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Buffs Travel to No. 2/2 Oklahoma

Feb 6, 2009

CU at OU... CU will take on their first nationally ranked opponent this season at No. 2/2 Oklahoma (22-1, 8-0 Big 12) on Saturday, Feb. 7, 11:30 a.m. (MST) ... CU has lost 22-straight games in Norman dating back to Feb. 9, 1980 (60-59). The Buffaloes are 12-47 since 1948 and are 4-11 in Big 12 play against OU (0-6 in Norman and 3-3 since 2004) ... CU has lost 24-straight Big 12 regular season games on the road. During that stretch, CU has faced OU twice when the Sooners were ranked at home (Jan. 11, 2003; Feb. 28, 2001). Last road win occurred Jan. 21, 2006 (at Stillwater, Oklahoma State, 80-78, ot) ... CU has never defeated a top-10 opponent on the road.


Complete Game Notes at the bottom of page. 


Arena: Lloyd Noble Center (12,000); Television: Big 12 Network (Altitude Sports & Entertainment); Announcers: Bob Carpenter  (p-b-p), Paul Splittorff (analyst). Radio: KKZN 760; SIRIUS Radio Channel 91. Announcers: Mark Johnson (p-b-p), Charles Johnson (analyst). Internet:  


LOOK AT OU... The Sooners are rolling along off to one of the best starts in Big 12 history. They have won their first eight games by an average of 10.4 points. OU is 13-0 at home overall with four of those in Big 12 play (Texas, 78-63; Nebraska, 72-61; Baylor, 95-76; Texas A&M, 77-71). The Sooners are ranked in six national categories and of the 21 conference stat categories rank either second or third, respectively five times. Head coach Jeff Capel enters his third year (61-28, .685) with four starters returning from last year's NCAA Tournament Team. Top seven OU players listed on page 1 in probable starters and top reserves.


LAST SEASON... Colorado and Oklahoma split last season with the Buffaloes taking a 72-58 home win, while OU took a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal matchup 54-49 in Kansas City. Marcus Hall and Richard Roby each scored 19 points in the home win, while Blake Griffin was the lone Sooner in double-digits (25 pts.). In KC, both teams shot poorly, however OU held a 46-37 advantage of the boards despite 33 percent shooting from the field.  Cory Higgins scored 11 points with eight rebounds.


KELLEY UPDATE... Freshman guard Ryan Kelley has been cleared to practice (as of Feb. 5) and will travel to Oklahoma. It is undetermined whether he will play. Kelley injured his left knee in a Jan. 22 practice. The MRI report on Wed., Jan. 28 determined Kelley has a minor ligament sprain and no surgery is required.


LAST GAME RECAP... Dwight Thorne II scored a game-high 21 points and Cory Higgins added 15, however Nebraska survived a furious rally in the final minute to hold of Colorado, 55-53 Wednesday night. The Cornhuskers (14-7, 4-4 Big 12) won the game at the free throw line making 9-of-14 from the charity stripe in the final 1:39 of the game. Thorne's fifth 3-pointer, from the right corner, tied a career-high for 3-pointers pulling the Buffs to 54-53 with 15 seconds left. Cookie Miller was fouled on the inbounds and sank one of two free throws for the ?Huskers. Higgins (six rebounds, four assists, two steals) brought the ball up for Colorado but missed the go-ahead bucket and Austin Dufault's tip was off the mark.


CU NATIONALLY (as of Feb. 1)... Cory Higgins ranks among the nation's elite players in four categories, while the CU team is ranked in two.


45th Higgins      85.4 Free Throw %

41st  Higgins     2.2 steals per game

88th Higgins      17.5 points per game

99th Higgins      49.8 Field Goal %


44th in field goal percentage (.454)

51st in free throw percentage (.728)


Seven Big 12 games...  Cory Higgins and Dwight Thorne II are each averaging 16.3 ppg. in conference play ... Jermyl Jackson-Wilson is shooting .516 from the field (16-of-31), while Thorne is .514 from the field (38-of-74) ... Higgins leads the team in rebounding (4.7 rpg.), steals (3.3 spg.) and assists (3.3 apg.) ... Thorne II has 17 treys ... Higgins is 41-of-46 from the FT line (.891) ranking fifth in conference only games; while Thorne II is sixth in FG% (.514)


BUFF TIDBITS (team)... CU's last four losses are by an average of 4.3 points ... CU's last three games, averaging only 9.3 turnovers after averaging 20.3 during the first four Big 12 contests ... CU is number one in Big 12-only FT percentage (.730), second in steals (8.9 per game) and rebounding defense (31.9)  ... CU has made a 3-pointer in 216-straight games dating back to the 2001-02 season ... Five games CU failed to record a blocked shot in a game (Western State, SMU, at Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas) ... The 1-6 start in the conference matches last year's record after seven games.


