The Horns (10-3) open Big 12 play this afternoon against Colorado (4-6) at 3 PM CST. The game will be televised by ESPN+ (Channel 23 in Austin). While you never like to begin conference play on the road, starting in Boulder against the worst team in the conference with a lame duck coach and an apathetic student body who is away on semester break doesn't sound too daunting. The Horns are a perfect 8-0 under Coach Barnes in conference openers while the Buffaloes are an equally unimpressive 1-9 in conference openers.
In the last eight seasons under Coach Barnes, the Horns have posted a 41-23 mark on the road in the Big 12 which is good for second best. But Boulder has not been kind to the Horns. Texas is only 2-5 overall at Colorado. The Horns have lost their last two games in Boulder including a nine point loss in 2005.
The Buffaloes should be well rested after having two games canceled during the month of December due to bad weather. In fact, Colorado has only played one game since December 9th, a nine point home win over Central Florida. Overall their resume is awful. CU lost by 41 at New Mexico and by 38 to Air Force at home. They also have losses to Wyoming, UNC-Wilmington, Pepperdine, and Colorado State. The Buffs have lost six of their last eight and without a remarkable turn around do not appear headed for post-season play of any kind.
Ricardo Patton's club is led by 6'6" 205 lb. junior guard, Richard Roby. Roby toyed with the idea of turning pro after last season before deciding to return to college. He leads the team in points at 17.9 per game. The only other Buffalo averaging double figures in points is senior Dominique Coleman (6'3" 185) at 10.9 ppg.
Colorado is young and perimeter oriented just like Texas. Five freshman play over nine minutes per game including Xavier Silas (an Austin High School grad). Also like Texas, Colorado doesn't have a dominating post presence. Forward Jermyl Jackson-Wilson leads the team with just 7.7 rebounds per game.
Colorado By the Numbers
Nothing in their season stats should scare Texas. The Buffs allow opponents to shoot 46% from the floor while only shooting 40% themselves. Even though the Buffs are perimeter oriented, they shoot only 28% from behind the three point arc. Look for Texas to play a lot of 2-3 zone. Colorado also struggles on the boards (+0.1 in rebounding margin), has committed more turnovers than assists as a team, and averages only 70 points per game.
Prediction / Horns' Objectives
This is a game Texas should win easily. However, conference road games are tough regardless of the opponent. I still haven't seen the UT-Arlington game, but from what I've read we were not sharp for the second straight game after the disappointment at Tennessee. If the Horns are not sharp again, Kevin Durant gets in foul trouble, or Colorado remarkably puts it all together, then Texas could drop their conference opener. I don't see that happening though. Look for Texas to be more physical, to get Durant more involved on each and every offensive possession, and play solid zone defense in route to a 80-72 victory.
Join me for the open gameday thread at 3 PM CST.