SALT LAKE CITY – Pac-12 Conference play is set to get underway for the Colorado women’s basketball team on Wednesday. The mid-week matchup against No. 13 Utah will be an appetizer of sorts, with the Buffaloes jumping back into non-conference play for a pair of games following the Utes.
Colorado (8-2) has been fantastic on the defensive end of the floor this season. The Buffs have not allowed an opponent to score more than 50 points in the last four games. Opposing offenses have averaged just 41.3 points over the last four games and CU has held teams to 53.4 points per game this season.
Utah (8-0) will threaten Colorado’s defensive streak, entering Wednesday as the top-scoring team in the NCAA with 94.4 points per game. The Utes tied a school record with 124 points earlier this season against then-No. 16 Oklahoma. Utah has posted three games of 100 or more this season.
“We haven’t seen a team this season with this type of firepower,” head coach JR Payne explained. “I think both teams like to play up-tempo and I think it’ll be a fast-paced game. It’s a big jump to go right into league [play] when you’re not really finished with your preseason. It will be a challenging jump.”
Wednesday will be the 41st meeting between the Utes and the Buffs. The series is even at 20 wins apiece. CU has won two of the last three games but the series is even across the last six meetings. Both teams are coming off of NCAA Tournament appearances last season. Utah returns four of its starters from a year ago and added Alissa Pili from Southern California, while the Buffs return just two starters from last season.
“Utah doesn’t have anyone making an impact this season who hasn’t played Pac-12 games before,” Payne added. “Everyone that plays has already experienced Pac-12 play. We have people that have not played a lot of minutes. Both teams are running the same things we’ve been running for years. There’s nothing new that they [Utah] are doing. They’re just really good at what they do. It’s going to be important to recognize that we know what it is and try not to overthink. We just need to play hard, know the coverage and do your job.”
The mid-week trip lands right in the middle of the university’s final exams. The Buffs have been juggling their preparations and their studies in the lead-up to Wednesday.
“I think our upperclassmen do a great job of making sure that we understand when there’s business to be taken care of,” Payne continued. “We’ve played more road games than we’ve ever played in the preseason, everyone’s tired and people are worried about finals. All that becomes pretty irrelevant when you have Utah on the schedule. We’ve got to be locked in and super focused.”
The season grinds on almost immediately after the Utah game. Colorado returns two days later to take on Alcorn State (3-4) on Friday. The Buffs are 2-0 all-time against the Braves. It will be the second time this season that the Buffs will travel to a different state and play on a day’s rest.
“I think the fatigue factor is important,” Payne noted. “Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about recovery and what’s important when you have a quick turnaround. It’s not ideal to have to play at Utah and have to come back and play right away, but everybody in the country is doing it. It’s not like we feel sorry for ourselves. We just need to make sure that we get home and get rest.”
Wednesday’s game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Krista Blunk and Angela Taylor will have the call.
Both games will be available on the Colorado Radio Network, the Varsity App and CUBuffs.com/Listen. Cory Lopez will have pregame coverage starting 30 minutes before tip.
Friday’s game (6 p.m.) at the CU Events Center will be streamed online at CUBuffs.com/WatchWBB. It will also be the Buffs’ Holiday Celebration fans in attendance will receive a CU cookie cutter.
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