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Buffs, Tigers Renew Rivalry

Jan 23, 2009

THE GAME: The University of Colorado continues Big 12 Conference action by traveling to play the University of Missouri on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 p.m. MST at the Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

BROADCAST: Saturday's game will 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: After four straight games against ranked Big 12 Southern Division opponents, the Buffaloes venture into the Northern Division for the first time this season. The Buffaloes have just four Big 12 road wins since 2005, but two of the four have come against the Tigers at Mizzou Arena.

THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 8-8 overall and 0-4 in the Big 12, dropping four straight after entering the league season on a five-game win streak. The Buffaloes are winless after four conference games for the first time in team history, having to endure their toughest stretch to open any league season. Colorado faced four Big 12 Southern Division teams, all four ranked and two -- Baylor and Oklahoma -- ranked in the Top 5 of at least one poll. The Buffaloes will be looking for their second road win of the season, third away from Boulder. The Buffaloes are 5-12 on the road in the last two seasons after winning just five games in 33 tries in the three previous years (2004-07).

Sophomore Brittany Spears leads Colorado and ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.8 points per game. She had her best Big 12 outing of 2009 in the game against No. 3/2 Oklahoma scoring a game-high 21 points and tying a career-high with four 3-point field goals. Spears has six games of 20-plus points and also leads the team with four double-doubles, most recently a 11-point, 10-rebound effort at Texas. She was named MVP of the Paradise Classic after averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks per game. 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 (33.9 mpg), seventh in rebounding (7.6 rpg), eighth in blocked shots (1.1 bpg), ninth in 3-point field-goal percentage (.372), 10th in field-goal percentage (.436) and 3-pointers made (1.8 3mpg) and 14th in steals (1.6 spg) and free-throw percentage (.690).

Senior center Kara Richards is having her most productive season, ranking second on the team in scoring (11.6 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg) while leading the way from the floor at 54.4 percent (74-of-136). Through four Big 12 games, Richards has 42 rebounds, second best in the Big 12 during that span, and has split them almost evenly between offensive (20) and defensive (22) boards. Richards, who ranks 14th in rebounding on the Big 12's overall rankings, recorded back-to-back games of 15 rebounds to start the conference season, her first two double-digit rebounding efforts this year. 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 10 points per contest and is Colorado's leading 3-point shooter with 37 on the season, ranking second in the Big 12. She rebounded from a 3-game mini slump from downtown to begin the conference season, making just 2-of-15, to hit 5-of-8 in a competitive game against No. 3/2 Oklahoma. It was her third game of 5-plus 3-pointers this season and she has hit 50 percent or better from 3-point range in five of the last nine games.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 4.9 per game, a substantial improvement from her career 1.7 average entering this season. Smith has six or more rebounds in eight of 16 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 (1.9 spg) and assists (3.6 apg). She tops all Big 12 freshmen in steals and assists and is second in scoring at 9.5 per game. Overall in the conference rankings she is seventh in steals, ninth in assists and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9).

Sophomore Britney Blythe has been the starting point guard for the last nine games with sophomore Kelly Jo Mullaney coming off the bench, a lineup that has produced a 5-4 record. Blythe, who is more of a natural point guard, has scored 20 of her season's 41 points in Big 12 play. She had a career night against Baylor, hitting her first four 3-point field goals for a personal-best 12 points. Blythe, who finished 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 (4.0 ppg) and is second in assists with 31.

Colorado is averaging 62.1 points per game while giving up 62.9. The Buffaloes are shooting 41 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range. Colorado has held opponents to 39 percent shooting and just 28 percent from 3-point range.

Colorado has struggled on the road this season averaging just 45 points while giving up 70 in its five true road games, three of which have come against ranked opponents. The Buffaloes have shot 32 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range while giving up 18 more rebounds per game than the opposition. Colorado scored 32 points in its last road game against No. 16/17 Texas, a team record low.

ABOUT THE TIGERS: Missouri is 10-7 overall and 1-3 in Big 12 play coming off a 65-42 loss at Iowa State on Jan. 21. The Tigers entered league play on an eight-game win streak which included road wins against Northwestern and Arkansas. Missouri has the lowest field goal percentage in the Big 12 at 39.5 percent and its 63.9 scoring average is second-to-last, but the Tigers have been strong on the defensive side which has allowed them to already match their win total from last season. MU has kept eight opponents under 60 points this season, all of which came during the nonconference slate. Missouri forces 20.5 turnovers per game and its turnover margin of +4.7 ranks third in the Big 12. The Tigers also rank second in the Big 12 in steals at 10.7 per game.

