Senior guard Cory Higgins wants to prove to Buffs fans everywhere that his team hasn’t lost its swagger.
After starting the season with three straight conference wins, the Colorado men’s basketball team (14-6, 3-2 Big 12) fell to Nebraska and Oklahoma last week on the road. Tuesday night, in an arena filled to the brim with Buff fans dressed in black, the CU men look to redeem themselves against the No.6 Kansas Jayhawks (18-1, 3-1 Big 12).
For Higgins, Tuesday’s game is his last chance to take down Kansas at home.
“We have to get back on track and prove to everybody that we’re still here,” Higgins said. “[Those early wins] weren’t a fluke.”
The energy in Monday afternoon’s huddle after practice was one of excitement and intensity. Sophomore guard Alec Burks, the team’s leading scorer and the second highest scorer in the Big 12, said he feels no nerves about the upcoming game.
“There’s no pressure at all,” Burks said. “I just play the game of basketball.”
In last year’s game against Kansas at the Coors Events Center, the Buffs fell 72-66 in overtime. In the history of the match-up in Big 12 play, Kansas posts a 13-1 record in Boulder. Tuesday night will be the final conference match-up between the two teams, as Colorado heads to the Pac-10 conference next season.
While the Buffs started their season strong with conference wins against Missouri, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, they lost momentum against Nebraska and Oklahoma last week. Head Coach Tad Boyle said he is serious about getting past those losses before Tuesday’s game.
“Oklahoma was not an experience we’re particularly proud of,” Boyle said. “We want to get that taste out of our mouths.”
The Jayhawks are seeking redemption also, as they dropped from No. 2 to No. 6 last week after losing to the Texas Longhorns, 74-63 at home. The loss snapped the Jayhawk’s 69-game home winning streak.
Boyle, who played for Kansas from 1981-1985, including one year as team captain, knows what the Buffs will have to work on against a powerhouse like KU.
“We need to guard the paint,” Boyle said. “They’re really good inside.”
Although Kansas is Boyle’s alma mater, he said he has no conflicting loyalties surrounding Tuesday’s game.
“It’s my alma mater, but I’m a Buffalo,” Boyle said. “The thing that makes KU special is obviously its history and tradition. We’re trying to get Colorado on that national scale.”
Burks said his team needs to work on rebounding and defense, two areas in which they struggled against Nebraska and Oklahoma, but that they will also draw on their strengths to take down KU.
“We’re tough, we can grind out a game if we have to,” Burks said. “We never give up, and I like that about our team.”
The Buffs look forward to playing at home after several games on the road, but Boyle is cautious about how the intensity of the crowd will affect his team.
“This is not one of those games that I’m going to have to get my guys hyped up for,” Boyle said. “But [we may have to] keep them focused and bring their emotions down a little bit. They can get too hyped.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.email@example.com.