Buffs In Nebraska For Final Road Game
THE GAME: The University of Colorado will play its final regular season road game of the season as the Buffaloes travel to face the University of Nebraska on Tuesday, March 2, at 6:05 p.m. MST at the Bob Devaney Center in Lincoln.
BROADCAST: Tuesday'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 video streaming of Tuesday's battle will be available to BuffsTV subscribers at CUBuffs.com. Live internet audio of all CU basketball games is available through Yahoo! Sports.
THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is 11-15 overall, residing in 12th place in the Big 12 Conference standings at 3-11. The Buffaloes could still finish as high as a tie for seventh place in the league standings, but would have to win their final two games and recieve some help. If CU could win its last two, it's concieveable there could be a five or even a six-way tie for seventh place. With the logjam that is the bottom half of the Big 12, predicting seedings is virtually impossible as nearly every remaining game will affect post-season positioning. Colorado will need to win its final two in order to match last season's Big 12 record of 5-11 when the Buffs finished in ninth. CU has dropped six of its last seven and will be searching for its second Big 12 road win of the season and fourth overall away from Boulder.
Sophomore guard/forward Brittany Spears leads Colorado and ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring at 18.2 points per game. She registered her 11th 20-point game of the season by equalling a personal Big 12 best with 26 against Missouri. Spears has eight double-doubles this season, one more than her total from last season and has three in the last six games. 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 second in the Big 12 in minutes (35.4 mpg), seventh in rebounding (7.9 rpg), eighth in steals (1.9 spg) and 3-point percentage (.328), 10th in field-goal percentage (.428) and blocks (1.1 bpg) and 12th in free-throw percentage (.732) and 3-pointers made (1.5 3mpg).
Senior center Kara Richards is having her most productive season, ranking second on the team in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) while leading the way from the floor at 57.3 percent (126-of-220). Over the last four games she has averaged 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest while shooting 63.2 percent from the field (24-of-38). She has three of her five career double-doubles in those last four games, including a 12-point, 10-rebound effort in the Missouri game. Richards, who is 10th in rebounding on the Big 12's overall rankings, has five double-digit rebounding efforts this year, all coming during Big 12 games including back-to-back games of 15 rebounds to start the conference season. Richards was named to the Paradise Classic All-Tournament team averaging 14 points and seven rebounds while hitting 71 percent from the field (12-of-17). Richards has eclipsed the 20 point mark four times this season, and twice in the last three games. She scored 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 9.8 points per contest and is Colorado's leading 3-point shooter with 63 on the season, ranking second in the Big 12 (2.4 3mpg). Her 33 3-pointers during league play are the most in the Big 12. Smith had one of the most memorable stretches in team history in January making 20-of-33 (.606) over a four-game span. During that four game run, Smith twice tied the school record for 3-pointers made in a game (7) and in one half (5). She has five games of 5-plus 3-pointers this season and she has hit 50 percent or better from 3-point range in 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 4.1 per game, a substantial improvement from her career 1.7 average entering this season. Smith has six or more rebounds in eight 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 all Big 12 freshmen in steals (1.7 spg), assists (3.5 apg) and minutes (30.9 mpg) and is third in scoring at 7.7 per game. Overall in the conference rankings she is fifth in assists, 11th in steals and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.9). She tied her personal best and team season high with eight assists at Iowa State and is averaging 5.3 assists over the last four games.
Sophomore guard Kelly Jo Mullaney has returned to the starting lineup for the past four games and has responded with her best stretch of games to date. She is averaging 10.5 points over the last four contests, while shooting 50 percent from the field (17-of-34). She scored a career-high 20 points at Iowa State hitting 8-of-11 from the floor, including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Overall Mullaney is fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 5.4 points per game.
Mullaney replaced sophomore Britney Blythe, who had started the previous 15 games. Blythe has had her best moments during the Big 12 season, where she has scored 36 of her season's 57 points. 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.
Guard Hannah Skildum made her second start of the season at Iowa State, replacing Fressle. Skildum's minutes have picked up lately as the senior captain has played double-digit minutes the last six games. One of CU's better defensive players, Skildum had five blocked shots in the past four games including a career-best three in the win over Kansas on Feb. 18.