Missouri has a balanced scoring attack, featuring the inside-outside presence of junior forward Jessra Johnson and senior guard Alyssa Hollins, each averaging 13.2 points per game. Johnson is the Tigers' leader in rebounds (6.8 rpg), assists (2.5 apg) and blocks (1.1 bpg). Hollins, an honorable mention Big 12 selection in 2008, is the deep threat. She's Missouri's all-time leader in 3-point field goals and has 35 this season, ranking third in the Big 12 right behind Colorado's Bianca Smith (37) and Iowa State's Heather Ezell (49). Sophomore forward Shakara Jones averages 10.4 points per game and is shooting 56 percent from the field. Sophomore guard RaeShara Brown ranks second on the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and tops the Tigers in steals with 41.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 64th meeting between Colorado and Missouri, becoming the most played series in team history even if only for a week as the Buffaloes will play their 64th game with Nebraska on Jan. 31. Colorado holds a 37-26 series lead over Missouri. A win on Saturday would be Colorado's 38th over Missouri which would tie its series against Nebraska (38-25) for its most wins over one team. The Buffaloes swept Missouri last season for the first time since 2004, winning 70-58 at Mizzou Arena on Jan. 9, and 63-47 in Boulder on March 5. Missouri holds a 15-13 edge over the Buffaloes in Columbia, but the series is tied at 2-2 at the new Mizzou Arena.

Kathy McConnell-Miller is 3-4 against Missouri as a head coach, 3-3 while with Colorado.


Date Result Date Result

3/5/08 (H) W, 63-47 1/18/06 (A) L, 49-69

1/9/08 (A) W, 70-58 2/9/05 (H) L, 55-58

1/28/07 (A) L, 48-61 1/18/05 (A) W, 56-51

1/3/07 (H) W, 71-59 1/31/04 (A) W, 68-66

2/18/06 (H) L, 57-72 1/18/04 (H) W, 71-54

ON THIS DATE: Colorado is 6-3 all-time on Jan. 24 and 3-1 on the road. Colorado is 159-132 all-time in the month of January.

BENCH PRODUCTION NEEDED: Colorado's bench has been held scoreless in three of four conference games this season and has tallied just four points overall, all coming from freshman forward Julie Seabrook against Oklahoma State. 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.

CHALLENGING START TO LEAGUE PLAY: Colorado has put the wraps on the toughest start to the conference schedule for any Big 12 team this year, playing four straight against ranked teams including a pair of Top 5 opponents. The Buffaloes played well in home losses to No. 6/5 Baylor and No. 3/2 Oklahoma, but struggled in lopsided road decisions at No. 22/22 Oklahoma State and No. 16/17 Texas. The resulting 0-4 start to league play is the first for the Buffaloes in the program's 35-year history, but it's also the only time CU has opened conference action with four straight ranked teams. 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 four straight against ranked teams were 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 on a tear from downtown after a slow beginning. After starting the season by hitting just 12 of her first 49 3-point attempts (.245), she has rebounded to hit 25-of-54 (.463) over the last nine 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 hit five 3-pointers against Oklahoma to move into a tie with Amy Palmer (1992-96) for fifth on CU's all-time list for 3-point field goals with 149. Smith also ranks seventh in 3-point attempts at 412.

SPEARS MOVING UP LISTS: Brittany Spears has moved into Colorado's career Top 10 in 3-point field goals made and attempted as well as blocked shots. She tied a career-high with four 3-point field goals against Oklahoma and in the process moved past La Shena Graham (1994-98) for 10th in career 3-pointers with 86. Spears also ranks 10th in 3-point attempts with 254 and blocked shots with 70.

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.

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 50-112 all-time against ranked teams, after falling to No. 3/2 Oklahoma on Jan. 21. The Buffaloes are 0-5 this season against ranked teams and 3-9 over the past two years. 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. Eight of CU's opponents are ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll while seven are ranked in the Associated Press poll. Iowa State, ranked 22nd in the Coaches' poll, is the second team receiving votes in the AP poll. 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 328-102 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.764). 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 returns home to host Texas Tech University on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The game will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain.