The Buffs travel to Kansas today (2:00 pm MT, Altitude Sports) to take on the #1 ranked team in the nation. The Buffs played extremely well in their first meeting, taking the Jayhawks to overtime before falling 72 - 66. Colorado was without one of the their top players, G Alec Burks, in that first contest in Boulder. A huge effort will be needed from Burks today as Kansas will certainly try to make a point that they are a far superior team to what we saw in Boulder on February 3rd. The early line on today's game: KU by 21 points!
On Feb. 3, despite being cleared by the CU medical staff, Burks was held out of the lineup by coach Jeff Bzdelik to give his sprained left knee some extra time to heal. The Big 12`s top freshman scorer watched helplessly from the end of the bench as the Buffs lost a 72-66 nail-biter in overtime to the nation`s No. 1 team at the Coors Events Center. "You never know," Burks said when asked if the results would have been different had he played. "But I would have liked our chances." Burks will finally go from the ranks of innocent bystander to perhaps the key player to watch today as CU looks to end a 34-game Big 12 road losing streak and snap the nation`s longesthome-court winning streak with a rare victory over the mighty Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse (2 p.m., Altitude).
But some of the locals didn’t have Burks in their sights. Kansas, which plays host to Burks and the Buffaloes on Saturday, didn’t recruit him. And after attending a camp at Missouri, the Tigers told Burks they would not pursue him. Their loss. Burks, and not more heralded recruits such as the Jayhawks’ Xavier Henry or Texas’ Avery Bradley, leads the Big 12 in scoring among freshmen at 16.8 points per game. He hit his average again Wednesday with 17 points in the Buffaloes’ home victory over Oklahoma. His name is starting to pop up on projected drafts. NBAdraft.net has Burks listed as the fourth choice in the 2011 draft, and he seems to move up weekly.
Kansas University didn’t recruit Colorado freshman Alec Burks, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound freshman sensation from Grandview, Mo., who has emerged as one of the top first-year players in the country. "I know a lot of people made recruiting mistakes on him," KU coach Bill Self said. "He was a great get for Colorado because he’s really a nice player. He has a chance to be really good."
Scoring 17 points Wednesday night, CU’s Alec Burks moved into fourth place on the Buffs’ all-time freshman scoring list with 404 points. He joined a star-studded list: Richard Roby, 480 points in his 2004-05 freshman season; Chauncey Billups, 465 in 1995-96; and Donnie Boyce, 417 in 1991-92. Barring an injury, Burks has at least six games remaining, including a minimum of one game in the Big 12 Tournament. To break Roby’s record and reach 481 points, Burks will need to average just 12.83 points in those six games, well below his season average of 16.8 points.
"We're still using coach Bzdelik's system, but he has definitely tweaked it to (accommodate) the players he has now," Higgins said. "We're a bunch of talented guys that can score in a bunch of different ways. He lets us have some freedom within the offense. He wants us to be aggressive."
For the second consecutive season, the Rams will have a quarterback competition in the spring. Senior Jon Eastman, junior T.J. Borcky, redshirt freshman Nico Ranieri and incoming freshman Pete Thomas all will be competing. Thomas was one of the top recruits in the class and he’s the favorite to win the starting job. The Rams added a couple new coaches. Fairchild named Pat Meyer offensive coordinator and brought back Dan Hammerschmidt, who worked with the Rams in the 90s, to help with the passing game. Fairchild also will be intimately involved with all aspects of the offense. "It will be the same system," Fairchild said. "We’ll always tweak it and do some self analysis in the offseason, but I’m kind of the offensive coordinator anyway, I call the plays." The Rams do return 92 percent of their rushing yards and only lost two starters on defense. The biggest question will be the offensive line, for which Fairchild felt confident the Rams could find suitable replacements.
When the Jayhawks made the trek west to Boulder, Co. back on February 3rd, it was not supposed to result in a near-disastrous, overtime escape against the Buffaloes. It was supposed to be an easy game after a highly emotional previous week with games against rivals Missouri and Kansas State. But, what the Jayhawks found from the start was that the Buffs weren't going to just lay down and play dead. At first glance back at the boxscore from that night, it is hard to remember why Kansas struggled so much. Colorado shot terrible from the field (37.5 percent) and from three point range. (29.6 percent) Offensive rebounds were even (twelve a piece) and Kansas won the turnover battle. (eleven to twelve) So, how exactly did that near-disaster happen? Well, if memory serves me right, it was two big things: Xavier Henry was nearly a ghost, (three points on zero-of-four shooting in just seventeen minutes) and a combined nine-for-23 (39.1 percent) free throw shooting from the three bigs. Particularly, it was key free throws down the stretch that Kansas could not convert into points that gave the Buffs second, third and fourth lives. And, that is something that you just cannot do on the road. Luckily talent prevailed in overtime and the Jayhawks escaped with a 72-66 victory.
The CU men's basketball team (12-13, 3-8 Big 12) will attempt to halt top-ranked Kansas' (25-1, 11-0) 56-game home winning streak (longest in the nation), Saturday, Feb. 20, 2 p.m. (MST) on the Big 12 Network (Altitude Sports & Entertainment).