Colorado guards Alec Burks and Cory Higgins lived up to the hype in Kansas University’s narrow 82-78 victory over the Buffs on Jan. 25 at Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo.
Burks, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Grandview, Mo., scored 25 points off 7-of-14 shooting (10-of-11 from line), while Higgins, a 6-5 senior from Danville, Calif., added 19 points off 8-of-15 shooting with three steals.
“It’s a great challenge. They are two of the best scorers in our league,” KU coach Bill Self said. Burks averages 19.5 points a game, second-best mark in the Big 12 and Higgins 16.3 ppg (eighth best).
“Certainly our perimeter defenders have to do a better job than Monday (in 84-68 loss at Kansas State). They are really good offensively,” Self added of CU. “The whole thing with them is guarding, eliminating transition and doing a good job obviously on Burks and Higgins. They’ve got more players than that, but they are the two highest-scoring guys on the same team in our league.
“(Last time) they (Buffs) spread it and drove it. They’ll probably do that again.”
Self admits KU and a lot of schools “dropped the ball” in failing to try to recruit Burks his senior year at Grandview High.
“I saw him play in the state finals in Missouri watching another kid play. I said, ‘Who is that kid?’’’ Self said of Burks. “Somebody said he already signed with Colorado.
“I said, ‘That’s a good sign.’ I didn’t have any idea of the caliber of sign it turned out to be. What he’s done is pretty remarkable. He’s really good. He’s a great pro prospect.”
Higgins leads the conference in free throw percentage at 90.4 percent.
“I love it,” Higgins said of Allen Fieldhouse. “Any time you’re in a packed house, you love playing there. You can’t beat the tradition they have there. It feels pretty special playing there every time.”
CU at a glance: CU, which suffered four straight losing seasons prior to the arrival of coach Tad Boyle, is 16-10 overall and 5-6 in the league. The Buffs have dropped 16 straight to KU, 27 in a row in Lawrence.
“It would be huge to beat them for the first time in my career and to beat them on their homecourt would be something you would remember for a while, that’s for sure,” junior forward Austin Dufault told the Boulder Daily Camera. “We’ve played well in that building before (KU won, 66-61, two years ago). We have a lot of confidence. We match up well with them and we feel we had opportunities to beat them here (CU fell by four points to KU this year and 72-66 in overtime last season in Boulder).”
“I was there last year on the bench. It was crazy,” red-shirt freshman guard Shannon Sharpe told the Daily Camera. “I’m excited. We’re coming off a win. They’re coming off a loss, and it should be a heck of a battle.”
Tomlinson update: CU guard Nate Tomlinson, who has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury, practiced some this week, according to CUBuffs.com.
“It (absence) affects us in terms of he is the guy who can set others up,” Boyle said. “He can create. He helps get Cory and Alec shots. He’s probably our best post feeder as well. Not having Nate in the lineup stymies us a little bit offensively.
In the house: Former KU players Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat), Sherron Collins (Charlotte Bobcats) and Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) are expected to attend today’s game.
It’s NBA All-Star break weekend.