Buffs, Ducks Meet On Hardwood Friday
THE GAME: The University of Colorado (5-6) will host the University of Oregon (8-3) on Friday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. in the Coors Events Conference Center.
BROADCAST: Colorado's game against Oregon will be broadcast live on KKZN AM 760, Boulder's Progressive Talk station. Tim Smile will handle play by play duties and is joined by USA Basketball's Carol Callan with the color commentary. Internet audio streaming of the game will be available through Yahoo! Sports. Video streaming of the contest will be available through CUBuffs.com and The Stampede Online subscription service.
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 5-6 overall after a 64-50 win over South Dakota State on Dec. 28. Four of CU's five wins have come at the Coors Events Conference Center, where the Buffs are 4-2 overall.
When Colorado is winning, it is winning big. CU is averaging 82.2 points per game in its five wins and outscoring the opponent by 27 points an outing. The Buffs are shooting 46.4 percent from the field (141x304) and holding the opponent to just 31.1 percent (101x325). In contrast, CU is averaging just 68.7 points per game in its six losses, shooting just 39.1 percent (135x345) while opponents are shooting 44.6 percent (161x361) from the field.
Four of CU's six losses have been tight ones, two of which went to overtime. Colorado's fell to Northern Iowa 74-65 in overtime at the CECC and in overtime to Northern Arizona, 84-83 at the San Juan Shootout. In the Buffs' two road losses, CU had a chance to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds in both games.
Sophomore post Jackie McFarland, the 11th best scorer in the nation (through games of Dec. 19), is just a couple rebounds shy of averaging double-double over the first 11 contests. She ranks fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 20.5 points per game and is fourth in rebounds at 9.9 per contest. Junior Jasmina Ilic is seventh in the Big 12 at 17.5 points per game, and has scored at least 20 points in four of the last eight contests. McFarland and Ilic have scored 20 or more points in the same game four times this season and the Buffs are 3-1 in those outings (lone loss at Creighton). After a relatively slow start, junior forward Anna Nedovic is heating up. She is averaging 9.3 points over the last six games while hitting 54 percent from the field (27x50). Colorado's back-court trio of senior Whitney Law and sophomores Lauren Lubin and Yari Escalera have put up some impressive numbers. Law, who missed the South Dakota State game with a sprained ankle, recorded a career-high 22 points against Colorado State and ranks seventh among Big 12 players in assists, and 23rd in the nation, with 5.33 per game. Escalera, the third-best foul shooter in the Big 12 at 89.2 percent, had a career-high seven assists and scored 14 second-half points against South Dakota State. Lubin, who has started the last eight games, has responded with two double-doubles and is averaging 8.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists over her eight starts. Escalera (.892), Lubin (.833), Ilic (.804) and McFarland (.778) each rank in among the top 15 free-throw shooters in the Big 12.
Colorado's freshman duo of forward Caley Dow and guard Hannah Skildum are getting some key minutes off the bench for the Buffaloes. Dow is averaging just over 14 minutes a game and has at least four rebounds in eight of 11 contests. Skildum has scored in six of the last seven games and has recorded at least one rebound in all 11 outings and one assist in 10 of 11 games.
LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore Jackie McFarland nearly had a triple double and the Colorado defense held South Dakota State to just 23 percent from the field as the Buffaloes claimed a 64-50 win over the Jackrabbits Wednesday evening at the Coors Events Conference Center.
Colorado improves to 5-6 overall while SDSU drops to 7-5.
McFarland had 15 points, a game-high 10 rebounds, and tied a school-record with eight blocked shots for her sixth double-double in 11 games and ending just short of what would have been the first triple double in CU women's basketball history. McFarland's eight blocks ties former Buff Britt Hartshorn who also had eight against Nebraska on Jan. 23, 1999.
South Dakota State made just 16-of-69 from the field. The Jackrabbits had 23 more shot attempts than Colorado, but the Buffaloes actually had one more field goal on the night hitting 17-of-46 for 37 percent.
Sophomore point guard Yari Escalera scored all 14 of her points in the second half, helping the Buffaloes outscore the Jacks 34-20 in the final 15 minutes of the period. Escalera, who also recorded a career-high seven assists, got the start at point guard in place of Whitney Law who missed the game with a left ankle sprain. Junior Jasmina Ilic also had a big showing in the second half scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points and five of her six rebounds in the final 20 minutes.