Colorado is averaging 61 points per game while giving up 64 to its opponents. The Buffaloes are shooting 42 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point range. Rebounding has been a tough area this season as opponents are averaging 5.4 more per game than the Buffaloes.
ABOUT THE CORNHUSKERS: Nebraska is 13-14 overall and tied with Oklahoma State and Missouri for ninth place in the Big 12 at 4-10. After beginning the Big 12 season 1-8, the Cornhuskers have won three of their last five, all three wins coming at home. The Huskers are averaging 61.9 points per game while giving up 61.5 Nebraska is shooting 39.2 percent from the field and hitting on 32.9 percent from 3-point range.
Junior forward Cory Montgomery leads Nebraska at 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Junior guard Yvonne Turner is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 per contest and is Nebraska's top defender with 57 steals, the fourth best total in the Big 12 this year. Sophomore guard Dominique Kelley leads Nebraska in assists (2.5 apg) and is third in scoring at 9.8 per outing.
SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 65th meeting between Colorado and Nebraska with the Buffaloes holding a 39-25 series lead. The 39 wins over Nebraska are the most against one squad in team history. Tuesday's game will pull this series even with Missouri as the most played in CU history. Colorado snapped a seven-game Nebraska winning streak in the series with a 75-73 win in Boulder on Jan. 31. Nebraska holds a 19-11 series lead in Lincoln and has won four straight. CU's last win at Nebraska was a 63-60 decision on March 3, 2004. Kathy McConnell-Miller is 1-7 against Nebraska as a head coach, all with Colorado.
COLORADO AND NEBRASKA, LAST 10:
Date Result Date Result
1/31/09 (H) W, 75-73 3/7/06 (N) L, 59-67
3/2/08 (A) L, 55-63 1/28/06 (A) L, 54-70
2/6/08 (H) L, 71-80 1/4/06 (H) L, 62-80
2/27/07 (A) L, 70-90 3/2/05 (H) W, 78-76
2/10/07 (H) L, 44-54 1/5/05 (A) L, 62-84
FAMILIAR FACES: Colorado freshman Julie Seabrook will be reunited with two former Canadian basketball teammates on Saturday. Seabrook, a native of North Vancouver, B.C., played with Nebraska sophomore guard Kaitlyn Burke and freshman forward Harleen Sidhu on British Columbia's Provincial teams. Seabrook also played with Burke on Canada's 2007 U19 FIBA World Championship Tournament team in Slovakia. Seabrook and Burke both attended the National Elite Development Academy in Hamilton, Ont., although Burke was a year older, attending NEDA in 2006-07 while Seabrook was there in 2007-08.
MORE SMITH FROM DOWNTOWN: Bianca Smith, who set a CU single-season record with 80 3-point field goals last year, has established herself as one of the Big 12's most dangerous outside shooters. After starting the season by hitting just 12 of her first 49 3-point attempts (.245), she has hit 51-of-112 (.455) over the last 18 games and 31-of-66 (.470) over the last 11. She tied the single-game school record for 3-pointers made in one game (7) and in one half (5) twice in a three game span in which she was 15-of-25 (.600) from downtown.
CU players have now made seven 3-pointers in one game seven times with Smith leading the way with three of those instances. Her seven 3-pointers at Missouri was only the second time it had been achieved on the road, the other belonging to Annan Wilson who was CU's first player with seven 3-pointers doing so at Kansas State on Jan. 14, 1989.
Five 3-pointers in one half has now been done five times, with Smith recording three of them. Kate Fagan, at Syracuse on Dec. 31, 2002, and Shelley Sheetz at Tennessee on Dec. 20, 1993, are the other two.
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 23 points. She is second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made (63) and percentage (.391) and in league only games she leads the conference in 3-pointers made (33) and is second in percentage (.407).
She is fifth on CU's all-time list for 3-point field goals with 175 and 3-point attempts at 470. Smith's 143 3-pointers over the last two seasons is the second best mark in team history for a two-year spanand she needs seven more to pass Kate Fagan's record mark of 149 between 2002-04:
Most 3-pointers Over Two Seasons
Name Seasons 3's
1. Kate Fagan 2002-04 149
2. Bianca Smith 2007-09 143
3. Shelley Sheetz 1992-94 139
4. Mandy Nightingale 2000-02 131
5. Jenny Roulier 2000-02 130
SPEARS' 400 DOUBLE: Brittany Spears is the fifth player in CU history to score 400 in her first two seasons in Boulder and the fourth to do it in freshman-sophomore campaigns (Debbie Descano scored 400 as a junior and senior after transferring to CU after her sophomore season). One member of the current 400 Double Club had a great seat to witness Spears join the group, as current CU Director of Basketball Operations Tracy Tripp was the third member, scoring 860 points over the 1985-87 seasons.
