Game Notes: Missouri at Colorado
The Big 12 gets cracking with a fine game.
by Cub Buenning
While several of the “BCS” conferences are already a week or two deep in their conference play, the Big 12 finally got crackin’ this weekend. The Colorado Buffaloes, historically a conference doormat, hosted the high-flying, top ten ranked, Missouri Tigers for a Saturday matinee. The home team jumped to a big lead early and despite the furious pressure and attack of Missouri, held on for an impressive 89-76 win. If CU was without the services of its highly touted sophomore, Alec Burks, however, this game might have looked a lot different. The Missouri native (not recruited by Mizzou or Kansas) put forward one of the nation’s best individual offensive performances all year with an exquisite array of 3-pointers, contested jump shots and impressive reverse finishes. By game’s end the 6-6 guard had scored 36 to along with 8 rebounds (both career highs) and about a half-dozen “OOOOHHHS and AAAAHHHHS.”
–With an 11:30 a.m. local start, the student section is filling up much slower than the remainder of the Coors Event Center. Classes do not start up again until Monday morning, but I am sure that those are back on campus might still be shaking up the cobwebs from last night. We will monitor this as the game progresses.
–Two weeks ago, the fans at the Missouri/Illinois game were easily discernable with the 22K+ arena split down the middle with gold on one side and orange on the other. Today, with two “black and gold” teams, the amount of fans for each team is impossible to tell.
–The media seating should probably be changed to the NBA Scouts seating section, as there are far more scouts than writers in attendance. Portland, Detroit, Houston and Indiana were a few of the teams that were on hand to check out the talent. I was wondering if they were interested in any of the Missouri players, but many of them had pages open to CU’s Alec Burks, so, I guess that answers that question.
–My big question going in is whether Colorado will want to run with the Tigers and their 40-minutes of Hell attack. I have seen my “home team” far less than Mizzou this year, but it appears on stats alone (each average mid-80s/game) that the Buffs are up to run.
–Mizzou’s Ricardo Ratliffe gets some buckets early. This should be a mismatch (RR against any of CU’s bigs) that the Tigers take advantage of all day.
–There is a great energy to start the game, as both teams are active offensively and defensively. For CU, Burks gets a couple early looks and knocks down two quick 3-pointers. (Five minutes into the game, the home team holds a slight 16-15 game. (Yes, both teams are on pace to score 120 each.)
–Missouri has a bout of poor transition defense and allow CU to get to hole at will or drive and kick for open jumpers. This pattern leads to a quick 7-point burst and also leads Mizzou to briefly switch to a zone defense.
–I just witnessed Mizzou play two offensive possessions where they ran the shot-clock inside the 10-second mark. Not only did they fail to score on either, but I don’t think that has happened all season.
–Mizzou forward Lawrence Bowers seems to be the only Tiger interested in playing defense. He seems to get his hands on so many balls/shots. (he would finish with an impressive 8 blocks)
–The student section has doubled in size since the opening tip. I can only assume that hangovers abound.
–CU has a nine-point lead at the under eight minute timeout, largely due to the Mizzou not hitting their 3’s. Meanwhile, Burks just hit his third triple and already has 15 points. At this same point, I realize that MU’s counterpart Marcus Denmon has not yet scored.
–As if he was reading my timeout notes, Denmon proceeds to score nine straight points and the visitors grab a brief one-point advantage.
–CU has an intriguing young forward in 6-7 freshman, Andrew Roberson. Despite getting just 20 minutes a contest, the San Antonio-native is the team’s leading rebounder with 8 per game.
–Burks hits an array of driving reverses and challenged shots in the paint. He is jumping into passing lanes, knocking down open looks and twice when guarded by smaller opponents he displayed a jab-step, one-dribble pull-up. He finishes the half with 20 points (8-11 from the field), arguably the most impressive 20 minutes I have seen in the college game this season.
–On the heels of Burks play and some surprising inside work by Austin Dufault, the Buffs head to the locker room up 12, at 46-34. I have not seen Ricardo Ratliffe since those first few minutes.
–CU keeps bringing the attack to the Tigers and the Buffs are able to expand their lead to 18 during the second half’s opening minutes. I must remind the crazed CU fans around me that Mizzou is the one team in the country that can erase a 20-point lead in no time.
–Up by 15, I cringe as CU poorly executes a 3-on-1 and goes for a showboat alley-oop that bears no fruit. “CU cannot waste possessions against this team,” was muttered under my breath.
–Midway through the second half, things have tightened up a bit (thanks largely to the Mizzou pressure) and the home team clings to a 13-point advantage.
–CU continues to push the pace. Again, under my breath, “They might want to slow down a bit and value each possession.”
–Mizzou extends their pressure to trapping in the half-court. Not coincidentally, the lead has now shrunk to under 10 points.
–The game’s last five minutes were controlled by the Buffs as the Tigers were never able to climb any closer, due largely to Burks and the play of backcourt mate, senior Corey Higgins. Burks hit several end of the shot-clock back-breakers in the game’s final possessions to keep the visitors at bay.