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Buffs To Host Texas Southern Friday

Dec 13, 2007

THE GAME: The University of Colorado begins a five-game homestand to close out the nonconference schedule by hosting Texas Southern University on Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center.

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BROADCAST: All Colorado women's basketball regular and post season games are broadcast live on KKZN 760 AM, Boulder's Progressive Talk station. Mike Rice, in his second year, will have the play-by-play of Friday's game. Live internet audio can be accessed through Yahoo! Sports. Live video streaming of Friday's battle will be available to BuffsTV subscribers at

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 6-2 overall and off to its best start since the 2003-04 season which was also the Buffs' last appearance in the NCAA Tournament. CU has won five straight for the first time since 2004-05 and will be looking to make it six in a row for the first time since 2003-04. With their recent success, the Buffaloes are beginning to gain some national recognition in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches polls. CU is in the "receiving votes" category in each poll claiming 58 in the AP poll and six in the WBCA poll. The 58 votes in the AP poll puts CU at the top of the receiving votes category, just one spot out of the Top 25.

The Buffaloes are 3-1 at both home and on the road and are coming off a week in which they defeated No. 21 (AP)/22 (WBCA) ranked Wyoming and No. 20/17 Vanderbilt marking the first time since the 2002 NCAA Tournament that CU knocked off ranked teams in back-to-back games.

Senior All-America candidate Jackie McFarland leads the Buffaloes in scoring at 18.1 points per game and field goal percentage at .600 while her 8.4 rebounds per contest rank second on the team. McFarland, who is one of only three players in CU history with 1,400 points and 800 rebounds, ranks second on the team in assists at 3.3 and is fourth in free-throw percentage at .740. The All-Big 12 forward ranks second on the league charts and is also sixth in rebounding and field-goal percentage (.600) and 14th in free-throw percentage and assists.

McFarland has three double-doubles in eight games. Her last, a 17-point, 10-rebound effort against Colorado State, gave her 40 in her career, second on CU's all-time list. She scored 20 or more points in four of eight games this season including a game-high 21 in the win over Wyoming.

Senior guard Susie Powers has stepped up her game over the past four contests. After being held scoreless for the first three games of the season, Powers has averaged 8.5 points, 6.2 assists and 5.6 rebounds over the last five.

Powers, who had a career-high nine assists in the win over Wyoming, leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.0 as she has 36 assists against only nine turnovers this season. Powers has 28 assists in the last four games (7.0 apg).

Freshman Brittany Spears continues to have a solid start to her collegiate career has she ranks second on the team in scoring (13.4 ppg) and is third in rebounding (7.3 rpg). Her scoring numbers and rebounding numbers are also tops among all freshmen in the Big 12 Conference so far this season while she is third in steals (2.1 spg) and assists (2.5 apg).

Sophomore Aija Putnina and junior Hannah Skildum have played their way into the starting lineup after coming off the bench to begin the season. Putnina has started the last five games and has responded with a pair of double-doubles and four-straight double-digit rebounding games. She is averaging 8.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as a starter. Putnina has vaulted into fourth place on the league rebounding chart with a team-best 8.6 per game.

Sophomore Bianca Smith is coming off a memorable week where her 19.0 points and 57 percent shooting average in games against Wyoming and Vanderbilt netted her Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honors on Dec. 10. She is third on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game and her production is even higher over the last four games where she's averaged 14.8 points and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range (14-of-31). Whitney Houston and Britney Blythe have also seen extended minutes in the Colorado backcourt. Houston's minutes were limited against CSU and Wyoming, but she had a season-high four assists and two rebounds against UNC. Blythe broke a two-game scoreless streak against CSU by hitting a 3-pointer to go along with a career-best three rebounds.

Juniors Caley Dow and Kara Richards have been CU's first front court players off the bench. Dow has played double-digit minutes in three of the last four games and had a seven-rebound performance against CSU the most she's had since she recorded seven against Cal State Fullerton last season. Richards is shooting 50 percent from the floor and had a season-best seven points against Northern Colorado.

