Game Preview: CU, Tech hope to bust slumps

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Texas Tech was handed a devastating 22-point loss by Texas in their conference
home opener on Saturday. The loss dropped the Red Raiders to 10-7 on the season
and 0-2 in Big 12 play. Colorado visits Lubbock on Tuesday looking for their
first conference win as well after losses to Missouri and Kansas .
Colorado leads the overall series 16-11; the two teams have split the 12
meetings in Lubbock. Last meeting: Texas Tech 87-69 (February 20th, 2008,
Tech has won three consecutive games in the series with Colorado and
five of the last six meetings. The two teams have split the six matchups
played in Lubbock since the Big 12 began play in 1996-97.
Sophomore forward
D'Walyn Roberts has seven double-figure scoring
efforts this season after having just one a year ago. He has 123 points,
more than double his output from all of 2007-08 (55 points).
During their current three-game losing streak, Texas Tech has given up
an average of 76.3 points per game.
Sophomore guard
Cory Higgins led the Buffaloes with 20 points against
Kansas. He has scored in double figures in all but one game this season,
including 20 points or more six times.
Higgins was 12-of-12 from the free throw line versus KU. He has made
71-of-74 (.959) from the charity stripe over the last 11 outings and has 102
free throws made in 2008-09, more than any Big 12 player.
Freshman forward
Austin Dufault has scored in double digits nine times
this year. He has grabbed at least five rebounds in four consecutive
CU is shooting 82.4-percent (108-of-131) from the free throw line over
the past seven games. Eight of 11 players who have gone to the stripe during
that time are hitting at 75-percent or better.
After back to back thirteen point games, shooting guard Nick Okorie struggled
from the floor in the disappointing loss to Texas. The streaky junior was just
2-of-8 shooting and missed all three of his three point attempts. With Tech
struggling to score for long stretches against the Longhorns, it is critical
that Okorie step his offensive game up in order for the Red Raiders to secure
their first conference victory.
Against Baylor it was evident how much better the Red Raiders are when Okorie is
playing well. He went 6 for 11 on field goals and was arguably Tech's best
player. Bringing that effort every night will be critical as the season goes on
especially with the loss of Tyree Graham. Okorie will now be counted on to
handle the ball more as well as occasionally run the offense. Effectively
creating shots for himself as well as others is an area of his game on which Okorie must improve
to make Pat Knight's offense run at its optimal level.
Colorado travels to Lubbock for a matchup between two teams looking for their
first victory. The Buffs come to town as a youthful bunch that has been
inconsistent for most of the season. Losses to Montana State, Vermont, and
Buffalo have been the low points for the Buffs season. A 75-56 win over Colorado
State is the lone decent win for a team that has failed to win a ball game
against a team from one of the big six conferences.
Against opponents in common with the Red Raiders, Colorado is 0-2 with losses to
Stanford and TCU. The Horned Frogs were able to limit the Buffs to just 46
points, Tech was able to put 80 on the Frogs. Against Stanford however, the
performance was much better as they lost by 14 in a game that was much closer
than the final score indicated. The Red Raiders on the other hand were run out
of the gym by Stanford in a 45 point throttling.
Recently, the Colorado struggles have come on the defensive end. Against
Missouri in the conference opener, the Buffs were scorched for a season high 107
points. They followed that performance up by giving up 73 points against Kansas.
Both totals were above their season average which has risen to 66.9 points per
From a personnel standpoint, Colorado is severely limited on the offensive end.
With only one player averaging over 12 points, the Buffaloes are ranked 11th in
scoring offense in the Big 12 at 66.9 points per game. The offensive
difficulties have led to Colorado being the only Big 12 team with a negative
scoring margin (-.1).
Their number one weapon on offense is
Cory Higgins (17.6 ppg). He is a 6-5 guard
that also does a solid job of crashing the boards and pulling six boards per game.
The number two option is
Arlington (TX) Martin product
Dwight Thorne. Thorne is a
steady shooter that rarely forces shots. On the season, he is averaging 11.8
points per game on 53-percent shooting. Pressure defense can get to the guard duo as
they are combining to average five turnovers per game while only averaging 4.6
In the post, Austin Dufault is having a solid freshman year, averaging 9.4
points per game. His shooting has been a bit shaky lately as he has gone just 14
for his last 39. His rebounding has been improving over the course of the
season, and he has 5 or more boards in each of the last 4 outings. His
performance against fellow freshman
Robert Lewandowski will be a key matchup
that both coaches will keep a close eye on.
1. Knock down open shots. Tech struggled mightily from the floor
against UT shooting a season low 34-percent. Alan Voskuil and John Roberson have to hit
their open jumpers to keep teams from being able to double Mike Singletary and
Robert Lewandowski in the post.
2. Trevor Cook. The Red Raiders desperately need another scoring
option to step up and contribute consistently on the offensive end.
Trevor Cook
has proven he can provide a scoring punch given the opportunity but has been
hampered by a back injury for most of the season. His low post defense is also
steady as he can come from the weak side to block shots.
3. Play with heart. Texas Tech must come out and play with energy and
desire if they hope to record the first conference win. Coming out flat is a
very real possibility after the disappointing blowout in their last game. This
must be avoided because while Colorado is the Big 12's worst team, they will
approach this game as their best chance to steal a Big 12 road game.
The starters
Guard - Nate Tomlinson - 6-2 freshman
Guard - Corey Higgins - 6-5 sophomore
Guard - Dwight Thorne - 6-2 junior
Forward - J.Jackson-Wilson - 6-6 senior
Forward/center - Austin Dufault - 6-8 freshman
The reserves
Guard - Levin Knutson - 6-4 sophomore
Forward - Trey Eckloff - 6-9 freshman
Forward - Casey Crawford - 6-9 sophomore