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Buffs Host Idaho State Tuesday

Dec 29, 2008

THE GAME: The University of Colorado plays its final nonconference home game of 2008 as the Buffaloes host Idaho State University on Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center.

BROADCAST: Tuesday's game can be heard live on KVCU 1190 AM with Mike Rice delivering the play-by-play and Carol Callan of USA Basketball with the color commentary. Live video streaming of Tuesday's battle will be available to BuffsTV subscribers at Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports.

OPENING TIP: Colorado has won two straight and will be out for its first three-game winning streak of the season. The Buffaloes will also be looking to move to two games above .500 for the first time since opening the season with two wins.

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 5-4 overall moving above .500 for the first time since Nov. 28 after defeating Saint Louis University, 76-63, on Dec. 22. The Buffaloes return to the Coors Events Center where they have won 11 of their last 14 games overall and 16 of their last 19 against nonconference opponents.

Sophomore Brittany Spears leads Colorado and ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring at 20.1 points per game. She has five games of 20-plus points, including a 21 point performance in the win over Saint Louis on Dec. 22, where she had one of the better shooting nights of her young career hitting on 8-of-10 from the field including all three 3-point attempts. She has two double-doubles this season, most recently scoring a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 2. She has the highest individual scoring output in the Big 12 this season, notching 36 against UMass in the first round of the Coors Classic, a Classic record and tying for the third best total in team history (Jasmina Ilic scored 36 against Nebraska on Jan. 4, 2006). Spears, who was named to the Coors Classic All-Tournament Team, ranks sixth in the Big 12 in minutes (31.4 mpg), eighth in field goal percentage (.481), ninth in 3-point field goals made (1.8 3mpg) and percentage (.340), 10th in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and free-throw percentage (.714) and 13th in steals (1.7 spg).

Senior center Kara Richards is off to her best start since her freshman year, averaging 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds over the first nine games. Richards tops CU in field goal percentage at .594 (41x69) and would rank among the leaders of the Big 12, but she doesn't have the minimum five field goals made per game to qualify. Richards, who has scored 15 points in each of the last two games, has already surpassed her point total for her entire junior season where she had 97 in 30 games. She already has one more field goal than she did all of last year and needs seven rebounds to match her rebounding total as well. Richards has eclipsed the 20 point mark twice this season, including a career-high 25 in the win over Colorado State, which included a personal best 9-of-9 performance from the free throw line.

Junior guard Bianca Smith is third on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per contest, but has picked up the pace in late December. She's averaging 18.5 points over the last two games and is also getting it done on the defensive end with nine rebounds and seven steals during that span. She's third on the team in rebounding at 5.6 per game, a substantial improvement from her career 1.7 average entering this season. Smith has six or more rebounds in six of nine games including a career high 12 -- all defensive -- against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, her first double-digit rebounding total. She has six or more rebounds in seven of her last 10 games, dating back to last season.

True freshman guard Alyssa Fressle has given the Buffaloes good all-around play. Fressle leads CU and ranks second in the Big 12 steals at 2.6 per game and tops all conference freshmen in steals, scoring (8.8 ppg) and assists (3.6 apg). Overall she is ninth in the Big 12 in assists and is 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1). She logged a team season-high eight assists in the win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, filling out the stat sheet quite nicely by adding eight points, four steals and three rebounds. Fressle had 11 points and five assists in the win over Saint Louis on Dec. 22.

Colorado tweaked its lineup at the point guard position, as sophomore Britney Blythe has started the last two games in place of sophomore Kelly Jo Mullaney. Blythe, who is more of a natural point guard, has responded well to her new duties averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 assists as a starter. She has scored 18 of her 21 points on the season in the last three games, as she also came off the bench to pitch in seven at Seton Hall. Mullaney has also responded well to coming off the bench. She had six points in just 10 minutes of action against Saint Louis. Mullaney has made seven of her last 11 field goal attempts spanning the last four games. She is fifth on the team in scoring (4.9 ppg) and is tied with Spears for second in assists with 17.

Colorado's bench continues to be active. Senior guard/forward Hannah Skildum is averaging 3.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game and has also dished out 13 assists. Freshman forward Julie Seabrook has three or more rebounds in seven of her first nine games including four against Saint Louis. Sophomore center Courtney Dunn is providing minutes at the low post, averaging 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Senior forward Dina Piterniece has played in seven games, matching her total from last year, pitching in seven points and four rebounds. Colorado's bench has grown by one as sophomore guard Chelsea Dale returned from ankle surgery to make her season debut in the closing minutes against UMKC.

