THE GAMES: The University of Colorado hosts the 27th Annual Omni Hotels Classic on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Coors Events Center. Here is the tournament schedule:
Friday, Nov. 29
Rice vs. Samford, 5 p.m.
South Alabama at Colorado, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 30
Consolation (Friday's Losers), 5 p.m.
Championship (Friday's Winners), 7:30 p.m.
BROADCAST: Colorado's games will air live on KKZN AM 760. Mike Rice will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by Carol Callan of USA Basketball with the color commentary. A free live video stream of Colorado's games will be available through Colorado's Pac-12.com video player. All CU women's basketball home games that are not televised will be available through Pac-12.com at this link:
Non-televised Pac-12 road games are scheduled to be available on the opponents' video player, free of charge.
OPENING TIP: Colorado is averaging 86.0 points on 48.2 percent from the field (81-of-168) and 77 percent from the line (72-of-93) over the last three games.
ABOUT THE BUFFALOES: No. 14 (AP)/19 (USAT) Colorado improved to 4-0 overall with an 85-53 win at New Mexico on Nov. 23. The Buffaloes have started 4-0 or better the last three seasons, in fact are in the midst of a 28-game winning streak in regular season nonconference games.
Colorado is averaging 80.3 points per game while hitting 46 percent from the field and a Pac-12 Conference-best 75 percent from the foul line. The Buffaloes are distributing the ball well, averaging 18.5 assists per outing, ranking second among league counterparts in the early portion of the season.
Colorado has six players averaging between 9.5 and 11.3 points per game and nine pitching in at least five a contest.
The Buffaloes' defense has limited opposing offenses to 58 points despite giving up 87 to Iowa which snapped a 34-game string of allowing less than 70. Colorado is holding opponents to 35.5 percent shooting from the field, including a frigid 18 percent from beyond the arc, a number that leads the Pac-12 and ranks fifth in the nation (through Nov. 24). Colorado has enjoyed a plus-11 rebound advantage and is forcing nearly 17 turnovers per game.
Junior forward Jen Reese is the leader among five Buffaloes averaging double-digits at 11.3 per game. She had a season-high 18 points on 7-of-10 from the field in the win over New Mexico, tying a career-high for field goals made and recording the second-highest scoring output of her career (22 at Arizona State on Feb. 17, 2013). She is hitting 50 percent from the floor (17-of-34) and 90 percent from the foul line. On the Pac-12 leaderboard she ranks second in free-throw percentage and 22nd in scoring.
Junior guard Jasmine Sborov has sprinted out to a great start averaging 11.0 points on 58 percent shooting (15-of-26). She has scored in double-digits in all four games, including a career-high 13 points in the season opening win over Colorado State. She came into this season with just three double-figure scoring games over the first 62 games of her career. Sborov currently ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage and is sixth in free-throw percentage (.846) and 24th in overall scoring.
Junior guard Lexy Kresl has been running a solid point for the Buffaloes averaging 9.5 points and 4.0 assists per game. She had a career-best five assists in the win at New Mexico and her 16 assists in the first four games are more than half way to her 2012-13 season total of 30. She logged a career-best nine rebounds in the win over Colorado State, and against Alcorn State she became the 11th player in team history to reach 100 career 3-point field-goals made. Kresl ranks sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3) and free-throw percentage (.846) and seventh in assists on the Pac-12 charts.
Senior guard Brittany Wilson is third on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game and second with 11 assists. She had a career- and team-season high 26 points in the win over Iowa. It was the fifth 20-point game in Wilson's career as she also set personal bests from the line hitting on 10-of-14 from the charity stripe. She made her first start of the season against Iowa, after coming off the bench in the previous two games.
Reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Arielle Roberson leads Colorado in rebounding at 7.3 per game while pitching in 10.7 points per contest. She dished out a career-best and team season-high six assists in the win over Iowa to go along with 17 points and nine rebounds. Roberson missed the game at New Mexico after suffering a concussion in the Iowa game, and remains day-to-day for the Omni Classic. She ranks sixith in defensive rebounds (6.0 drpg), 11th in blocks (1.0 bpg) and 15th in overall rebounding on the Pac-12 charts.
Freshman guard Lauren Huggins has provided a nice scoring punch off the bench. Huggins is shooting a scorching 50 percent from downtown, hitting 13 of her first 26 to start the season. She is second in the Pac-12 in 3-pointers made per game and third in percentage.
