Buffs Host No. 3 Oklahoma
THE GAME: The University of Colorado continues Big 12 Conference action by returning home to host No. 3 (AP & WBCA) ranked University of Oklahoma on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center.
BROADCAST: Wednesday's game will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain. Marc Stout will handle play-by-play duties along with legendary CU coach Ceal Barry with the color and Alanna Rizzo on the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast live on KKZN 760 AM with Mike Rice giving the play-by-play and Carol Callan of USA Basketball with the color commentary. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports.
OPENING TIP: Colorado is playing its fourth straight game against a ranked Big 12 Southern Division opponent to open the league schedule, a first in team history. The Buffaloes will attempting to avoid their first ever 0-4 start to conference play. CU has started a league season 0-3 on five previous occasions, most recently in 2005, and have won the game four in each instance. Oklahoma provides a tough task for the Buffaloes. The No. 3 Sooners are the highest ranked opponent CU has played since hosting No. 2 LSU on Nov. 27, 2004
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 8-7 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12, dropping three straight after entering the league season on a five-game win streak. Colorado is happy to be back home at the Coors Events Center where it has won 20 of its last 28 outings.
Sophomore Brittany Spears leads Colorado and ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.5 points per game although she's been held to an average of 12 in the first three conference games. She recorded her fourth double-double of the season, and 11th of her career, by scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds at Texas. She was named MVP of the Paradise Classic after averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks per game. Spears 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 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 third in the Big 12 in minutes (33.7 mpg), sixth in rebounding (7.7 rpg), eighth in blocked shots (1.2 bpg), ninth in field-goal percentage (.438), 10th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.352) and 14th in free-throw percentage (.687) and 3-point field goals (1.7 3mpg).
Senior center Kara Richards had a strong nonconference season and has carried it over to the Big 12, averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while hitting 57.3 percent from the field (71-of-124). She's among the league's top 20 players in scoring, rebounding and free-throw percentage and would rank second in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage but doesn't have the minimum of five made per game. Richards has recorded back-to-back games of 15 rebounds to start the Big 12 season, her first two double-digit rebounding efforts of the season and a single-game personal best. Richards was named to the Rainbow Classic All-Tournament team averaging 14 points and seven rebounds while hitting 71 percent from the field (12-of-17). Richards, who has already more points, field goals and rebounds than she had in 30 games as a junior, 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 9.7 points per contest and Colorado's leading 3-point shooter with 32 on the season, second in the Big 12. Named to the Paradise Classic All-Tournament team, Smith had a game-high 23 points against Hawaii on 6-of-7 from 3-point range, a personal best from downtown in terms of accuracy. She's third on the team in rebounding at 5.1 per game, a substantial improvement from her career 1.7 average entering this season. Smith has six or more rebounds in eight of 15 games including a career high 12 -- all defensive -- against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, her first double-digit rebounding total.
True freshman guard Alyssa Fressle has given the Buffaloes good all-around play. Fressle leads CU in steals (1.8 spg) and assists (3.8 apg). She tops all Big 12 freshmen in steals and assists and is second in scoring at 9.3 per game. Overall in the conference rankings she is seventh in assists, ninth in steals and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0).
Sophomore Britney Blythe has been the starting point guard for the last eight games with sophomore Kelly Jo Mullaney coming off the bench, a lineup that has produced a 5-3 record. Blythe, who is more of a natural point guard, had a career night against Baylor, hitting her first four 3-point field goals for a personal-best 12 points. Blythe, who finsihed the night a career-best 4-of-6 from the field, had made just 1-of-12 3-point field goals this season and 5-of-33 in her career prior to the Baylor game. Mullaney is fifth on the team in scoring (4.3 ppg) and is second in assists with 31.
Colorado is averaging 62.3 points per game and has given up the exact same number to its opponents through 15 games. The Buffaloes are shooting 41 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free throw line.
Colorado's numbers have been much better at home. The Buffaloes are averaging 72 points per game at home while shooting 44 percent from the field. CU is only allowing opponents 59 points per game while holding them to 36 percent shooting. The Buffaloes are outrebounding opponents by just over one per game at home.
ABOUT THE SOONERS: No. 3/3 Oklahoma is 14-2 overall and tied with Baylor atop the early Big 12 standings at 3-0. The Sooners have won 10 straight including a 71-59 win over No. 6 Texas A&M on Jan. 18. Oklahoma's only two losses have come to the two teams above them in the national rankings -- No. 1 Connecticut (106-78 on Nov. 30) and No. 2 North Carolina (80-79 on Nov. 23). Oklahoma leads the Big 12 and ranks second in nation in field-goal percentage hitting 48.6 percent from the floor. OU is the fourth-best scoring team in Division I, averaging 82 points per game and their 12.3 rebound per game advantage trails only Baylor on the national rankings.
