Buffs Set for Black Friday Matchup
KNOXVILLE – Head coach JR Payne and her Colorado Buffaloes travel to No. 23 Tennessee for a Black Friday showdown at Thomas-Boling Arena.
Colorado (4-1) will be making its first trip to Knoxville since Dec. 20, 1993. The Buffaloes and Lady Vols have met on four previous occasions, the last coming being in Iowa City, Iowa, in the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
The Buffs are no stranger to the big stage, playing in hostile arenas throughout the Pac-12. The lore of Tennessee women's basketball cannot be denied, but Colorado has built a reputation in the last couple of seasons of not being afraid of anybody.
"It's exciting to go play another team on a historic floor," Payne explained. "Tennessee has that glory and history and that is exciting for us. We're the team that's not afraid of anybody. We play really great teams in our league every single night and I think we see Tennessee as another really great team like the Stanford's and the Oregon's. We're just excited to get an opportunity to play someone like that this early in the season."
Colorado will use the Thanksgiving holiday as another opportunity to grow tighter as a unit. The Buffs have been together ever since the team's trip to Spain in August.
"I think our team is naturally very close," Payne said of spending the holiday together. "Spain kind of kickstarted all that. We're excited to all be together. We've done some different things throughout November to remind us of what we are thankful for. I think we're a really tight-knit group and it sort of makes sense for us to be together on Thanksgiving."
The Buffs battled back from eight down against Air Force to earn a 71-63 win last Saturday. The Buffs were able to outlast the Falcons despite a season-low in made field goals (23) and matching their season-high in turnovers (20).
"I don't think we improved [from Texas Tech] against Air Force," Payne noted. "We just didn't have a lot of flow. I don't know if it was due to travel, having been on the road and then playing right away. But I didn't think we played particularly well. We're looking to play better next time around."
Tennessee (2-4) started the season ranked No. 5 in the nation, but has had losses to Ohio State, Indiana, UCLA and Gonzaga to start the year. The Lady Vols are coming off a stretch of three games in three days, playing at the Bad Boy Mowers Women's Battle 4 Atlantis. Rickea Jackson leads UT with 17.7 points per game.
Friday's game will be carried on the SEC Network (5 p.m. MT). Courtney Lyle and Steffi Sorensen will have the call. Cory Lopez will be live with pregame coverage starting at 4:30 MT on the Colorado Radio Network.