Senior center Rachel Hargis is third on the team in rebounding at 4.3 per game while pitching in 3.5 points per game on 40 percent shooting (4-of-19). Freshman forward Zoe Beard-Fails is off to a nice collegiate start, providing depth to the front court. Beard-Fails is averaging 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds, hitting 7 of her first 11 shots (.636). Senior guard Ashley Wilson continues to provide a steady presence averaging 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
ABOUT THE JAGUARS: South Alabama, out of the Sun Belt Conference, will be looking for its first win of the season, coming to Boulder at 0-4 overall. The Jaguars are coming off a 54-51 setback at home to Houston Baptist on Nov. 25. On the offensive side the Jaguars average just under 55 points per game on 38 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free-throw line. They give up 67 points per game and allow 44 percent shooting. South Alabama has struggled holding onto the ball, averaging 23.5 turnovers per game and enters the Omni Classic with a minus-8 turnover margin.
Senior guard Meghan Dunn leads South Alabama at 13.5 points and 3.0 assists per game. She has connected on 50 percent of her 3-point attempts (9-of-18) and overall shoots 43 percent from the floor. Senior forward Ronneka Robertson tops the Jaguars in rebounding at 8.3 per game while pitching in 8.8 points an outing. Sophomore guard Rachel Cumbo averages 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest.
Terry Fowler is in his first season as head coach at South Alabama after seven years at North Alabama and six at Spring Hill College. He is 206-181 overall in his 14th season as a collegiate head coach.
ABOUT THE OWLS: Rice is 3-4 overall coming off a 79-74 overtime loss to Sam Houston State on Nov. 26. The Owls are 1-3 on the road, but have faced stiff competition, including nationally ranked Baylor, a 79-46 loss on Nov. 18, and Michigan State, an 81-68 loss on Nov. 23. Rice is averaging 65.3 points on 39 percent shooting. The Owls are a solid rebounding team, grabbing 44 boards per game, including nearly 16 per contest on the offensive end.
Rice is led by three-time first team All-Conference USA forward Jessica Kuster averaging 20.6 points and 15.0 rebounds per game. The 2013 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Kuster also tops the Owls in steals (2.4 spg) and is a 78 percent free-throw shooter. Junior guard Reem Moussa is second on the team in scoring at 7.7 points per game while leading the Owls in assists at 4.6 per contest. Junior forward Christal Porter averages 7.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Greg Williams is in his ninth season at Rice with a record of 122-136. Overall he is in his 21st season as a college women's head coach sporting a mark of 323-275.
ABOUT THE BULLDOGS: Samford is 1-3 overall, having dropped three straight after a season-opening win at Memphis, 62-60, on Nov. 10. The Bulldogs, out of the Southern Conference, will be playing their fourth and fifth games away from home this weekend, having enjoyed a home-court advantage just once this season. Samford averages 51.2 points per game, hitting 33 percent from the field and 67 percent from the line. The Bullodogs are giving up 64 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent.
Freshman guard Hannah Nichols leads Samford in scoring at 9.8 points per game. She has been the Bulldogs' top threat from 3-point range, hitting on 44 percent (10-of-23). Sophomore guard Krista Stricklin averages 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. Freshman forward Ellen Riggins tops the Bulldogs in rebounding at 5.0 per game while pitching in 8.8 points an outing.
Mike Morris is in his 12th year as Samford's head coach with a record of 198-137.
THE SERIES: This will be Colorado's first meeting with South Alabama and would its first contest against Samford should those two meet on Saturday. Colorado is 3-0 all-time against Rice. All three meetings have been in Boulder, two of which have come in the Omni (formerly Coors) Classic. The Buffaloes defeated the Owls 53-49 in the 1997 Coors Classic championship game and 72-55 in the 2007 Coors Classic consolation match.
Colorado is 4-1 against teams that currently make up the Sun Belt Conference. The Buffaloes have only played one other Southern Conference opponent, a 62-50 win over Georgia Southern in the 2009 Omni Classic. The Buffaloes are 14-5 against current Conference USA teams.
Linda Lappe has never faced any of this year's tournament teams as a head coach. South Alabama's Terry Fowler and Samford's Mike Morris have never faced Colorado as head coaches. Greg Williams has faced Colorado with three different teams. He is 2-4 overall against the Buffaloes, 0-1 with Rice, 1-3 with Colorado State and 1-0 with Houston.
CONNECTIONS: Bianca Smith is in her first year as a Rice assistant coach. Smith was a four-year letterwinner at Colorado (2006-10) and is the team's career and single-season leader in 3-point field goals. Smith is 19th in career scoring at Colorado with 1,138, drilling 257 3-pointers during her career, including 82 in the 2009-10 campaign. The Owls sport one Colorado native on their roster, freshman forward Adaeze Obinnah, a graduate of Aurora's Grandview High School.
OMNI HOTELS CLASSIC: This is the 27th straight year Colorado has hosted an early season women's basketball tournament. For the first 22 years the tournament was known as the Coors Classic, and is in its fifth year of being called the Omni Hotels Classic. Colorado is 42-10 all-time in its home holiday classic and has won 16 of the 25 tournament titles contested. The Buffaloes won last season's classic, and their fourth straight title, by defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and San Diego State. No team champion was crowned at the 2006 Classic as the tournament switched to a true "Classic" format where Colorado and Wyoming played Nevada and Charlotte on consecutive nights, with the Buffaloes and Cowgirls winning both their games.
