One day, I hope to come onto this site and say "fortunes reverse, Buffs finally get over the hump and win one of those close ones." Tonight would be a good game to start as the men's basketball team heads off to Lincoln to play the Huskers. Nebraska bring a pretty balanced attack to the court every night with seven players scoring over six points a game. The Buffs go at it a different way with Cory Higgins and Dwight Thorne doing the bulk of the, well, everything. Higgins is coming off a career game scoring 34 points and garnering 8 rebounds. It is scary to think about where this Buffs team would be without Higgins. He leads the team in minutes, points, rebounds and steals. What Higgins has been doing has been pretty spectacular when you compare him to the rest of the Big 12. Here is where he ranks is some of the major statistical categories in the conference: 3rd in points per game, 5th in field goal percentage, 2nd in free throw percentage, and 2nd in steals per game. Yes, it is really scary to think about the Buffs without Higgins. Dwight Thorne has really stepped up his play on the offensive end the last month of play but Higgins is what makes the engine go. Many people, including B.G. Brooks from the Rocky Mountain News, thinks Higgins is first team All-Big 12 worthy.
Colorado and Nebraska met up less than a month ago in Boulder where the Huskers pulled out one of those close wins that have been haunting the Buffs. In fact, CU's six of nine Big 12 losses are by an average of 5.2 points. For a young team, that is progress but extremely frustrating. In the first meeting against the Huskers, the Buffs never led but were in at the end, losing 53 - 55. Dwight Thorne scored 21 while Higgins led in every other major category but Colorado could never get over that hump, just like the Texas game. If you remember, Colorado didn't take the lead against the Longhorns either but stuck with them the entire game. After the first meeting with the Huskers, you could tell Bzdelik's frustration level was at an all-time high:
"We're not strong enough; we're not tough enough," Bzdelik said, lamenting his team's failure to draw fouls, finish around the rim and box out. "You can blame that on youth, if you want to. But I'm not into excuses.
"I'm not into moral victories. I know some people are around here. I'm not. We need to be strong, we need to be tough. ... Every possession is critical for a team that doesn't have much margin for error."
Yes, the Buffs kept it close in the game earlier this year but that was at home. This one is in Lincoln. The Buffs are winless on the road this year (0 - 8) and have lost 26 consecutive conference games on the road. Colorado has played teams like Kansas and Oklahoma tough away from the Coors Event Center but have not garnered that elusive victory. Nebraska, on the flip side, is 12 - 3 at home and are still battling for an NCAA at large berth. They currently sit at 15 - 8 and probably need to go 5 - 1 in their remaining six conference games (that one loss can't be against Kansas State) to sneak in. If they go 4 - 2, they probably need to win two games in the conference tournament to get in. Tonight, the oddsmakers have CU at a 12 point dog. Tip off is at 7:05 pm on ESPNU. A Buffs win tonight would probably crush the dreams of the Huskers to advance to the NCAA tournamentm, which would be nice! For more on tonights game, check out the following links:
CUBuffs.com - "The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series 74-69 and 50-13 in Lincoln since the 1903. CU is 2-10 in Big 12 play in Lincoln and have lost their last four games there. CU last won at the Devaney Sports Center Jan. 14, 2004 (68-60)."
Buffzone.com - the title says it all; "Higgins Needs Help For Buffs to Break Through"
Huskers.com - "The Cornhuskers enter the game with the Big 12 Conference's top defense, allowing 59.0 points per game. NU ranked 13th nationally in scoring defense entering the week. The Buffaloes are ranked last in the Big 12 in scoring offense (65.0 ppg), just behind 10th-place Nebraska (65.7 ppg). CU ranks ninth in scoring defense (67.2 ppg)."
In other news:
Texas Tech's current coach, Mike Leach, has not reached a deal on a new contract yet and it looks to be getting pretty interesting. Leach is still under contract for next two years but this isn't making Red Raider nation very happy. For more information on this developing story, check out DoubleTNation, who have a good wrap up today. Right now, they are very frustrated over there and Seth, the lead writer, makes a great point that this open ended contract issue will impact Texas Tech on the recruiting trail which may lead to Leach's demise.
Probably one of the most decorated Colorado Buffaloes athletes ever, track star Jenny Barringer is at it again. She continues to dominate as she "recorded the top mark in the NCAA Division I 5,000-meter run on Saturday at the Husky Classic. Along the way, she ran the second fastest mark ever by an American at 15 minutes, 1.70 seconds." She was named Big 12 athlete of the week. Barringer also represented the United States of America last year in the olympics.