Remember where you were January 21st, 2006? Neither do I but that is the last time Colorado won a road game in Big 12 play. If you're counting, that is the better part of four seasons and 36 total games ago. The Buffs haven't won any road game since December 21st, 2007 against Colorado State. Combine the football team's losing ways on the road (12 consecutive defeats) and Buff fans were starting to question when they would ever see another win on the away from Boulder.
Those are some staggering numbers. Basically since Jon and I started this site called The Ralphie Report, we have not been able to celebrate a road win for either the basketball team or the football team.
Well, it has finally happened!
In the last away game of the year and with a post season birth potentially hanging in the balance, Jeff Bzdelik and the Colorado Buffaloes (14 - 15, 5 - 10) played with an urgency Tuesday night and went on to handle the Nebraska Cornhuskers (14 - 16, 2 - 13) 81 - 68 in Lincoln. Yes in Lincoln!
Colorado came out of the gates scoring at will, shooting well over 75.0% for a large part of the first half and ending the game at 61.9% from the field. Casey Crawford, Alec Burks and Cory Higgins were magical all night. The past two games, Crawford has provided instant offense and an outside scoring threat that compliments the dribble drives of Burks and Higgins. Off a 10 point performance in the Buffs' last victory against Iowa State, Crawford dropped in 20 points on 7 of 8 shooting including 6 of 7 from downtown. As a team, the Buffs shot 70.6% (12-17) from the three point line, by far their best performance of the year from beyond the arc.
Burks and Higgins continue to give Buff fans optimism for the future. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, both Burks and Higgins will be back in Boulder next year as two of the top 10 scorers in the conference. The young freshman Burks came off one of his worst performances of his career against Iowa State to score 19 points on 7 of 9 shooting. One of the more amazing things about Alec's first year is his efficient scoring. You won't see many games where Burks shoots a bad percentage with double digit-plus shot attempts. His maturity and ability score without a multitude shots has been a thing of beauty this year. For the 2009 - 2010 season, Burks has shot at a 52.3% clip.
The Buffs leading scorer, Cory Higgins, followed up his 33 point outing against the Cyclones with 19 points as four players from Colorado scored in double digits. Colorado continues to struggle rebounding as Nebraska grabbed 38 boards, 18 of them offensive while the Buffs only had 18 total rebounds. If Jeff Bzdelik can sign a junior college center to patrol the paint this offseason, his team can turn some heads next year in the Big 12. They are incredibly efficient from the field, shoot free throws well and have two elite scorers. Rebounding and post play is the missing ingredient for this team to take the next step.
Currently, the Buffs are 8th in the conference, a sizable improvement from 12th place a year ago and a predicted 12th place finish this year. With one game remaining at home against Texas Tech, who lost to Nebraska 79 - 83 this past Saturday, the Buffs have a chance to lock up the eighth spot with a win as well as a 15 - 15 regular season record and six wins in the conference. Last year, Colorado only won one game in Big 12 play. Finishing with a win would allow the Buffs to play either Texas Tech or Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, two teams that are very beatable to get the Buffs to 16 - 15 which would guarantee them a non-losing season. Even with a loss, Colorado would not finish worse than ninth in the conference, setting up a rematch with Texas Tech. However, a loss would all but eliminate the Buffs from a CBI or NIT tournament birth.
Celebrate this road victory Ralphie Report readers, it is the first time we have been able to do so together!