Colorado is averaging 68.9 points per game, while the Buffs defense is holding opponents to 58.6 per contest. During its current five-game winning streak, CU has given up just 53.6 points per game. The Buffaloes have been tough on the boards early on, enjoying a +10.1 rebound margin, a number that ranks 17th nationally, thanks to the Buffs' ability to keep teams off the boards. CU opponents have averaged just 30.5 per game including a season-low 25 for Wyoming. The Buffaloes on the other hand have had some big number rebound games this season, including 58 against Colorado State, the most by a CU team since it grabbed 59 against Bowling Green on Nov. 23, 2001, and the most on the road since it had 59 at Oklahoma State on Jan. 28, 1983.

The Buffaloes currently rank second in the nation and top the Big 12 Conference in 3-point field goals (9.1 3's mpg) and also leads the league in free throw percentage at 74.5 percent. CU has been sharing the ball well of late averaging 16.1 assists per game and recently netted 20 or more assists in three straight contests for the first time since the 2002-03 season.

ABOUT THE LADY TIGERS: Texas Southern is 2-5 overall and will play its first game in 10 days. The Lady Tigers fell 57-47 at Lamar University in their last outing on Dec. 4. TSU is 0-4 on the road this season averaging just 48.8 points in those games. Overall the Lady Tigers are averaging 50 points per game and shooting 30 percent from the field.

Junior guard Camille Parks leads the Lady Tigers in scoring at 10.9 points per game and also tops the team in assists (2.7 apg). Sophomore Jamelah Lewis is second in scoring at 10.6 points per game and second in rebounding at 5.3 per contest.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the first ever meeting between Colorado and Texas Southern. The Buffaloes are 2-0 all-time against the Southwestern Athletic Conference and will play the league for the first time since an 88-61 win over Southern University in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Kathy McConnell-Miller has never faced Texas Southern as a head coach.

FAMILIAR FACES: Located in downtown Houston, Texas Southern has two players -- Brandi Justice and Jamelah Lewis -- that hail from Missouri City, Texas, which is the same hometown as CU sophomore Bianca Smith. Smith played against Justice and Lewis in AAU basketball before coming to Boulder.

SMITH NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore guard Bianca Smith was been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week by a media voting panel for games of Dec. 3-9, the league office announced Dec. 10. Smith captures her first career Big 12 weekly honor and the first for the Buffaloes since Jackie McFarland was named Player of the Week on Nov. 13, 2006.

Smith averaged 19 points, two assists and two rebounds off the bench while leading Colorado to wins over No. 22 (AP)/21 (WBCA) Wyoming and at No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. Colorado broke a 23-game losing streak against ranked teams with its 69-55 win over Wyoming on Dec. 5. The Buffaloes then made it wins in back-to-back games over ranked teams for the first time since the 2002 NCAA Tournament with a 62-51 triumph at Vanderbilt on Dec. 9.

Against Wyoming, Smith scored 16 points on 5-of-8 from the floor with three assists as Colorado broke a three-game losing streak against the Cowgirls. She was 4-of-7 from 3-point range and her final two from downtown were clutch as they provided the answer to a 14-3 Wyoming run that cut the CU lead to just one with 5:11 remaining.

Smith had an even bigger game against Vanderbilt. She had a career-high 22 points on 7-of-14 from the field with three rebounds, one steal and one assist as the Buffs handed the Commodores just their second loss in their last 23 home games. Smith scored 13 of CU's first 17 points to erase an early 8-0 Vanderbilt lead, and hit four straight free throws in the final seconds of the game to close it out.

RANK STREAK IS OVER: Colorado had its biggest week in several years in terms of success against ranked teams.

Colorado's 69-55 win over No. 21/22 Wyoming snapped a 23-game Buffs' losing streak to ranked teams. The Buffaloes last win over a ranked opponent had been a 69-59 decision at No. 24 Baylor on Jan. 7, 2004 where CU was ranked No. 14 at the time. The win was Colorado's first against a ranked team while being unranked since knocking off No. 12 North Carolina 86-67 in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

The Buffaloes kept the momentum going four days later with a 62-51 win at No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. The win gives CU's its first two-game win streak against ranked teams since knocking off No. 23 Washington and No. 24 Baylor in 2003-04. It's the first pair of wins over two ranked teams in back-to-back games since the 2002 NCAA Tournament when the Buffs defeated No. 22/24 LSU in the second round and No. 5 Stanford in the Sweet 16. It was Colorado's first win on the road over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 24 Baylor 69-59 in Waco, Texas, on Jan. 7. 2004. It was CU's first win over a ranked opponent as an unranked team since defeating No. 12 Texas in Austin, 60-56, on Feb. 26, 1997.

