THE GAME: No. 25 (AP) ranked University of Colorado will host Utah Valley University on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 1:30 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.
BROADCAST: Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on KKZN AM 760. Mike Rice will have the play-by-play with Carol Callan of USA Basketball providing the color commentary. A live video stream will be available on the Pac-12 Digital platform at Pac-12.com. All CU women’s basketball home games, and select road Pac-12 games, that are not televised will be available through Pac-12.com at this link: http://pac-12.com/live/cubuffs.aspx. The live stream is free to the public and not tied to a Pac-12 Network carrier.
OPENING TIP: Colorado will be looking for the 700th win in program history.
ABOUT THE BUFFALOES: Colorado is off to a 9-0 start for the fourth time in team history, and a second straight year after defeating No. 8 (AP & WBCA) Louisville, 70-66, on Dec. 14. The win vaulted the Buffaloes into the No. 25 spot in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll, the team’s first appearance since Jan. 14, 2008.
The Buffaloes have been especially good in the nonconference schedule under head coach Linda Lappe. Colorado has won its last 22 nonconference regular season contests and 29 of 33 dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Colorado’s offense has played well, averaging 72 points per game and three times hitting at least 75. The Buffaloes are shooting 43 percent from the field, and 48 percent inside the 3-point arc. Colorado has shared the ball well averaging 14.4 assists per game, and it has come from a multitude of players. Seven Buffaloes are already in double-figures for assists through nine games. Colorado also has held a sizeable advantage in rebounds (+14.3 rpg), and ranked eighth in NCAA Division I through games of Dec. 16.
Defensively, the Buffaloes are holding teams to 57 points per game on 35 percent from the field. Colorado ranks in the top five of the Pac-12 in 14 of 21 statistical categories, including first in offensive rebound percentage (.479), second in offensive rebounds (18.1 orpg) and rebound margin and third in scoring offense and rebounding defense (30.8 rpg).
Redshirt freshman forward Arielle Roberson leads Colorado and ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in scoring at 16.1 points per game. A three-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, Roberson scored a career and team-season high 25 points in the win at Illinois, hitting 7-of-8 from the field and a team-season best 10 free-throws made on 14 attempts. She also ranks second in rebounding (6.2 rpg) and is third in field-goal percentage (.536). Along with her scoring success, Roberson ranks ninth in offensive rebounds (3.2 orpg), 10th in field-goal percentage and 18th in overall rebounding on the Pac-12 leaderboard.
All-Pac-12 guard Chucky Jeffery leads the team in assists (4.0 apg), rebounds (8.1 rpg) and steals (2.5 spg), while ranking second in scoring (12.4 ppg). Jeffery ranks fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), fifth in steals and assists, eighth in free-throw percentage (.808), ninth in defensive rebounds (5.8 drpg) and overall rebounding, 14th in offensive rebounds (2.4 orpg) and 16th in scoring on the Pac-12 charts.
Junior guard Brittany Wilson has started all nine games and ranks second on the team in steals (1.8 spg) and assists (2.6 apg) while coming in at fourth in scoring at 9.7 points per contest. She has led Colorado in scoring over the last three games (14.3 ppg), including a season-high 19 points at Denver. Over that same span she has shot 47 percent from the floor (15-of-32), including 7-of-16 from 3-point range (.438). Wilson ranks second in the Pac-12 in free-throw shooting at 91 percent. She made her first 19 attempts of he season before missing her last two. She also ranks 10th in 3-point percentage (.353), 12th in 3-pointers made (1.3 3mpg) and 14th in steals on the Pac-12 leaderboard.
Sophomore forward Jen Reese has made a successful return from an eye injury that kept her out of the final nine games of 2011-12. She is third on the team in scoring (9.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg) while hitting 49 percent from the field and 84 percent from the free-throw line. She matched a career-high with 15 points in the win at Illinois and is averaging 11.3 points over the last six contests. Reese scored in double-figures in four straight games prior to the Denver contest, the best stretch of her career. On the Pac-12 charts Reese is 14th in field-goal percentage, 15in offensive rebounding (2.3 orpg), 19th in overall rebounding and 30th in scoring.
Junior center Rachel Hargis joins Wilson as the only Buffs to start all nine games. A career 33 percent shooter entering the season, Hargis has made the most of her opportunity hitting 54 percent (22-of-41) through nine games. She also has 14 assists on the year, tied for fourth on the team, after registering just 17 in 35 games as a sophomore. Hargis had a career- and team-season high seven blocked shots against Louisville, just one off the school single-game record.
Colorado has seven players averaging between four and 12 points per game. The Buffaloes are enjoying their best depth in the Lappe era. Thirteen different CU players have already hit the hardwood, with 12 of them having registered points.
ABOUT THE WOLVERINES: Utah Valley is 4-9 overall and has won two straight and three of its last five. This will be the eighth road game of the season for the Wolverines. UVU picked up its first road win on Dec. 15, a 62-44 decision at Northern Arizona. The Wolverines are averaging 65 points per game while shooting just under 40 percent from the field. Utah Valley is allowing just under 70 points per contest. The Wolverines are being outrebounded by four boards per game. Utah Valley is favored to win the Great West Conference, its final year in the league as the school plans to move to the Western Athletic Conference on July 1, 2013.
Senior forward Sammie Jensen leads Utah Valley at 17.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. The 2012 Great West Conference Player of the Year, Jensen shoots 42 percent from the field and 79 percent from the foul line. Junior guard Whitney Jenkins is second on the team in scoring at 8.4 points and leads the Wolverines in steals with 2.0 per game. Senior forward Kaycee Mansfield is third in scoring at 8.3 points while grabbing 6.4 rebounds an outing. Senior guard Alle Cardwell has a team-best 48 assists.
Cathy Nixon is in her 18th season as head coach at Utah Valley with an overall record of 301-226. She has led the Wolverines to a 111-153 record since the school joined the NCAA Division I ranks in 2003-04.
THE SERIES: This will be the first meeting between Colorado and Utah Valley. The Buffaloes won their only other meeting with a Great West team, a 67-49 win over Texas-Pan American last year.
Linda Lappe has never faced Utah Valley as a head coach. Cathy Nixon has never faced Colorado as a head coach.
NATIONALLY RANKED: Fresh off its first top-10 victory in more than 10 years, CU debuted at No. 25 in the Associated Press Women’s Basketball Top 25 poll, released Monday.
Colorado received 99 votes to make its first appearance in the AP poll since a similar No. 25 ranking on Jan. 14, 2008. The Buffaloes are 9-0 after defeating then-No. 8 ranked Louisville 70-66 on Dec. 14. CU’s last win over a top-10 opponent was a 62-59 win over No. 5 Stanford in the 2002 NCAA Sweet 16.
The Buffaloes have a long history of rankings in the AP poll, dating back to the 1980-81 season. This week’s ranking marks the 159th time Colorado has appeared in the AP poll, trailing only Stanford, USC and UCLA among Pac-12 Conference schools. CU had received one vote in last week’s AP poll.
Colorado received 13 votes in the USA Today Sports Coaches poll released on Tuesday. The Buffaloes haven’t been ranked in that poll since April 2004. CU received votes from the coaches poll during the squad’s four-week AP run in 2007-08, but never reached the top 25.