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CU Gears Up For Big 12 With Pepperdine

Jan 3, 2008

THE GAME: The University of Colorado concludes the nonconference portion of its schedule by hosting Pepperdine University on Friday, Jan. 4, at 5:30 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The game is the first part of a CU women's-men's doubleheader as the CU men host SMU at 8 p.m.

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 season, will have the play-by-play and he is joined by Carol Callan of USA Basketball with the color commentary. Live internet audio can be accessed through Yahoo! Sports. Live video streaming of Friday's battle will be available to BuffsTV subscribers at CUBuffs.com.

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is off to its best start since 2003-04 at 10-2 and is riding a nine-game winning streak. The nine straight wins are the most for the Buffaloes since a similar nine-game run in 2003-04, which was also the Buffs' last appearance in the NCAA Tournament. CU moved up two spots to No. 23 in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll released Dec. 31, and contiues to receive votes in the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA poll.

Senior All-America candidate Jackie McFarland leads the Buffaloes at 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting .585 from the field and .792 from the free-throw line. McFarland, who is one of only three players in CU history with 1,500 points and 800 rebounds, ranks second on the team in assists with 36 and is third in blocked shots with 13. The All-Big 12 forward once again can be found among the Top 10 in most league statistical categories ranking second in field-goal percentage and minutes, third in scoring, sixth in rebounding and seventh in free-throw percentage.

Freshman Brittany Spears continues to have a solid start to her collegiate career has she ranks second on the team in scoring (13.3 ppg) and is third in rebounding (6.8 rpg). Her scoring and 1.3 blocks per game top all freshmen in the Big 12 Conference this season while she is second in steals (2.3 spg) and third in rebounding and assists (2.2 apg).

Senior guard Susie Powers has taken control of the Colorado offense from the point guard position and has been solid in all phases of the game. She is averaging 4.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-best 4.6 assists per game. Powers, who had a career-high nine assists in the win over Wyoming, leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.7 and ranked third in the NCAA through games of Dec. 16. She has 55 assists against only 15 turnovers this season. Powers, who had a career-high nine rebounds and matched a personal best with 12 points against Jacksonville State, has 50 assists in the last nine games (5.6 apg).

Sophomore Aija Putnina has started the last nine games and has responded with a pair of double-doubles and five double-digit rebounding games. She is averaging 8.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as a starter. Putnina is eighth in rebounding and blocked shots and ninth free-throw percentage (.767) on the Big 12 charts. She had a career night against Jacksonville State scoring 20 points on 8-of-9 from the field including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Only Jenny Roulier who hit 5-of-5 from downtown against Missouri on Feb. 13, 2002, had more 3-pointers in a game without a miss. Putnina had just four 3-point field goals in 37 career games prior to the JSU contest.

Junior Hannah Skildum, who has started the last seven games, has provided a strong defensive presence to Colorado's back court. She is averaging 4.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and just under one steal per game during CU's nine-game win streak.

Colorado is 8-0 with its current starting line up of Powers-Skildum-Spears-McFarland-Putnina.

It's not just the starters, as the bench has been big too. Sophomore Bianca Smith is emerging into a formidable "Sixth-Woman" candidate averaging 10 points off the bench for the Buffs. During CU's nine-game wining streak she has been the team's third-leading scorer at 11.6 points per game while hitting 43 percent from 3-point range (26-of-60). Smith was named Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 10 after averaging 19.0 points and hitting 57 percent from the field in games against No. 22 (AP)/21 (WBCA) Wyoming and No. 20/17 Vanderbilt. Whitney Houston and Britney Blythe have also seen extended minutes in the Colorado backcourt.

Juniors Caley Dow and Kara Richards have been CU's first front court players off the bench. Dow has played double-digit minutes in six of the last eight games recording two points, two rebounds and one steal against Jacksonville State. Richards is shooting 64 percent from the floor overall and during the nine-game winning streak, she has made 14-of-18 shots (.778).

Colorado is averaging 70.3 points per game, while the Buffs defense is holding opponents to 53.6 per contest. The Buffaloes have been tough on the boards early on, enjoying a +8.8 rebound margin, thanks to the Buffs' ability to keep teams off the boards. CU opponents have averaged just 32.3 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. CU has outrebounded its opponents in all 12 games this season and has outrebounded the opposition in 16 straight games dating back to last season. The Buffs have not been outrebounded in 18 games (Colorado and Baylor had 35 rebounds each in their game on Feb. 21, 2007).