With SDSU up 29-28 early in the second half, Ilic scored five straight points to cap off an 11-1 run with 10:25 remaining that gave CU its largest lead up to that point at 39-30. SDSU answered with eight straight to cut the lead to 39-38 on a Courtney Grimsrud jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers by Natalie Carda and Heather Sieler.
Instead of crumbling, Colorado responded. Escalera and Ilic each hit 3-pointers during an 11-2 run that put CU back up by 50-40 with 5:45 remaining. SDSU never got closer than eight the rest of the game.
It was another stellar night at the foul line for the Buffaloes. Colorado, which came into the contest with the second-best free-throw percentage in the Big 12 Conference at 73.9 percent, hit 23-of-27 from the line (85.2 percent), including 16-of-17 (94.1 percent) in the second half.
Colorado and South Dakota State played even in a tightly contested first half that featured cold shooting on both sides and a considerable rebounding edge for the Jacks. SDSU held a 27-20 edge in the first half, including 12 on the offensive accounting for an 11-0 Jacks advantage in second chance points.
After hitting three off their first six shots to build an early 8-3 lead, SDSU made just five of its next 31 (16 percent) to finish at 21.6 percent for the half. Colorado was just slightly better at 26.1 percent (6-of-23), and was 2-of-8 from the 3-point line. McFarland had six points, 10 of CU's 20 rebounds, and four blocks in the first half to lead the Buffaloes.
FIRST 11 GAMES: Comparing statistics from Colorado's first 11 games last year, and the first 11 games this year, the most significant improvements for the Buffaloes are in scoring, rebounding and free-throw shooting. CU is averaging 7.9 more points per game than at the same time last year. The Buffs have scored 80 or more points five times in 11 games this season as opposed to once in the entire 2004-05 campaign. Many of those points are coming off free throws. Colorado is getting to the line six more times per game and making good on 5.8 of those attempts reflecting a solid .750 free-throw percentage -- currently tops in the Big 12 -- as opposed to .670 last season. Colorado is also averaging just over five more rebounds than this time last year and enjoying an even greater rebounding margin. CU's averaging eight more rebounds per game than its opponent this year while it was only +1.5 through 11 games in 2004-05.
CU has fallen off on its 3-point field-goal shooting, down 3.1 percent from last year. The Buffs are actually giving up fewer turnovers from last year (+1.5) and have a better assist/turnover ratio (+0.19) but their turnover margin is nearly twice as high as this time last year.
Colorado Statistics Through 11 Games
Record 7-4 5-6
Points 66.9 74.8
Points Allowed 65.4 66.8
Scoring Margin +1.5 +8.0
Field Goals 24.1 25.1
Field Goal Att. 56.1 59.0
Field Goal Pct. .429 .425
3-pt Field Goals 5.1 5.0
3-pt Field Goal Att. 14.7 15.8
3-pt Field Goal Pct. .346 .315
Free Throws 13.6 19.6
Free Throw Att. 20.4 26.2
Free Throw Pct. .670 .750
Offensive Rebounds 11.9 15.4
Defensive Rebounds 26.6 27.9
Total Rebounds 38.5 43.3
Rebounding Margin +1.5 +6.8
Fouls 15.5 18.5
Assists 12.9 15.2
Turnovers 18.8 17.3
Assist/TO Ratio 0.69 0.88
Turnover Margin -1.5 -2.7
Blocks 3.4 3.5
Steals 7.8 7.9
McFARLAND 20-10: Jackie McFarland is the first player in CU women's basketball history to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds over the first seven games of a season, in fact, she was the first to do it in the first four games of a season. McFarland just dipped below the double-double numbers while at the San Juan Shootout, currently residing at 20.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
McFarland's 20.5 points per game average over the first 11 games is second all-time in school history trailing only Tera Bjorklund who averaged 20.8 points over the first 11 games of the 2003-04 season.
POINTS AVERAGE FIRST 11 GAMES
LUBIN BACK-TO-BACK DOUBLES: With her performances against Utah State and Colorado State sophomore guard Lauren Lubin became just the fifth true guard in team history to record two or more points-rebounds double-doubles in a career and only the second to do it back-to-back games. Former Big Eight Conference MVP Bridget Turner did it in back-to-back games during the 1988-89 season and leads all CU guards with nine total points-rebounds double-doubles. Lubin joins three other guards with two points-rebounds double-doubles and included in that list is teammate Whitney Law who had a pair last season. Lubin had 13 points and 13 rebounds against Utah State and had 15 points and 10 rebounds at CSU.