Rice makes its third Omni Classic appearance. The Owls took second in 1997, falling to Colorado in the championship game, and fourth in 2007.
MORE OFFENSE: Colorado has hit 80 points in three straight games, the first time that has happened since Dec. 19-30, 2009, when the Buffaloes defeated Southern Utah (88-36), San Jose State (86-50) and Grambling State (92-43).
Colorado's 90 points against Iowa were its most since that Grambling State game on Dec. 30, 2009. The Buffaloes scored 85 at New Mexico, the most on the road, in regulation time, since a 101-56 win at TCU on Dec. 7, 1993. Colorado scored 90 on the road in a one-point overtime loss at Baylor on Feb. 23, 2000 and that same number in a 9-point overtime win at Kansas on Feb. 24, 1995.
SCORING BALANCE: A total of seven points separate Colorado's top five scorers on the season and only two points separate the top three. Then plug in Arielle Roberson's 10.7 points per game average in one less game played:
Player Points Avg.
Jen Reese 45 11.3
Jasmine Sborov 44 11.0
Brittany Wilson 43 10.8
Arielle Roberson 32 10.7
Lauren Huggins 40 10.0
Lexy Kresl 38 9.5
The Buffaloes have had a different leading scorer in each of their first four games. Roberson and Jasmine Sborov shared the scoring lead in the season opening win at Colorado State with 13.
Colorado has had five players score in double-digits in the last two games. The Buffaloes didn't register any five-player double-digit games in 2012-13, but were 8-0 in games with four in double figures.
NUMBERS FROM DEEP: Colorado hit 10-of-18 3-pointers at New Mexico, its best performance percentage wise since the home game against the Lobos last season. The Buffaloes hit 62 percent from long range (8-fo-13) in their 84-39 win over New Mexico in Boulder on Dec. 29, 2012. The 10 3-pointers were Colorado's most in a game on the road since hitting 15 at Oklahoma State on March 25, 2012, in the WNIT Quarterfinals. Colorado also had 10 at home against Oregon on Feb. 10, 2013.
Jen Reese and Jasmine Sborov both went 2-for-2 from long range against the Lobos, setting new career-highs for 3-pointers made for both players. In fact the duo, 4-for-4 on the day, had been a combined 7-for-48 (.146) in their careers prior to the New Mexico game.
ROAD WARRIORS: Colorado has won 20 of its last 30 true road contests. Prior to the start of this run, The Buffaloes had just five wins in their previous 37 road games dating back to the 2008 Big 12 Conference schedule. Overall the Buffaloes are 24-13 away from Boulder dating back to the tail end of the 2010-11 season.
BIG WIN STREAKS: With the win over New Mexico, Colorado extended its streak of non-conference regular season wins to 28 games. The Buffaloes claimed perfect 11-0 nonconference marks in each of the last two seasons. Colorado won its final two non-league games in 2010-11, as the streak began with a 74-52 win over Colgate on Dec. 30, 2010.
Colorado's two perfect non-conference seasons comprise of two of the top eight overall winning streaks in team history. The 2011-12 team actually began the season 12-0, including a win in its first ever Pac-12 Conference game, tying for the fifth-best streak in team history and the second longest to begin a season.
The Buffaloes' 11-game streak to start the 2012-13 season ties for the eighth best overall. Throw in a 10-game streak at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, and the Buffaloes have registered three separate double-digit winning streaks in the last two seasons.
Colorado has 10 double-figure win streaks in its history. Head coach Linda Lappe has presided over three of those streaks, one behind her mentor Ceal Barry who coached the Buffaloes to four different double-figure win streaks over her 22 seasons on the bench.
BUFFS ON TV: Colorado will be featured on the Pac-12 Networks 15 times during the 2013-14 regular season, a school record number for television appearances in one campaign.
Colorado's appeared on a program-best 13 national and regional telecasts in 2012-13, a figure that also included three postseason contests. Entering this season, the Buffaloes have tipped off on 112 national or regional contests since the Fall of 2001.
Colorado made its 2013-14 Pac-12 Network debut by hosting Iowa on Nov. 20.
Fourteen of Colorado's 18 conference games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, including eight of nine at home. All home games not televised on the Pac-12 Networks, will be available online through Colorado's Pac-12.com video player. Pac-12 road games that are not televised will be available on the opponent's Pac-12.com video player.
HOME AT THE CECC: Colorado is traditionally tough at home with a 384-129 all-time record at the Coors Events Center (.748), and finished this season with a record of 15-3. The Buffaloes have won 10 or more games in a season at the CEC in 24 of 35 years. The Buffaloes have enjoyed five undefeated seasons (1980-83, 1992-94) at the CEC.