Wednesday , Mar , 01 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Young Jayhawks host Buffaloes in crucial Big 12 matchup

(Sports Network) – The 18th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks put their six-game home
winning streak on the line tonight, when they host the Colorado Buffaloes
in Big 12 Conference action from Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. The Jayhawks
enter the game on a down note, as they were thwarted at nationally-ranked
Texas, 80-55, on Saturday. The loss not only snapped Kansas’s season-
high 10-game win streak, but it also dropped it one game back of the
Longhorns for first place in the Big 12 standings. Despite the setback,
the Jayhawks have played extremely well in the second half of the season,
posting wins in 17 of their last 20 games. The team stands at 20-7 overall and
with a win tonight it would post its 17th straight 21-win season. Reaching
that milestone is certainly not out of the question, especially when
considering Kansas has won its last six games at home and is 13-2 at Allen
Fieldhouse this season. Colorado was able to rebound from back-to-back road
losses with a 78-60 triumph over Missouri at home on Saturday. The win
improved the club to 18-7 overall and 8-6 in conference. The Buffaloes,
however, now take to the road where they have gone just 2-5 in league play
thus far. With regard to the all-time series, Kansas owns a 110-39 advantage
over Colorado, including wins in each of the past six meetings. In fact, the
Jayhawks have won 22 straight games against the Buffs at in Lawrence.

Colorado has had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard this season, averaging
a Big 12-best 79.5 ppg on 44.8 percent shooting from the field. Richard Roby
has been the team’s go-to guy for much of the year, and leads the Buffaloes in
scoring (17.8 ppg), rebounding (5.6 rpg) and steals (58). He is shooting 39.5
percent from long range and 74.8 percent at the foul line. Chris Copeland’s
play has meshed with that of Roby to give CU a solid duo, and he is turning in
12.3 ppg and 4.9 rpg while knocking down 38.7 percent his three-point
attempts. Roby posted 15 points, five rebounds and five steals in leading
Colorado to an 18-point win over Missouri on Saturday. Copeland added 12
points and eight rebounds for the Buffs, who shot 44.4 percent from the floor
in the game. The team also won the battle on the boards, 46-38, in addition to
outscoring Mizzou in the paint, 44-26.

Kansas has been simply sensational at the defensive end this season, and the
team currently leads the nation in field goal percentage defense (.368). The
Jayhawks are also holding their opponents to just 61.0 ppg, while they
themselves are averaging 75.7 ppg on 47.9 percent shooting from the floor.
Brandon Rush heads the club in both scoring (13.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.0
rpg), and he is hitting 50.0 percent of his shots from the field and 50.7
percent from long distance. Mario Chalmers ranks second with 10.7 ppg and 3.9
apg, and he is considered the club’s top defender with a league-best 73 steals
to his credit. The Jayhawks’ typically stingy defense was anything but in
their most recent outing, as they allowed Texas to shoot 55.1 percent from
the floor and make 10-of-20 three-pointers in a 25-point setback. Kansas was
also outscored at the foul line, 16-5, and dominated on the boards, 36-19.
Julian Wright paced the team in defeat with 18 points, while Chalmers had 10
points and five steals.

This is a big game for both clubs, as Colorado needs a win against a ranked
team badly, while Kansas needs to prove that its last loss was nothing more
than a fluke. It should be a battle throughout, but the Jayhawks, in front of
the home crowd and with a solid defensive effort, should find their way back
into the win column.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas 80, Colorado 68