CLIMBING THE ?3' LADDER: Junior Jasmina Ilic hit three 3-point field goals against South Dakota State and currently resides in 11th place on CU's all-time list with 63, needing just two more to reach the 10th spot occupied by former teammate Veronica Johns-Richardson who had 65 from 2001-05.
Junior Anna Nedovic is tied with Shelley Garcia (1994-99) for 14th on the all-time list with 44.
ABOUT THE DUCKS: Oregon is 8-3 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-10 Conference. The Ducks, who are playing their sixth-straight game away from home, will be looking to stop a two-game skid as they dropped their league openers at UCLA, 82-63, on Dec. 20 and at USC, 72-48, on Dec. 22. Oregon averages 69.1 points per game and has held its opponents to just 53.8 points per game. Prior to their losses to USC and UCLA, the Ducks ranked second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (.294) and fourth in scoring defense (48.7 ppg). Sophomore center Gabrielle Richards is Oregon's only player averaging double digits in points at 12 per game. She is also the Ducks' leading rebounder at 6.3 per contest and is hitting 52.4 percent from the field (54x103). Senior guard Chelsea Wagner averages 8.7 points per game and has a solid 45.8 percentage from 3-point range (22x48). Junior Carolyn Ganes averages 9.5 points off the bench for the Ducks and recently scored 26 points in an 89-69 Oregon win over Idaho State.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 10th meeting between Colorado and Oregon with the Ducks holding a 6-3 series lead. Oregon has won the last two, including a 75-63 win at the Coors Events Center on Nov. 24, 1998. CU's last win over the Ducks also came at the CECC, a 92-71 decision in the second round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament.
Kathy McConnell-Miller has never faced Oregon as a head coach.
AGAINST THE PAC-10: Colorado has had recent success against the Pac-10, riding a current nine-game winning streak, including a 76-74 overtime win at Washington last season. The Buffs, who have also won 11-of-13, last fell to a Pac-10 team at Stanford, 83-48, on Jan. 2, 2000. Overall, CU is 35-20 (.636) against the Pac-10.
CHRISTMAS WINNERS: Colorado is 24-8 since the 1975-76 season in its first game back from the Christmas holiday. The Buffaloes have won eight in a row in their first game back from the Christmas break including wins over LSU in 2001, Illinois in 1999 and Stanford in 1998.
MILESTONES GALORE IN SEASON OPENER: Several milestones were reached in Colorado's season-opening 100-71 win over Cal State-Fullerton.
Junior Jasmina Ilic and sophomore Jackie McFarland each had 34 points, both career highs, marking the first time in team history two players hit the 30-point mark in the same game. McFarland recorded her sixth career double-double, grabbing a personal-high 15 rebounds. Ilic also had a personal-best 12 field goals and tied a career mark with 10 rebounds.
Senior Whitney Law dished out a school record 15 assists, breaking the previous record of 14, which was done twice, last by La Shena Graham vs. Missouri in 1998. She also had nine assists in the first half, breaking a 26-year old school record. Sandy Bean recorded eight assists in a half against Northern Colorado on Feb. 1, 1979.
Colorado recorded its first 100 point game since a 114-52 win over St. Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 28, 1994. CU's 58 first-half points tied for the sixth-most in team history, a feat also achieved against TCU on Dec. 7, 1993 and vs. St. Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 28, 1994.
CLASSIC IN REVIEW: Colorado placed third in the 19th Annual Coors Classic Tournament Nov. 25-26 at the Coors Events Conference Center. The Buffaloes fell to Northern Iowa, 74-65, in overtime marking the first time in Coors Classic history that CU lost a first round match up. Colorado rebounded to take the consolation game from Utah State, 73-56. Northern Iowa would go on to take the tournament title by defeating Illinois 71-47.
Jackie McFarland was named to the All-Tournament team as she averaged 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Northern Iowa senior center Cassie Hager, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks against CU, was the tournament MVP.
WALLACE ACTIVATED: Junior forward Courtney Wallace has waited more than a year to put on the Buffaloes uniform and now laces them up with the rest of the squad. Wallace, a walk-on transfer from CU-Colorado Springs, was officially added to the active roster on Nov. 17. Wallace practiced with the Buffs for most of last season as she sat out her NCAA mandated redshirted year after transferring from the Springs campus. She has been practicing and conditioning with the Buffaloes since the start of the school year. Wallace played two years for the Mountain Lions and was a two-year letterwinner for Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, graduating in 2004.
