The Jayhawks are 20-1 and 6-0 in the Big 12. KU has now won 20 games in each of the last 21 seasons, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
Colorado (11-10, 2-5 Big 12) returns four starters off last season's
9-22 team. The Buffaloes have lost four of their last five games, but
three of those losses were by six points or less (a combined 11
CU is coming off a 64-63 loss at Iowa State on Saturday. The Buffaloes,
who lost second-leading scorer Alec Burks two minutes into the game
with a knee injury, had a blown opportunity to win in the final seconds
when junior forward Marcus Relphorde missed a layup.
Still, CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik was thrilled with his team's effort.
"I couldn't be any prouder of my team," Bzdelik said. "It's unfortunate
we weren't able to drop another bucket in there, and we had our
opportunities. They're trying really hard; they really are."
Colorado, which is 10-1 at home this season, averages 75.8 points per
game while allowing 71.9. CU is shooting 47.8 percent from the field,
38.1 percent from three-point range, and a Big 12-leading 76.7 percent
from the free-throw line. The Buffaloes are holding foes to 45 percent
field goal shooting and just 33.2 percent from beyond the arc. However,
they're being outrebounded 35.2 to 28.5 boards per game.
Junior guard Cory Higgins leads the Colorado attack with 18.3 points
per game (No. 5 in Big 12) and a team-high 39 steals. He's also dished
out 51 assists and made 20 three-pointers, one of four CU players with
20 or more threes.
Burks, a 6-6 freshman guard, is second in scoring at 16.3 points per
game, while leading the team with 4.7 rebounds per game. He's followed
in scoring by Relphorde (10.4 ppg, 22 threes), senior guard Dwight Thorne II (8.9 ppg, team-high 27 threes), sophomore forward Austin Dufault (6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), sophomore guard Nate Tomlinson (5.7 ppg, 20
threes and team-high 4.3 assists per game), junior forward Casey Crawford (4.2 ppg) and junior guard Levi Knutson (2.8 ppg).
SELF & KU ON THE
KU coach Bill Self sees an improved CU team from past years.
"Colorado has the best team that they've had in recent memory," Self
said. "They've already shown that they can beat a team at home more
easily than what we have with Baylor. (CU beat Baylor, 78-71, on Jan.
12, while KU overcame the pesky Bears, 81-75, on Jan. 20.) ... You can
lose to anyone at any time. They're a good team and we need to play
Burks told cubuffs.com on Monday that he feels "fine now" after mildly
spraining his left knee against Iowa State Saturday.
"I definitely think I'm going to play Wednesday, unless something
happens between (now and then)," Burks said.
But Bzdelik is cautious.
"He's day-to-day ... a game-day decision," Bzdelik said Monday.
Self has been impressed with Burks, who fell under the recruiting radar
after a standout career at Grandview (Mo.) High School. Prior to his
injury on Saturday, Burks was the only freshman in the country to score
in double figures every game.
"That's a great get by Colorado and a recruiting blunder by a lot of
folks," Self said. "He's good. I watched him play in the state finals
last year and I thought he was really good then. He's a player. He fits
Jeff's system well. It would be a loss for their team if he's not able
to play because he's hard to guard."
The undersized Buffaloes will keep KU on its toes with its Princeton
style motion offense. Self said nonconference games against Cornell and
especially Michigan helped the Jayhawks prepare for CU's offensive
"They don't really have a true center or even a true forward," KU
junior center Cole Aldrich said. "They love to shoot the ball, they
love to drive the ball and get to the paint. It is going to be tough
for us. It is obviously tough to guard that offense, but I think our
[scout] team really does a heck of a job preparing us."
MOVING ON UP
KU's battle vs. Colorado is the ‘Hawks first game in February, a
critical month in the season with the Jayhawks two games up in the Big
"We're just now starting," Self said. "Hopefully we've played guys the
right amount of minutes in the season thus far where all the guys' legs
will be fresh moving forward into February. I know you can't win a golf
tournament in the third round so to speak, but this is the third round.
This is where all good teams will make their move."
"PLAYING TO WIN"
Self marvels at senior guard Sherron Collins' basketball savvy and I.Q.
While Collins' overall numbers and shot attempts are down this season,
Self said "he's playing to win. I think he's showing NBA teams
hopefully that he can run a team and not necessarily put up (big)
numbers. ... The kid's legacy to me is, there's been a lot of good
players here (KU) and he's going to win more games than any of them.
"That to me is pretty strong. I think that will go a long ways in
helping (lay) a foundation for his life as long as he goes ahead and
completes his 12 hours this semester and does what he's supposed to do
JAYHAWKS IN BOULDER
KU fans have always come out on droves to support the Jayhawks in
"We got booed and heard, ‘Rock Chalk, Jayhawk,' in your own building,"
Thorne said about the Kansas game during his freshman season.
"It's a feeling that when it happens, you're upset, you're pissed off.
... You still get upset about it, but it's unique about the game of
Thorne hopes this game will be more fan friendly for the Buffs. CU has
averaged 8,306 fans for the last three games.
"I think this game might be a little different; we might have a bigger
crowd for us. ... I could be wrong," he said. "But if it is half and
half, you're going to get booed coming from that tunnel. It'll be
something you'll remember for the rest of your life — having that
happen in your home gym."
Bzdelik, for one, said "it doesn't bother me" about KU's huge fan
support in the Events Center. "Sometimes life isn't fair."
Kansas has dominated the series with CU, 117-39, in games dating back
to 1931. KU has won 13 straight and 40 of the last 41 meetings.
Colorado's last win came on Jan. 22, 2003 in Boulder, a 60-59 victory.
KU is 37-26 in Boulder, including 22-7 in the Coors Events Conference
Center. The Jayhawks have won the last six meetings there.
"We've had success when we've gone out there, but we really haven't
played well," Self said.
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