RANKINGS OF OUR OWN?: A five-game winning streak including back-to-back wins over ranked teams have earned the Buffaloes votes in the latest editions of the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Coaches Polls. Colorado received 58 votes in the AP poll which puts the Buffs just one spot out of the Top 25. CU received six votes in the coaches poll. The Buffaloes are receiving votes for the first time since the 2004-05 WBCA preseason poll. Colorado's last appearance in either Top 25 came in the final polls of the 2003-04 season. The Buffs finished No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 24 in the coaches voting.

REVERSING ROAD WOES: Colorado is 3-1 on the road this season and has won two straight for the first time since defeating Pacific and Washington on the same road trip in December 2004. The three wins are one better than the team win total on the road for the last two seasons combined (1-10 in 2006-07 and 1-9 in 2004-05). CU's 82-47 win over Colorado State was significant on several fronts. The 35-point margin was the Buffs' highest on the road since a 70-35 win over Kansas on Jan. 16, 2002 and it was also their largest win over Colorado State (regardless of venue) since a 112-48 win on Nov. 16, 1979. The 82 points were the most CU has scored on an opponents home court since the Buffs' last trip to Moby Arena, an 86-83 loss to the Rams on Nov. 30, 2005. Colorado broke Vanderbilt's 10-game home winning streak and handed the Commodores just their second loss in 23 home games, the other coming last season against eventual national champion Tennessee.

3-POINTERS FALLING: Colorado has made and attempted more 3-pointers through seven games than it has in any other season in team history, and by a wide margin. The Buffaloes are 73-of-204 through eight contests (.358). CU's 73 3-pointers are 26 more than the previous best seven-game total of 47 in 2003-04 and the 204 attempts are 73 more than the previous six-game high of 131 in 2005-06.

Colorado leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks second in the nation with 9.1 3-point field goals per game. Villanova leads the NCAA at 10.7 per game. The Buffaloes had a season-high 14 against Colorado State, the second best single-game total in team history (CU had 16 against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004). CU had a string of 10 or more 3-pointers in four straight games for the first time in team history. CU had 10 3-pointers against Wyoming and Northern Colorado and 13 against Rice. Against UNC, the Buffs set a school record for 3-point field goal attempts in one half with 21 in the first stanza and finished the game with 36 attempts, just one shy of the school record of 37 set against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004.

Individually, it hasn't been one player doing the damage. Sophomore Bianca Smith leads the team with 18 with 14 of them coming in the last four games. Freshman Brittany Spears is right behind Smith with 17 and senior Susie Powers has 13. Senior Jackie McFarland and junior Hannah Skildum each have six.

THE COACH: Kathy McConnell-Miller is in her third season as Colorado's head coach. She is 28-40 with the Buffaloes and has an overall eight-year head coaching record of 119-128.

McFARLAND NOMINATED FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Senior forward Jackie McFarland has been named one of 30 nationwide candidates for the 2008 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

The award ? presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year in eight sports ? focuses on the "Four C's" of classroom, character, community and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season to honor the attributes of college basketball seniors who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season and complete college education brings.

A native of Derby, Kan., McFarland is a two-time Academic All-American sporting a 3.89 GPA. She is working on a concurrent degree program which will allow her to earn her MBA while completing her undergraduate degree in accounting. McFarland won CU's Scholar-Athlete Award in the spring of 2007 for having the highest GPA in her class. McFarland is a three-year team captain and is actively involved in CU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. SAAC is the governing body for student-athletes at CU which assists in the development and implementation of programs that motivate student-athletes to strive for and be recognized for academic excellence and community involvement.

From the list of 30 nominees for each gender, a national media committee will select 10 finalists to be announced in January. Those 10 names will then be put to ballot for a nationwide vote during the NCAA Tournament in March. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches and media to determine the male and female recipients.

