(Sports Network) - The fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns will attempt to maintain their lead atop the Big 12 standings, when they travel to Boulder for a showdown with the Colorado Buffaloes this afternoon.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns put some distance between themselves and last weekend's loss at Nebraska with a 76-53 pounding of Iowa State on Tuesday. The victory pushed the team to 12-1 in-conference and kept it one game ahead of Kansas with three games to play.
The Buffaloes may be a game under .500 in league play this year (6-7), but by no means should CU be taken lightly. This is an extremely talented squad that boasts an impressive 13-2 record in Boulder this season. The team is coming off a solid road win at Texas Tech on Wednesday (71-68), its second win in the last three games.
Texas holds a 14-8 series advantage thanks to wins in each of the last six meetings and is 13-3 against Colorado under Barnes.
Defensive pressure is the name of the game in Austin and few teams are doing a better job than Texas right now. The Longhorns have held their 13 league foes this season to a mere 55.7 ppg and well under 40 percent shooting (.369). Overall the numbers still rival the best in the country, yielding just 59.6 ppg. In addition, UT owns a +6.7 rebounding margin and a +15.8 scoring margin. A physical team, Texas relies heavily on its starting frontcourt. It begins with sophomore sensation Jordan Hamilton, who leads the team in both scoring (18.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). Freshman forward Tristan Thompson (12.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is another exciting youngster, while senior forward Gary Johnson (11.9 ppg. 6.9 rpg) provides a veteran presence. Freshman guard Cory Joseph (10.8 ppg) and sophomore guard J'Covan Brown (9.1 ppg) provide further offensive depth. It was another dominating performance by the big guys for Texas this week, as they held Iowa State to a season-low 53 points. Hamilton led the way with 20 points and eight rebounds. Thompson and Johnson both recorded double-doubles, as Thompson finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds and Johnson tallied 14 points and 12 caroms.
The Buffaloes took a 12-point lead into halftime and survived a 21-5 run by the Red Raiders early in the second stanza to earn a hard-fought road win in Lubbock this week. Levi Knutson came off the bench to lead the way with 18 points. Marcus Relphorde, Alec Burks and Cory Higgins rounded out the top scorers with 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively. Burks leads a guard-driven Colorado squad, as he gets involved in all aspects of the game, leading the team in scoring (19.2 ppg) and assists (69), while ranking second in rebounding (6.1 rpg). Higgins can also fill up the basket at 16.0 ppg, with Knudson (11.6 ppg) and Relphorde (11.4 ppg) adding additional firepower to a team that is netting a solid 79.0 ppg this season.
The Buffaloes are a dangerous team, especially at home. However, they lack the overall size to negate Texas' frontcourt stars and with the way that the Longhorns are playing defense, expect them to pick up another conference win.