ON THE MEND: Sophomore center Kara Richards, who has missed the first 11 games of the regular season due to a Jones fracture in her left foot suffered in practice on Nov. 15, had her cast removed on Dec. 28 and began limited practice drills on Dec. 29. She is still expected to miss an additional two weeks which is consistent with the original timeline of eight weeks to return from the injury. Richards started in 26 of 28 games for the Buffaloes as a true freshman last winter, averaging nine points, 5.3 rebounds and one block per game. She earned a spot on the Waco Tribune-Herald's All-Big 12 Conference Freshman team in 2004-05 and was named the Buffs' Rookie of the Year. A native of Graham, Texas, Richards averaged 12 points and 6.5 rebounds in CU's two exhibition games earlier this month.
McCONNELL-MILLER 100 IN DEBUT: Kathy McConnell-Miller led Colorado to the century mark in her first game as head coach, by far the best total of any current Big 12 Conference coach in their debut at their school. Bill Fennelly of Iowa State was the closest as he led the Cyclones to an 82-55 win over Idaho State in his debut in 1995. Ironically, McConnell-Miller is not the first Colorado women's coach to debut with a 100-point performance. Sox Walseth led the Buffs to a 107-73 win over Colorado Women's College in his first game as women's head coach on Nov. 18, 1980.
BUFFS IN OPENERS: With its win over Cal State-Fullerton, Colorado moved to 27-5 (.844) all-time in season openers and a whopping 31-1 (.969) all-time in home openers. CU has won six straight season debuts and 19 of its last 20 with the lone loss in that span coming at Denver on Nov. 19, 1999.
TIS THE SEASON FOR WINS: Colorado has been dominant in December over the years compiling a 141-58 (.709) overall record. The Buffaloes are a whopping 68-14 (.829) at home in the 12th month.
ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 10-4 on Dec. 30 in its history and 3-2 at home. CU's most recent excursion on Dec. 30 was a 74-60 win over Oakland (Mich.) University in San Diego.
BUFFS IN PRESEASON: Colorado has had five straight seasons with a record of .500 or better during the non conference schedule. The Buffs have only finished below .500 twice during the nonconference schedule in the Big 8/Big 12 era going 5-6 in 1999-2000 and 4-9 in 1984-85. A five-game winning streak last December allowed CU to keep the string alive at with a 7-6 preseason mark. The Buffaloes will need a similar rally to reach the .500 mark as CU stands at 5-6 with just two nonconference games remaining, both of which are at home.
BUFFS PICKED 12TH: Colorado was picked to finish 12th in the annual Big 12 Conference Coaches Preseason Poll. CU received 14 points meaning no less than eight Big 12 coaches picked the Buffaloes to finish in the 12th spot (coaches do not vote for their own teams). It is the first time the Buffaloes have been picked lower than eighth since the coaches poll began in 1997. Defending NCAA champion Baylor was picked to win its second consecutive Big 12 title, landing six first place votes and 113 total points to edge out second place Texas with two first place nods and 110 points. Texas Tech was a close third with the four remaining first place votes and 108 points. Oklahoma was fourth (91), followed by Nebraska (70), Kansas (66), Texas A&M (59), Kansas State (56), Iowa State (45), Missouri (37), Oklahoma State (23) and Colorado.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule, featuring at least 14 games against 2005 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. Defending national champion Baylor, who the Buffs will face in Waco on Feb. 22, is the highest ranked team on the schedule, checking in at No. 4 in the most recent Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN coaches polls. Oklahoma is No. 20 in the coaches' poll and No. 20 in the AP poll. Texas is No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the coaches' poll. South Florida is receiving votes in both polls while Kansas is receiving votes in the AP poll.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 293-80 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.785). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 18 of the previous 27 years including five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94). Colorado had a rare sub-.500 season last winter at 5-9, marking just the second time the Buffs have been below .500 for a season in the 27-year history of the CECC.
BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features seven games that will be televised either regionally or nationally by Fox Sports Net. All but one of the FSN games is in Boulder, with the lone exception at Colorado State on Nov. 30. Buffs fans will see a familiar face on their TV sets during those games as longtime CU coach Ceal Barry is scheduled to provide the color commentary on a majority of the broadcasts.
UP NEXT: Colorado will open the 2006 Big 12 Conference season by hosting the University of Nebraska on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net-Rocky Mountain.