Preview: Texas at Colorado


Next Game

Texas Longhorns
@ Colorado Buffaloes

Saturday, Feb 14, 2009, 1:00 PM CST
Coors Events Center; Boulder, Colorado
Television: ESPN (Ron Franklin & Fran Fraschilla)
Radio: 98.1 FM / 1300 AM (Austin) XM Satellite Radio Ch. 231
Las Vegas Line: Texas -11
KenPom Data Prediction: Texas 67-57
Opponent Blog: Ralphie Report
Previews: TexasSports.com

Complete Coverage >




SEASON COMPARISON

Colorado Texas Colorado Texas
Overall Record 9-14 16-7 Offensive Efficiency (Rank) 100.6 (174) 109.0 (62)
Conference Record 1-8 5-4 Defensive Efficiency (Rank) 100.9 (175) 87.8 (10)
Home Record
8-5 10-2 Strength of Schedule Rank #92 #23
Away / Neutral Record 0-7 / 0-1 3-3 / 3-2 Quality Wins None UCLA
n-Villanova
at Wisconsin
at Baylor
Record Last 5 and 10 Games 1-4 / 2-8 2-3 / 5-5 Losses

Montana St
at Stanford
TCU
Buffalo
Vermont
SMU
at Texas Tech

n-Notre Dame
n-Michigan St
at Arkansas
at Oklahoma
Kansas St
Missouri
at Nebraska

Stakes and Keys to the Game after the jump.

The Texas Longhorns (16-7, 5-4) travel to Boulder this afternoon in search of their second straight win and their third conference road win of the year. A victory would also put the ‘Horns at 6-4 in the Big XII and a step closer to fourth place and an end-of-season conference tournament bye in Oklahoma City.

On paper this is a significant mismatch, but as we know after last Saturday’s disappointment in Lincoln, anything can happen on the road. The Buffaloes have lost 11 of their last 13 games and are last in the conference at just 1-8. Their mid-week game came at Iowa State where they put up just nine first half points and got blown out 70-42.

As you can see from Pomeroy’s statistics, Colorado is a below average team offensively and defensively. On offense, they are turnover prone, anemic on the offensive glass, and have struggled tremendously from behind-the-arc. Colorado is fairly efficient when shooting the ball from two-point range as well as from the free throw line. It will be important for the Longhorns to keep the CU guards out of the lane.

Defensively, Colorado is even worse. Their lack of size has allowed opponents to shoot over 51% from two-point range and over 36% from three. There are very few offenses in the country that could put up enough points to overcome those percentages. Creating turnovers is the one area on defense where the Buffs excel. If CU isn’t able to create extra possessions and score off their defense, it is hard to see a way the Buffaloes come out on top.

Keys to the Game:
(1) Don’t settle. On offense, Texas will have a size advantage at just about every position, even in our three guard lineup. As mentioned above, Colorado is horrible at defending the rim and the paint. I expect Colorado to try to slow the pace and limit the number of possessions in the game. Texas cannot settle for contested perimeter jumpers against smaller defenders, ala the Nebraska game. Get Dexter Pittman and Gary Johnson involved early and often.

(2) Control Cory Higgins. The 6-5 sophomore guard is the only Buffalo who should concern Texas fans. Higgins has scored in double figures in every conference game and in every Colorado game this season but one. He leads the team at 17.2 points per game and is an above average rebounder from his wing position. While Higgins can shoot the three-ball, he prefers to attack the rim and score off the drive or at the line. Justin Mason has struggled some this year when he has been asked to run the point and defend the opponent’s best perimeter player. With Dogus Balbay handling the ball more on offense, this is an ideal defensive assignment for Mason. If Mase successfully locks down Higgins, Colorado won’t be able to score enough to keep this one close.

(3) Protect the basketball. In our last game against Oklahoma State, newly inserted starting point guard Dogus Balbay helped lead Texas to their third lowest turnover percentage game of the season. On the road and while playing at a slower pace, protecting the basketball and getting a quality shot on every possession becomes even more important. For Colorado to pull of the upset, they’ll likely need a solid game from Higgins, a poor shooting performance from the Longhorns, and 15+ turnovers as well.

(4) Another solid game from Connor. Until Tuesday night, many fans would have sworn that fifth year senior Connor Atchley was not on the team this year. Atchley has more than struggled this season; he was just about invisible on the basketball court. The smooth three-point jumper that we’d seen in each of the last two years was gone; the ability to block shots from his help side defensive position was not as threatening; and his control of the defensive glass was missing as well. Connor cannot completely bounce back in just one game but a 14 point and four rebound performance in just 20 minutes was a step in the right direction. The Longhorns probably won’t need a breakout performance this afternoon to defeat CU, but a Connor with renewed confidence the rest of this season will make the Longhorns at tough out in both the Big XII and NCAA tournaments. Let’s shoot for two in a row, Connor.

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