Colorado is averaging 67.4 points per game while allowing 62.7 to opponents. The Buffaloes are shooting 42 percent from the field and 69 percent from the free throw line. Colorado's field goal percentage defense has been good, limiting opponents to just 37 percent from the floor and 28 percent from 3-point range, but opponents are enjoying a 6.2 rebound per game edge over the Buffaloes.

Colorado's numbers are significanly better at home where the Buffaloes are 5-2. CU is averaging 75 points per contest while holding opponents to just under 59 per game. The Buffaloes are shooting better as well, hitting 46 percent while holding opponents to 35 percent. Brittany Spears has enjoyed playing at Coors as much as anyone, averaging 23.4 points and 8.6 rebounds at home while hitting 53 percent from the field.

ABOUT THE BENGALS: Idaho State is 3-9 overall having lost four straight and seven of its last eight. The Bengals have played nine of their 12 games away from home, sporting a 2-7 mark in unfamiliar venues. Idaho State is averaging 61 points per game while giving up 66 to opponents. The Bengals are shooting 37 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point range.

Senior guard/forward Michelle Grohs leads Idaho State at 13.1 points per game. She has been on fire from 3-point range this season, hitting 48 percent from downtown (28-of-59). Grohs also averages 7.3 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Oana Iacovita tops the Bengals in rebounding at 8.7 per game and is the second leading scorer at 11.7 per contest. Senior guard Jenna Brown leads ISU in assists (4.3 apg) and is averaging 9.1 points per game. ISU has one Coloradoan on its roster, Broomfield native and Horizon High School graduate Cara Lambert who is averaging 3.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in her sophomore season.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the eighth meeting between Colorado and Idaho State, but just the second since 1982. Colorado holds a 6-1 series lead over ISU, with the last meeting a 95-65 Buffaloes win in the first round of the 2003 Coors Classic. Before Colorado's women officially began Big Eight Conference competition starting with the 1982-83 season, the Buffaloes and Bengals were rivals in the old Intermountain Conference meeting six times from 1980-82. ISU's lone win over CU came during that span, a 61-55 decision in Pocatello on Jan. 22, 1982. The Buffaloes won the rematch later that year in Boulder, 116-55 on Feb. 13, in what remains the third-highest scoring game in CU history.

Kathy McConnell-Miller has never faced Idaho State as a head coach.

ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 12-5 all-time on Dec. 30 and 5-3 at home including a 91-64 win over Jacksonville State last season. The Buffaloes have also won eight of their last 10 "final games of the calendar year."

Colorado is 153-68 all-time in the month of December. The Buffaloes have won 11 of their last 12 games played in the month of December, dating back to 2006.

MORE ON SPEARS SCORING: Sophomore Brittany Spears' scoring numbers have been impressive over the first nine games and ranks among the best totals in team history. Her 181 points and 20.1 points per game average ranks fifth on CU's all-time list through the first nine games off the season. Her 36 points against UMass tied for third all-time on the Buffs' single-game chart. Spears trails only former teammate and CU's second all-time leading scorer Jackie McFarland who is on the list twice, Tera Bjorklund (2003-04) and Jamillah Lang who set Colorado's single-season record for scoring average at 19.2 per game.

CU All-Time Best Through Nine Games

Player (season) Points Avg.

1 Tera Bjorklund (2003-04) 199 22.1

2 Jackie McFarland (2005-06) 194 21.6

3 Jamillah Lang (1993-94) 192 21.3

4 Jackie McFarland (2006-07) 184 20.4

5 Brittany Spears (2008-09) 181 20.1

6 Tera Bjorklund (2002-03) 178 19.8

MORE SMITH FROM DOWNTOWN: Bianca Smith, who set a CU single season record with 80 3-point field goals last year, is beginning to heat up once again from downtown as the Big 12 season nears. After starting the season by hitting just 12 of her first 49 3-point attempts (.245), she has rebounded to hit 8-of-14 (.571) over the last two games. Smith had a career night in terms of accuracy in the win over UMKC hitting 6-of-8 from 3-point range en route to a game-high 21 points. She ranks seventh on CU's career list for 3-point field goals made (132) and attempted (372). Smith needs 18 3-pointers to move into CU's career top five.

