January 7, 2009

CU closes out non-conference play with win

BOULDER, Colo. - Just what the doctor ordered.

After losing three straight games on the road, Colorado's men's basketball team returned home to play a Division-II opponent in Western State.

Led by sophomore guard Cory Higgins' 24 points, the Buffaloes defeated the Mountaineers in their non-conference finale, 65-52.

"We needed a 'W' just for our confidence," said Higgins, who also led the team with 10 rebounds.

The Buffs will enter Big 12 play with an 8-6 record.

"We're kind of all over the map, to be honest with you," said CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik. "There are signs that are very encouraging. There are things that are disappointing. But I've said all along that this is going to be a very challenging year because of our youth. That's what happens when you have young players, you are kind of all over the map, from moment to moment.

"It's about where we're headed. All these young players are getting a great amount of experience early on in their careers which will pay dividends in the future."

Expectations couldn't be lower for CU going into their conference opener against Missouri next Wednesday.

The Buffaloes will try to revel in the underdog role.

"We have been an underdog since I've been here," said junior guard Dwight Thorne, who scored eight points against Western State. "We are going to try to come out and just shock some people. [If we] play hard and leave it all out there every night, I think we can live with ourselves."

Additional Notes:

*** Higgins set a new Big 12 record for most consecutive free throws made on Monday at SMU. He extended the streak to 45 against Western State.

*** Sophomore forward Casey Crawford did not play in the first half of Wednesday night's game. Coach Bzdelik said he "wanted to look at" Toby Veal and Trey Eckloff instead. Crawford logged 10 minutes in the second half and he scored eight points.

*** CU's game against Missouri next Wednesday will tip off at 7:00 pm (MST) with television coverage on ESPNU. The Buffaloes have not won their conference opener since the 1996-97 season.

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