The Colorado Buffaloes went to Kansas on Saturday to see where they stand against one of the top teams in the country. Although Colorado left with its first loss of the season the confidence is still there, as well as a top-25 ranking.
The Buffaloes fell four spots in the AP rankings to No. 24 on Monday, but a solid showing at Allen Fieldhouse kept them rated, and to stay there they'll need to keep winning. First up is hosting Northern Iowa on Tuesday night in Boulder, Colo.
The key for Colorado (7-1) is taking the lessons from its loss and building on those before the Pac-12 season starts. The Buffaloes forced 21 Kansas turnovers but hit just 30 percent of their field-goal attempts while struggling on offense for most of the night.
"We had a lot of good looks that didn't go in," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said after the game. "You have to make those shots. ... But I was really proud of our guys' fight and their toughness and competitiveness. But we couldn't make shots."
The Buffaloes' defense will get another test with the high-scoring Panthers coming to town. Northern Iowa (8-1) is averaging 76 points per game and is coming off a 110-51 win over Division III Luther College on Dec. 2. This will be just the second true road game of the season for the Panthers.
That's not to say Northern Iowa hasn't been tested. Its last game against a Division I team was a 78-72 win over South Carolina on Nov. 27 to take third place in the Cancun Challenge. The Panthers have played just one game since the Cancun Challenge, which has given the players the time get in some work.
"It's really important that we get back into our routines individually," UNI point guard AJ Green told reporters following the Luther game. "Just get back to getting in the gym, we'll work on a few things each person individually wants to get better at, and then have a few solid practices."
Green and his teammates will have to stop Colorado's top players to escape with a win in Boulder. The Buffaloes are led by junior guard Tyler Bey, who is averaging 12.9 points and 11.5 rebounds a game, both tops on the team. His backcourt mate, McKinley Wright IV, is averaging 11.9 points, and D'Shawn Schwartz is scoring 11.3 points per game.
Wright is the spark that keeps Colorado's offense going, but Boyle can go five deep on his bench, which is an advantage when teams are coming to play at altitude.
Green leads Northern Iowa at 14.4 points per game while guard Trae Berhow is averaging 13.9 points. The Panthers will need big games from those two as well as contributions from others to have success on this two-game road trip that finishes up at Grand Canyon on Thursday.
"When we take the floor against Colorado, that 40 minutes is going to be challenging, it's going to be hard, but it's going to be fun," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. "We're going to get some great stuff in those two games. It'll be good to add that to what we've done so far in terms of our experiences."
--Field Level Media