CAPTAINS NAMED: Seniors Jackie McFarland and Susie Powers and junior Caley Dow will serve as team captains for the 2007-08 season. McFarland is a captain for a third straight season, Powers is in her second year as captain and Dow is a captain for the first time. CU team captains are voted on by players prior to the first regular season contest each year.

PITERNIECE COULD SEE DEBUT: Junior forward Dina Piterniece, who has missed the first eight games of the season recovering from a broken toe suffered during practice on Oct. 19, returned to light practice drills last Monday after receiving treatment for chronic plantar fasciitis, which played a role in the original toe injury. She expected to make a significant contribution to the CU lineup this season after a two-year career at Odessa where her teams went 66-3, winning the 2007 junior college national championship and a second place finish in 2006.

McFARLAND PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12; BUFFS PICKED 11TH: Senior forward Jackie McFarland has been named to the 2007-08 Preseason All-Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball team by a vote of league coaches.

McFarland is CU's second preseason All-Big 12 honoree as former Buffaloes standout Erin Scholz was named to the 1996-97 squad. She joins Nebraska forward Kelsey Griffin, Oklahoma center Courtney Paris and Texas A&M guards A'Quonesia Franklin and Takia Starks on the five-member preseason team. All five players were first team All-Big 12 picks last winter.

A native of Derby, Kan., McFarland topped the Big 12 and ranked third in the nation in field-goal accuracy in 2006-07 at 61 percent. She was second in the Big 12 in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (10.8 rpg) and led the league in minutes at 36.4 per game.

Despite returning eight players from a team that finished tied for seventh last season, the Buffaloes were picked to finish 11th in the Big 12 in 2007-08 in annual preseason coaches poll.

Defending co-champion Texas A&M was picked to win the 2008 title with seven first place votes and 117 points overall, just edging out the league's other co-champion, Oklahoma who had the other five first place votes and 115 points. The Big South held down the top five spots in the poll as Baylor was third with 97 points followed by Texas (86) and Oklahoma State (66). Iowa State was the top North school (64) followed by Nebraska (56), Kansas State and Texas Tech (54 each), Kansas (43), Colorado (29) and Missouri (11).

MORE NUMBERS FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland has had double-doubles in three of the last six games to become the second player in CU history to reach 40 career double-doubles. Her 41 career double-digit rebounding games are third on the CU career charts.

McFarland is the fourth player in Colorado history with 800 career rebounds, and now stands at 837. She needs 59 rebounds to pass Sandy Bean (1978-82) for third pace on CU's all-time list. McFarland is the ninth player in team history to reach 1,400 career points and now has 1,465 in 94 career games (15.4 ppg). McFarland is the fifth player in school history to pass 400 free throws made (420). She needs one free throws to pass Mandy Nightingale (1998-02) for sole possession of fourth place and is 83 away from catching Bridget Turner (1985-99) for the all-time mark of 494. She ranks 13th in field goals made (513) and 15th in minutes played (2,998).

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule with no less than 16 games against 2007 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. The Buffaloes will travel to perennial NCAA women's powers Southern California and Vanderbilt during the non-conference season as well as region rival Colorado State. Colorado will host 2007 WNIT Champion Wyoming and will also see Rice, Clemson and Pepperdine at the Coors Events Center. Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas come to Boulder this year out of the Big 12 South along with the Buffs' usual Big 12 North opponents.

HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 310-93 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.769). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 19 of the previous 29 years including, 2007-08 when the Buffaloes went 11-5 at home with four of the five losses coming to ranked teams. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.

BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features 10 games that will be televised either regionally or nationally, nine of which will be carried by Fox Sports Net. Two games are part of the Big 12's national package with FSN: Sunday, Jan. 13 against Iowa State at home and Saturday, Jan. 26, at Texas Tech. FSN Rocky Mountain will televise six CU home games beginning with Wyoming on Dec. 5. FSN Midwest will televise CU's game at Kansas State on Jan. 19, which could potentially be picked up by FSN Rocky Mountain as well. CU's game at Colorado State on Dec. 1 will be televised by The Mtn. Network.

UP NEXT: Colorado will return home to host Dartmouth University on Friday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center.