SOUTHERN GAME CANCELLED: Colorado's game with Southern University scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, was cancelled due to inclement weather. A rare southern snow storm, which left 3-5 inches in and around the Baton Rouge area the morning of Dec. 11, shut down many businesses, schools and flights. Southern's travel plans were cancelled and the Jaguars were not able find travel alternatives to Boulder for the Dec. 12 date. The game will not be rescheduled in 2008-09.

CU women's basketball season ticket holders and fans who purchased single game tickets for the Southern contest can redeem their tickets for any other game remaining on the women's schedule. For more information, contact the CU Athletic Ticket Office at 303-49BUFFS or 800-87BUFFS.

SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN AT COORS: The Buffaloes offense started the season red hot, breaking the 80-point mark in their first two games (89.5 ppg). It was the first time CU opened the season with back-to-back 80-plus point games since the 2002-03 campaign when the Buffs began with home wins over Rice (85-66) and Detroit Mercy (86-43). The 179 combined points were CU's most since 2000-01 when the Buffs scored 189 in wins over Albany (93-43) and Howard (96-45).

AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Colorado is 50-108 all-time against ranked teams, after falling to No. 16/11 Virginia on Nov. 24. CU had one of its more successful years against ranked teams in 2007-08, sporting a 3-4 records. Prior to the 2007-08 season, the Buffs had suffered 23 straight losses against ranked opponents from 2004-07.

BUFFS IN OPENERS: Colorado improved to 30-5 (.857) all-time in season openers and an outstanding 33-2 (.942) all-time in home openers. Colorado has never lost its overall season opener when played at home (23-0).

HOUSTON TO MISS SEASON, DALE RETURNS: Junior guard Whitney Houston will miss the 2008-09 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Sept. 24 during team individual workouts. She had successful surgery in October and will be able to use her redshirt season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

Houston has averaged 6.1 points and 1.8 assists for the Buffaloes in 59 games over the past two seasons. She was a starter in 20 of those and was in the mix for the starting point guard position once again. Houston was CU's leader in scoring (4.3 ppg) and assists (1.4 apg) among those that primarily came off the bench in 2007-08 and averaged 6.5 points and just under two assists over the final 15 games.

Sophomore guard Chelsea Dale, who underwent successful surgery to stabilize ligaments in her right ankle in early September, made her season debut against UMKC, playing in the final two minutes of the game. She saw action in 12 games as a true freshman in 2007-08.

BUFFS PICKED 11TH...AGAIN: For the third straight season Colorado was picked to finish 11th in the annual Big 12 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.

Oklahoma was picked to win the 2009 title with seven first place votes and 124 points overall. Texas, earning one first place vote, edged out Iowa State for second place with 95 points. The Cyclones, who actually claimed a pair of first place votes came in third with 93. Baylor was fourth with 89 (and one first place vote), followed by Texas A&M (85), Oklahoma State (79, and one first place vote), Kansas State (71), Nebraska (56), Kansas (41), Texas Tech (36), Colorado (18) and Missouri (15).

The Buffaloes have fared better than the Big 12 coaches preseason prediction each of the last three seasons under Kathy McConnell-Miller:

Season Preseason Actual

2008-09 11th ??

2007-08 11th 9th

2006-07 11th t-7th

2005-06 12th 11th

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Colorado once again faces a tough schedule with no less than 17 games against 2008 NCAA or WNIT tournament teams. Seven of CU's opponents are ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches and Associated Press polls and four -- Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma, are in the top 10 of both.

HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 327-100 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.766). The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CECC in 20 of the previous 30 years including a 15-6 mark in 2007-08. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CECC.

BUFFS ON TV: Colorado's schedule features seven games that will be televised either regionally or nationally, all at home and on FSN Rocky Mountain. The Buffaloes will host Nebraska on Saturday, Jan. 31 in a nationally televised contest on FSN. Other games on CU's FSN Rocky Mountain schedule are Colorado State (Nov. 19), Baylor (Jan. 10), Oklahoma (Jan. 21), Texas Tech (Jan. 28), Iowa State (Feb. 7) and Missouri (Feb. 28).

UP NEXT: Colorado will ring in 2009 and close out the nonconference portion of its schedule with a trip to the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Buffaloes will play Pepperdine on Saturday, Jan. 3, at 6 p.m. MST and then face host Hawaii on Sunday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m. MST.