The Buffaloes currently rank fourth in the nation and top the Big 12 Conference in 3-point field goals (8.8 3's mpg) and are first in the league in free-throw percentage (.745), third in scoring defense (53.6 ppg), fourth 3-point field-goal percentage (.344) and blocked shots (5.4 bpg) and fifth in field-goal percentage defense (.346), rebounding defense (32.3) and rebounding margin (+8.8). CU has been sharing the ball well of late averaging 16.4 assists per game and has netted 20 or more assists in four games in 2007-08.

ABOUT THE WAVES: Pepperdine is 5-7 overall and will be playing its sixth-straight road game and third in a row against a ranked opponent. The Waves have dropped their last five games, all on the road, including losses to No. 22 (AP)/20 (WBCA) George Washington (82-68) on Dec. 30 and No. 6/6 Rutgers (55-45) on Jan. 2. Pepperdine is 1-6 on the road this season with its lone win coming at Washington, 74-56, on Dec. 4. The Waves average 66.2 points per game and pull down 40.7 rebounds per contest. Pepperdine is shooting 41 percent from the field and has a solid 75 percent accuracy from the free-throw stripe.

The Waves are led by senior All-West Coast Conference guard Daphanie Kennedy who averages 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Sophomore forward Miranda Ayim is the WCC's top field goal shooter at 56 percent and she leads the Waves in rebounding at 7.8 per game and is second in scoring at 12.8 per contest. Senior forward Teiosha George is averaging 9.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

FAMILIAR FACES: One of Colorado's legendary players will be on the opposite sideline at the Coors Events Center on Friday. CU Athletic Hall of Famer and former WBCA All-American Shelley Sheetz is in her third season as an assistant coach at Pepperdine. Sheetz is third on CU's all-time scoring list with 1,775 points and led the Buffaloes to four NCAA Tournaments and two Elite Eight apperances from 1991-95.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be just the second meeting between Colorado and Pepperdine. The Buffaloes won the only prior meeting, a 71-67 decision at Pepperdine on Jan. 6, 1981. Colorado is 14-3 against current West Coast Conference teams including a 66-48 win over San Francisco in the 2007-08 season opener. Kathy McConnell-Miller is 0-2 against Pepperdine as a head coach, both games coming while she was at Tulsa.

HEY, WE PLAYED THEM TOO: Colorado and Pepperdine have one common opponent to date as both teams played at USC. The Trojans had the upper hand on both teams, defeating the Buffaloes 70-57 on Nov. 18 and the Waves 55-52 on Dec. 15. Pepperdine has also seen a future CU opponent as the Waves dropped a 70-59 decision at Iowa State on Nov. 11.

NUMBERS ON NINE STRAIGHT: Colorado's current win streak marks the 12th time in team history the Buffaloes have won nine or more games in a row. A win over Pepperdine would give the Buffaloes their seventh double-digit win streak in team history and their longest since the 1994-95 team established a CU All-Sports record 25 straight wins. Here are the Buffs' all-time best win streaks:

Wins Season Record Noteable

1. 25 1994-95 30-3 NCAA Elite Eight, 14-0 in Big Eight

2. 20 1988-89 27-4 NCAA 1st Round, 14-0 in Big Eight

3. 15 1992-93 27-4 NCAA Elite Eight, 15-0 season start

4. 14 1991-92 22-9 NCAA 1st Rd, Big Eight Tourney Champs

5. 12 1981-82 28-8 AIAW National 1st Round

12 1980-81 28-5 First of two 9-plus winning streaks in ?81

7. 9 2007-08 ?? First 9-plus streak since 2003-04

9 2003-04 22-8 NCAA 1st Round

9 1993-94 27-5 NCAA Sweet 16

9 1992-93 27-4 NCAA Elite Eight, Big Eight Champs

9 1980-81 28-5 First AIAW National Appearance

9 1978-79 22-9 3rd place in AIAW Regional

PERFECT DECEMBER: Colorado registered a perfect 7-0 record for the month of December for the first time since 2003-04, and for just the sixth time in team history. The Buffaloes matched the 1980-81 and 1981-82 teams which were both 7-0 in December. The 1992-93 team had a program best December mark of 9-0, while the 2002-03 squad was 6-0 and 5-0 in 2003-04. CU is 118-54 (.686) all-time in the month of December.

DEFENSE WINS: Colorado has enjoyed some impressive defensive numbers this season.

The Buffaloes have held five opponents under 50 points in 2007; 29-vs. Texas Southern, 38-vs. Southern Utah 43-vs. Darmouth, 47-at Colorado State and 48-at San Francisco. CU had held their opponent under 50 points just three times total in the previous three seasons.

CU yielded less than 50 points in three-straight games -- Texas Southern, Dartmouth and Southern Utah -- the first such streak since 2003-04. The Buffs' five sub-50 point defensive performances are the most in one season since the 2002-03 squad registered nine.

Against Dartmouth, Colorado had 13 blocked shots, the second highest single-game total in team history, trailing only the school record 16 set against Sam Houston in a 99-60 win on Dec. 14, 2000.

Colorado had a historic performance from a defensive perspective against Texas Southern. The Buffaloes held the Lady Tigers to just 29 points, which ties for the fourth-lowest total in team history (equals a 79-29 win over Iowa State on Feb. 19, 1993). It was just the fifth time in CU history the Buffs have held an opponent under 30 points (the ISU game in 1993 being the last). CU allowed just 13 second-half points, tying for the second-lowest second-half total in team history (also done in the ISU game and against Utah State on Jan. 28, 1981). The Buffaloes forced Texas Southern into 32 turnovers, the most since forcing 35 against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 24, 2002.

SMITH NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore guard Bianca Smith was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 10. Smith captured 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 early December 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.

RANKING OF OUR OWN: Colorado moved up two spots to No. 23 in the latest AP Top 25 poll on Dec. 31. The Buffaloes debuted in the 2007 AP poll at No. 25 on Dec. 24 for their first national ranking since finishing No. 17 (AP)/No. 24 (WBCA) in the final 2003-04 polls. Colorado has a rich tradition in the AP poll. This ranking marks CU's 156th appearance in the AP poll since 1980. The Buffs were ranked in 75 straight polls from Mar. 15, 1992 to Dec. 9, 1996 and 30 straight from Jan. 22, 2001 to Mar. 22, 2002. The Buffaloes received votes in the WBCA Coaches' Poll, for the fourth-straight week.

With Colorado being ranked by the AP Poll, Buffs head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller becomes the 22nd person in NCAA Division I women's history to play for and coach an AP ranked team. McConnell-Miller was a four-year letterwinner at Virgina (1986-90) where she played in four NCAA Tournaments with the Cavaliers including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances and the 1988 Elite Eight.

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 is on pace to smash its team records for 3-point field goals made and attempted in one season. The Buffaloes are 105-of-305 (.344) from downtown, the highest 12-game marks in team history. With a guarantee of 18 games remaining on the schedule, CU's current pace of 8.8 3-pointers made per game would give the Buffs 262 for the season, passing the school record of 196 in 2001-02. CU's current pace of 25.4 attempts per game would net 762 in 18 more contests, well over the school record of 501 also set in 2001-02. The Buffaloes need just 26 3-pointers to enter the single-season Top 10.

Colorado leads the Big 12 Conference and ranks fourth in the nation at 8.8 3-point field goals per game. The Buffaloes have a school single-season record six games with 10 or more 3-point field goals. The previous season high was five in the 34-game 2001-02 season. CU had a season-high 14 against Colorado State, its second best single-game total (CU had 16 against Buffalo on Jan. 3, 2004). That came during a string of netting 10 or more 3-pointers in four straight games for the first time. The Buffs 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. Ten different players on the CU roster have at least two 3-point field goals and nine have attempted at least 10. Sophomore Bianca Smith leads the team with 28 including 24 in the last eight games. Freshman Brittany Spears is right behind Smith with 22 and senior Susie Powers has 15.

NUMBERS FOR McFARLAND: Jackie McFarland has had four double-doubles this season raking third in the Big 12 Conference. She ranks second in CU history in career double-doubles with 41 and her 42 career double-digit rebounding games are third on the CU career charts.

McFarland became the ninth player in team history to reach 1,500 points during the win over Southern Utah and now ranks eighth on the all-time scoring list at 1,526. She is 49 points from passing Tracy Tripp (1985-89) for seventh place and 74 away from entering the top five.

McFarland is the fourth player in Colorado history with 800 career rebounds, and now stands at 867. She needs 29 rebounds to pass Sandy Bean (1978-82) for third pace on CU's all-time list.

McFarland is third on CU's all-time for free throws made with 444. She is 59 away from catching Bridget Turner (1985-99) for the all-time mark of 494. She ranks 11th in field goals made (531) and 12th in minutes played (3,108).

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.

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.

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).

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 314-93 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.771). 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 is televising six CU home games which bean 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 was televised by The Mtn. Network.

UP NEXT: Colorado will open Big 12 Conference play by traveling to face the University of Missouri on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 5:30 p.m. MST in Columbia, Mo.