BUFF TIDBITS (individual)...  Cory Higgins and Dwight Thorne II have recorded double-digits in the same game 14 times this season ... Trey Eckloff is not the youngest scholarship MBB player in the Big 12 as stated earlier in the notes. CU freshman Ryan Kelley is. That means, CU has the two youngest scholarship student-athletes in the Big 12 ... Cory Higgins was the lone CU player in double figures against Iowa State, that's the third time this season (Western State, TCU) with only one players 10 or more points ... Of the six game category (points, rebounds, 3-pters., assists, steals, blocks), Cory Higgins has been shutout once (Stanford). He has  led CU in at least one category in each game. At TTU, he led the Buffs in points, rebounds and assists just once ... 15-straight games with the same starting lineup (Tomlinson, Higgins, Dufault, Thorne II, Jackson-Wilson) ... Dufault, Higgins, Thorne II have started all 21 games.


FT RECORD HOLDER... Cory Higgins reigns as the CU and the Big 12 free throw record holder with 45-straight made free throws over eight games. Since then, he rattled off another 23-straight over three games ending at Texas Tech. On the season, he's .856 (125-of-146, 45th nationally as of Feb. 1).


FT PERFECTION... Cory Higgins has performed perfection at the free throw with a 12-of-12 performance for the second time this season, this time against Kansas (Jan. 17). The other was a 12-of-12 effort against Coppin State (Dec. 28).  The first 12-of-12 was second only to a pair of 16-of-16 efforts in CU history, Jo Jo Hunter versus Iowa State in 1980 and Chauncey Billups against Oklahoma in 1996.


Work in progress... Although Coach Bzdelik and his team have had their ups and downs in his second year and with the tough conference season ahead, let's take a look at three of the school's all-time winningest coaches in football, men's and women's basketball in their second season.

  Football: Bill McCartney, 13 seasons (1982-1994), 93-55-5 (.624): 4-7 in second year.

  Men's BB: Sox Walseth, 20 seasons (1957-76), 261-245 (.516): 8-15 in second year.

  Women's BB: Ceal Barry, 22 seasons (1983-2005), 427-242 (.638), 6-22 in second year.


30+ MINUTEMEN... Only four CU players have played 30+ minutes of each game. Cory Higgins has played 30+ minutes in 20 of 21 games; Nate Tomlinson 16 of 20 games (missed a game due to injury); Austin Dufault and Dwight Thorne II 15 of 21 games, and Jermyl Jackson-Wilson played his first game of the season over 30 minutes against Kansas State with 32 (three mins. in OT).


35+MINUTE MEN... More impressively the same four players have recorded 35-plus minutes a number of times. Cory Higgins in 17 games; Dwight Thorne 10 games; Nate Tomlinson nine times, and Austin Dufault four games.


40+MINUTES... Cory Higgins and Dwight Thorne are the only ones to have played 40-plus minutes this season. Higgins played 44 of 45 minutes in the overtime loss to Montana State and all 40 minutes against Louisiana-Monroe and Kansas. He also played the entire game (45 mins) in the overtime loss to K-State. Last season Higgins played over 40 once, 46 minutes in the double-overtime win over Baylor at the Big 12 Basketball Championships. Thorne played 40 of 45 minutes in the overtime loss to K-State Jan. 24.


FTs 5 MINUTES TO PLAY... Sophomore Cory Higgins is the team's most experienced from the free throw line with under five minutes to play (including OT) making 47-of-58 (.810). Here are totals for this season.


2008-09           2-5  Pct.      *0-2              Pct.

Matt Favaro     -          -     2-2 1.000

Cory Higgins   15-17 .882   10-11 .909

Ryan Kelley     1-2 .500     3-4  .750

Dwight Thorne II      2-2     1.000 7-11                  .636

Nate Tomlinson       6-6     1.000 8-15                  .533

Levi Knutson   4-4 1.000    1-2  .500

Casey Crawford      1-2     .500   1-2                   .500

Toby Veal       1-2 .500     1-2   .500

J. Jackson-Wilson   2-3     .000   2-5                   .400

Andrew Zehnder         -     -     1-4          .250

Austin Dufault 3-3 1.000    0-2  .000

Javon Coney   -          -     0-2   .000

Total                         34-40    .850 36-62 .581

 (*-includes overtime)


FALL 2008 SEMESTER... The team G.P.A. for the spring semester was 2.713 ranking as the second highest GPA for the men's basketball team since the Spring of 1999 (Spring 2001 was the highest at 2.74). The CU men had nine student-athletes with a 2.9 grade point average or higher. The team also has four student-athletes with a 3.0 or better G.P.A. (Trent Beckley, Austin Dufault, Trey Eckloff, Levi Knutson).


BROADCAST... The Colorado men's basketball team can be heard live on KKZN AM 760. Mark Johnson and Charles Johnson call the action including the pre- and postgame. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports. Colorado's games will also be streamed live on through the BuffsTV subscription service.