Oklahoma is once again led by All-American and National Player of the Year candidate Courtney Paris who tops the Big 12 in rebounding (13.3 rpg) and field-goal percentage (.609) while ranking fifth in scoring (15.4 ppg). Her twin sister Ashley is also averaging double-double on the season with 14.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Danielle Robinson is averaging 12.4 points and 6.2 assists per game while logging a Big 12 best 93.3 percent from the free-throw line.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 54th meeting between Colorado and Oklahoma with the Buffaloes holding a 33-20 series lead. The Sooners have had the upper hand in recent years winning the last six and 11 of the last 13 meetings. Colorado is 16-5 against Oklahoma in Boulder, but the Sooners have taken the last two. CU's last two wins in the series both took place during the 2002-03 season. The Buffaloes' last win in Boulder was a 61-57 triumph on Feb. 16, 2003, and CU's last overall win the series was a 73-68 decision in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Big 12 Championship.
Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-7 against Oklahoma as a head coach, 0-3 with Colorado.
COLORADO AND OKLAHOMA, LAST 10:
Date Result Date Result
2/9/08 (A) L, 62-86 2/15/04 (A) L, 58-78
1/20/07 (H) L, 67-82 3/12/03 (N) W, 73-68
1/7/06 (A) L, 61-84 2/16/03 (H) W, 61-57
2/16/05 (H) L, 61-77 3/25/02 (N) L, 60-94
3/10/04 (N) L, 56-63 1/2/02 (A) L, 67-78
ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 9-5 all-time on Jan. 21 and 8-3 at home. Colorado is 159-131 all-time in the month of January.
BENCH PRODUCTION NEEDED: Colorado's bench has been held scoreless in two of three conference games this season and has tallied just four points overall, all coming from freshman forward Julie Seabrook against Baylor. The Buffs have had some success with bench production this season. CU's bench has scored in double-digits in seven games, sporting a 5-2 record during that span. Colorado's bench has twice scored 22 points in a game, in the season opening win over UCF and the win over Idaho State on Dec. 30. In the Idaho State game, Seabrook recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Her 12 points off the bench were the most by a Buff this season.
CU IN BIG 12 OPENERS: Colorado dropped to 6-7 in Big 12 openers after the loss to Baylor. CU is 4-8 in its first road Big 12 game of the season, including a 70-58 win at Missouri in 2008 to open league play. The Buffaloes are 20-15 all-time in conference openers, including the Big Eight and Intermountain Conferences.
CHALLENGING START TO LEAGUE PLAY: Colorado is opening its Big 12 schedule with four straight games against ranked teams, a first in team history. The Buffaloes opened with losses to No. 6/5 Baylor, No. 22/22 Oklahoma State and No. 16/17 Texas. Colorado opened the 2002 Big 12 season with three straight games against ranked league opponents. The Buffaloes, who were ranked themselves between No. 14-21 during that stretch, lost all three of those matchups, falling to No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 21/20 Texas and No. 14/18 Kansas State. That stretch was the final three games of a five-game span against ranked opponents as the Buffaloes ended nonconference play with a loss at No. 20 Florida and win over No. 21/22 LSU. CU's upcoming four straight games against ranked teams are the most since that same five-game stretch during the 2001-02 season. The Buffaloes would go on to play a school record 16 games against ranked teams that season, winning six. CU's tough schedule paid dividens that season as the Buffaloes won 14 of their final 16 games, advancing to the 2002 Elite Eight.
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 begins. After starting the season by hitting just 12 of her first 49 3-point attempts (.245), she has rebounded to hit 20-of-46 (.434) over the last eight games. Smith had a career night in terms of accuracy in the win over Hawaii hitting 6-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a season-high 23 points. She is tied for sixth with former teammate Jasimina Ilic (2003-07) on CU's career list for 3-point field goals made (144) and ranks seventh in attempts (404). Smith needs just six 3-pointers to move into fifth place.
BALANCED SCORING ATTACK: Colorado had its most balanced scoring attack in over two years as five players scored in double-digits during the Buffs 73-57 win over Idaho State. Brittany Spears and Kara Richards each had 14 points, Julie Seabrook and Bianca Smith each had 12 and Alyssa Fressle had 11. It was almost six in double-digits as Kelly Jo Mullaney had eight off the bench. It was CU's first game with five in double-digits since a 77-71 win at Kansas on Feb. 1, 2006. Current CU senior Hannah Skildum was one of the five with double digits in that game, scoring 11 off the bench as a freshman.
SOUTHERN GAME CANCELLED: Colorado's home 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 50-111 all-time against ranked teams, after falling to No. 16/17 Oklahoma State on Jan. 17. 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 while Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma are in the top 10 of both.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 328-101 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.765). 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 face its first Big 12 Northern Division opponent of the season by traveling to play the University of Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 p.m. MST at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia.