Last year, Texas opened Big 12 play with an impressive win over Colorado. The Longhorns didn’t look nearly as prepared in this season’s conference opener.
After suffering a letdown, No. 19 Texas looks to put together another dominant performance against the Buffaloes when the teams meet Saturday night.
Texas kicked off its Big 12 schedule last season with a 102-78 win over Colorado in what was one of its best offensive performances of 2006-07.
In this season’s Big 12 opener, though, the Longhorns (13-3, 0-1) couldn’t keep up with Missouri’s offense in a 97-84 loss last Saturday. It was the worst defensive game of the season for Texas, which lost to the Tigers for the first time in 10 matchups dating to 1999.
The Longhorns were uncharacteristically lackadaisical on defense, matching season lows with three blocks and one steal while allowing Missouri to shoot 56.1 percent from the field. Texas is holding opponents to 65.3 points per game on the season, but has surrendered an average of 80.7 in its three losses.
“If you come out flat in a big conference game, or any conference game, you’re going to get beat,” Longhorns guard A.J. Abrams said.
Abrams had 21 points, but finished 3-of-11 from 3-point range. The junior guard, second on the team with 18.5 points per game, had 15 points in last season’s matchup with the Buffaloes.
D.J. Augustin matched Abrams’ 15 points in that game, but went 6-for-16 from the field and made just two of his seven free throws versus Missouri. Augustin, the preseason choice as Big 12 player of the year, leads Texas with 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per contest.
The Longhorns’ bench was of little help against the Tigers, getting outscored 38-10. Texas’ reserves have combined to average 4.5 points in the last six games.
Colorado (9-7, 1-1) hasn’t gotten much production from its bench, either, and coach Jeff Bzdelik has been making an effort to keep his starters fresh.
“I have cut practice short to help save their legs. I make ice baths mandatory, even though they did not like it at first,” he said. “I think that they are starting to see the benefits of taking care of their bodies. They are also seeing how to practice more efficiently. We are not very deep, but it is what it is. I have to be smart about that.”
The Buffaloes got all but 10 of their points from their starters in a 55-51 win over Nebraska on Tuesday night. Colorado was able to bounce back after losing its Big 12 opener 86-69 to then-No. 11 Texas A&M last Saturday.
Richard Roby had 30 points in last year’s game against Texas and leads the Buffaloes this season with 16.2 points per game, but freshman Cory Higgins has led the team in each of its two Big 12 contests. Higgins had 13 points Tuesday after a 15-point effort against the Aggies.
“Everything is turned up to a different level,” Higgins said of conference play. “I’m getting to the point where I can compete every night.”
Texas leads the all-time series with Colorado 10-8, including four straight wins at home.