FG%... During non-conference play, the Buffs shot above 50 percent from the floor eight out of 14 games, going 6-2.  That is the most .500 shooting games since the 2000-01 season when the Buffs recorded eight games of .500 or better shooting. The last time CU recorded more than eight games of shooting .500 or better from the floor in non-conference play was the 1985-86 season when they went 8-2 in 10 games.  Ironically, the Buffs were also 8-6 after non-conference play in the 1985-86 season, Tom Miller's first as Colorado's head coach, unfortunately the Buffs finished the season on a 17-game losing streak going 0-15 in conference play (0-1 in the Big 8 Tournament).


YOUTH movement... A combination of 10 underclassmen (five freshmen and five sophomores) highlight the roster matching one of the youngest CU teams in history.  Back in 2006-07, CU had 10 underclassmen (eight freshmen), in addition to the 1992-93 season (four freshmen, six sophomores).


CU IN THE PRO WORLD... There is a number of CU basketball members with ties to the professional ranks. From head coach Jeff Bzdelik to the four student-athletes.

  Coach Bzdelik: Head Coach of the Denver Nuggets (2002-05);

  Casey Crawford: father, Steve played with the Boston Red Sox;

  Austin Dufault: cousin-in-law, Fred Hoiberg played with the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Currently the Assistant General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

  Cory Higgins: father, Rod played in the NBA from 1982-95, currently the general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats;

  Dwight Thorne II: cousin, Acie Law IV played for the Texas A&M Aggies and currently plays with the Atlanta Hawks, and great uncle, Ernie Banks played with the Cubs.


CU SINCE 1996-97...  In the 13-year history of the Big 12 Conference, CU is shooting a team-best from the field and from the free throw line so far this season. Those two stats are the best of any CU team since 1996-97.

Years    PPG FG %       3-Pt.%   FT%   To    W's

2008-09 65.2 .468 .349 .730  14.1     9

2007-08 62.4 .451 .343 .684   13.4   12

2006-07 69.1 .417 .313 .655  17.5     7

2005-06 76.8 .434 .342 .646  14.0   20

2004-05 71.6 .435 .353 .629  14.4   14   

2003-04 74.2      .464      .372      .621      14.6   18

2002-03 75.2 .443 .326 .669  14.0   20

2001-02 79.7 .453 .357 .677  17.0   15

2000-01 80.6 .460 .359 .715  16.5   15

1999-00 75.2 .426 .339 .686  14.3   18

1998-99 73.1 .414 .344 .702  14.7   18

1997-98 71.4 .404 .346 .688  14.3   13

1996-97 73.1 .420 .362 .681  13.9   22


RAINBOW CLASSIC RECAP... CU went 1-2 over the three days with its lone win coming on the opening day against Coppin State. CU sophomore Cory Higgins was named to the All-Tournament team leading the Buffaloes in scoring in every game and averaging 18 points a game. He also recorded his first career double-double (21 pts., 10 rebs.) against Coppin State. CU averaged 66.3 ppg., shot .489 from the field (69-of-141) with an impressive .852 from the free throw line (46-of-54). All-Tourney Team: Cory Higgins, Colorado; Calvin Betts, Buffalo; Roderick Flemings, Hawai?i; Mike Trimboli, Vermont; Marcus Walker, Colorado State; Andy Robinson, Buffalo (MVP).


CECC RECORD...maybe a school record? Sophomore guard Cory Higgins was the first CU student-athlete to lead the team in rebounds AND assists the first two games of any season since 1973-74. It's a Coors Events Conference Center mark (building opened in 1979). The research was stopped at the 1972-73 season because assists were not kept. So, in the last 35 years, no CU player has led his team in rebounding AND assists in the first two games of the season.


TV APPEARANCES... CU will play on television 20 times this season, six of those nationally (FSN, ESPN, ESPNU 4 times). Here are the rest ... ABC Regional: 1; FSN: 1; ESPN: 1; ESPNU: 4; Big 12 Network (previously ESPN Regional): 5; FSN RM: 8.


VOLUNTEERS... One Saturday, Dec. 6, the CU men's basketball team and more than 150 community volunteers teamed up to deliver gift baskets to nearly 1,000 low-income families.  The CU men's team visited the Golden West senior residence in Boulder. The program was associated with RSVP of Boulder County.


HAWAII BOUND...AGAIN... The Buffaloes will be making another trip to the Hawaiian Islands playing in the 2009-10 Maui Invitational. The dates are Nov. 23-25 (Mon.-Wed.) of Thanksgiving week. It will be CU's first-ever appearance in Maui hosted by Division II college Chaminade, and sponsored by EA Sports. The Buffaloes will be one of eight schools participating in the 26th edition of the tournament. Joining CU next year will be Arizona, Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Maryland, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin.