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Preview/Open Game Day Thread: Colorado Buffaloes at Texas Longhorns

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Game #15: Colorado Buffaloes (9-5, 0-0) at No. 2 Texas Longhorns (14-0, 0-0)

12:45 pm * Frank Erwin Center (16,734) * Austin, TX

TV: Big 12 Network (tv affiliates) or ESPN Full Court * Radio: KVET (98.1 FM)



Ken Pomeroy Ratings: Texas #3; Colorado #124

Pomeroy Prediction: Texas 92-65

Texas hosts Colorado this afternoon in the Big XII opener for both teams. The Longhorns were picked to finish second in the league in most pre-season polls, while the Buffaloes were predicted to finish dead last. The Buffaloes are just 1-3 in true road games this season and enter 2010 having lost a Big 12-record 29 straight conference road games.

Last Season

These two teams hooked up twice last season, once in Boulder and once in the Big XII tournament. The Longhorns won both contests but neither was easy. Texas defeated Colorado 86-76 in mid-February and 67-56 in the first round of the post-season tournament.

Colorado This Season

The Buffaloes currently sit at 9-5 on the season. CU has won three of their last four and four of their last six games. Their best win of the season is probably a two point victory over Miami-Ohio earlier this week. The other eight wins have all come over opponents ranked above 200 in Pomeroy's ratings. Earlier in the season, Colorado traveled to Maui where they fell to Gonzaga and Arizona before defeating Chaminade to earn seventh place.

More after the jump...

CU Offense by Ken Pomeroy

The Buffaloes are an above average offensive team. CU shoots the ball really well-54% from two-point range, 37% from three-point range, and 78% from the line. These are good for 19th, 86th, and 5th best in country respectively. That's right, ‘Horns fans, we're about to see a team that can actually sink free throws. On the flipside, the Buffs are one of the poorest offensive rebounding teams in the country, as they grab only 26% of their misses. Expect that number to suffer even more against the Texas frontline. Last, Colorado earns nearly a quarter of their total points from the line. An easy Texas key to this afternoon's contest will be to play defense without fouling.

CU Defense by Ken Pomeroy

As promising as it is for Colorado fans to watch their team with the ball, it is probably equally disappointed to see the Buffs play defense. CU has trouble defending inside the arc, fouls so often that they've attempted just one more free throw that their opponents, and, just like on the other end of the floor, have trouble on the glass. The one thing the Buffs do well is create turnovers, including a very high number of steals.

Keys to the Game

1) Dominate the Glass: As mentioned above, CU is horrible on the glass on both ends. Damion James, Dexter Pittman, Alexis Wangmene, and Gary Johnson should be able to score 20+ second chance points and help limit CU to one look per possession.

2) Defend Cory Higgins: The 6-5 guard is the only Buffalo who should really concern Coach Barnes. Higgins is averaging a team-high 18.4 points per game, leads the team in steals, and is second in assists. He shoots the ball well from everywhere (49% floor, 40% from deep, and 86% FT) but gets most of his points from inside the arc and from the line. Higgins's size also presents a challenge for the Texas guards. Look for Coach Barnes to run different defenders at Higgins all game. I'd start with Justin Mason and then shuffle to Avery Bradley and Dogus Balbay and maybe even use the size of Gary Johnson or Damion James for a few minutes. The key will be to keep Higgins out of the lane and off the free throw stripe.

3) Protect the Ball: In addition to having James and/or Pittman fall into foul trouble, the only equalizer in a game like this one is turnovers. So far this season, the Texas guards have limited their turnovers, led by Dogus Balbay's 2.9-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton, and Jai Lucas have also been solid with the ball in their hands. The one ‘Horn who has struggled is J'Covan Brown. Whoever can protect the ball will earn the most minutes from Coach Barnes.

4) Remember Dexter: This is not surprising to anyone who has watched Texas play this season, but the Longhorns are at their best when the offense runs through Pittman. Sexy Dex is the most unguardable big man in college basketball, and it's not even close. Not only does Dexter shoot over 74% from the floor but when he touches the ball the sagging defense leads to open looks from three and driving angles for the Texas guards. Too often though, the Longhorns go long stretches without actively looking to feed the ball inside. To me, it's very simple: the more Dexter touches the ball, the more potent the Texas offense is.

TexasSports.com Preview

ESPN.com Preview

Austin American Statesman answers some pre-season questions


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Damion James 14 26.9 5.6 11.4 49.1 0.8 2.4 32.4 4.8 6.9 69.8 3.0 7.8 10.8 0.9 1.7 1.6 0.9 2.2 16.7
Dexter Pittman 14 19.9 5.9 8.0 74.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.7 4.9 55.9 3.6 3.6 7.1 0.6 1.6 0.4 2.3 2.4 14.6
J`Covan Brown 12 22.0 3.5 9.3 37.5 1.6 5.2 30.6 2.3 2.4 93.1 0.3 2.1 2.4 2.2 3.2 0.9 0.2 1.2 10.8
Avery Bradley 14 25.4 4.2 9.6 43.7 1.1 2.9 36.6 1.2 2.5 48.6 0.6 1.2 1.8 2.5 1.3 1.6 0.6 2.2 10.7
Jordan Hamilton 14 18.8 3.4 8.5 40.3 1.6 4.5 36.5 1.1 1.8 60.0 0.9 2.9 3.7 2.1 1.3 0.9 0.4 1.4 9.6
Varez Ward 4 25.0 2.3 6.0 37.5 0.5 2.8 18.2 3.8 5.5 68.2 1.0 2.5 3.5 2.8 2.8 2.3 0.0 1.8 8.8
Gary Johnson 14 18.1 2.9 4.7 60.6 0.1 0.1 100.0 1.7 2.2 77.4 1.1 2.9 4.1 0.6 1.0 0.6 0.6 1.1 7.5
Jai Lucas 5 14.4 2.6 3.6 72.2 1.8 2.6 69.2 0.2 0.6 33.3 0.0 0.6 0.6 2.0 1.0 0.0 0.2 1.2 7.2
Dogus Balbay 14 22.5 1.9 4.1 47.4 0.1 0.7 10.0 0.6 1.3 44.4 1.0 2.6 3.6 4.5 1.6 1.7 0.5 2.4 4.5
Alexis Wangmene 14 10.3 1.4 2.2 61.3 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4 0.7 60.0 0.9 1.4 2.3 0.2 0.5 0.1 0.7 2.1 3.1
Justin Mason 14 16.8 0.9 2.2 41.9 0.1 0.6 12.5 0.8 1.3 61.1 0.6 1.5 2.1 1.6 1.1 0.7 0.1 1.4 2.7
Clint Chapman 7 5.0 1.1 1.7 66.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.7 20.0 0.6 1.6 2.1 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 1.3 2.4
Andrew Dick 3 3.0 0.7 0.7 100.0 0.3 0.3 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7
Shawn Williams 7 5.6 0.6 1.3 44.4 0.1 0.7 20.0 0.3 0.7 40.0 0.3 1.4 1.7 0.7 0.3 0.0 0.0 1.3 1.6
Matt Hill 12 4.4 0.3 0.6 57.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.8 40.0 0.4 0.9 1.3 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.2 1.0
Dean Melchionni 3 2.7 0.0 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0