With 944 career points, she is the second highest scorer in team history through a sophomore season, trailing only CU Athletic Hall of Fame member Lisa Van Goor (1,288). Spears is just 15 points away from cracking the career Top 25, and on pace to become the second fastest to 1,000, trailing only Van Goor.
400 In First Two Seasons At CU:
Name Seasons Total
Debbie Descano *484 in ?79-80; 452 in ?80-81 936
Lisa Van Goor 610 in ?80-81; 678 in ?81-82 1,288
Tracy Tripp 405 in ?85-86; 455 in ?86-87 860
Shelley Sheetz 437 in ?91-92; 486 in ?92-93 923
Brittany Spears 472 in ?07-08; 472 in ?08-09 944
*Junior and Senior Seasons
Spears has already moved into several of Colorado's career Top 10 lists. She is currently eighth in blocked shots with 80 and ninth in 3-point field-goals made (97) and attempted (298).
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MINUTES: Brittany Spears achieved a rare feat by playing all 40 minutes in three straight games, beginning with the win at Missouri and continuing with home games against Texas Tech and Nebraska. She became the first player to play 40 or more in three straight since the 1999-2000 season when Mandy Nightingale played all 40 minutes in back-to-back home games against Kansas State and Texas and then played 44 of 45 minutes in an overtime loss at Baylor. As for playing every minute for three straight games, that hadn't happened since Diane Hiemstra played all 40 for four straight during in February 1984 (at Kansas, vs. Iowa State, vs. Oklahoma State, at Kansas State). Hiemstra also had a string of three straight one year earlier, playing every minute of CU's final three games of 1983 (vs. Kansas, at Oklahoma, vs. Kansas State).
Spears' minute streak came to an end during the second half of the Kansas game in Lawrence as she went to the bench at the 12:20 mark after picking up her fourth foul. That stopped a span of 172 consecutive minutes played by Spears, dating back to the first half of the Oklahoma game. Spears ranks second in the Big 12 in minutes in both overall (35.4 mpg) and conferene only games (37.5 mpg).
RICHARDS REBOUNDS: Senior Kara Richards had 10 rebounds against Missouri, becoming the 18th player in team history to secure 500 rebounds. Richards currently ranks 18th on CU's all-time list for rebounds with 505. She is averaging 7.3 this season, a career best and a drastic improvement from the two per game she averaged as a junior. Richards has been especially tough on the offensive boards, ranking fourth in the Big 12 at 3.3 per game. Her numbers have increased during the Big 12 schedule as she is third among league players with 3.9 per contest. Her total of 86 offensive rebounds this year is 25 more than her overall rebounding total in 30 games as a junior.
SHE CAN SHOOT TOO: Kara Richards tops the Buffaloes in field goal accuracy this season at 57.3 percent (126-of-220) and is on pace to finish her career among the best in team history. Her career percentage of 53.0 currently ranks 10th on CU's all-time list. Richards' best season in terms of accuracy was actually her sophomore year in 2006-07 when she ranked second in the Big 12 at 57.9 percent, trailing only teammate Jackie McFarland on the league's overall charts. Her mark in 2006-07 is the 12th best single-season percentage in team history.
CHALLENGING START TO LEAGUE PLAY: Colorado 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.
AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: Colorado is 50-116 all-time against ranked teams, after falling to No. 25/24 Iowa State on Feb. 25. The Buffaloes are 0-9 this season against ranked teams and 3-13 over the past two years. Prior to the 2007-08 season, the Buffs had suffered 23 straight losses against ranked opponents from 2004-07.
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).
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 currently ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches and six are in the Associated Press Top 25, and it has been as many as eight during various points of the season. Oklahoma and Baylor are in the Top 10 of both.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 330-105 all-time record at the Coors Events/Conference Center (.759). 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 close out the 2008-09 regular season on Senior Day as the Buffaloes host Kansas State University on Saturday, March 7, at 2 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.