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Billups paves CU
road to upset
One of CU's
top perimeter threats in hoops history, Chauncey Billups graced the CU
campus for two seasons before departing for the NBA. As a sophomore in
1997, Billups was named a first-team All-American by Basketball News, becoming
the eighth in Colorado history. Known for his playmaking skills and ability
to penetrate, Billups also led the Buffs to their first NCAA Tournament
in over two decades, where CU topped perennial power Indiana in the opening
round. Billups went on to be the third pick in the NBA draft in June and
is still enjoying success in the pros. (Keyed in byAllison Gomez, Student
Assistant Sports Information Director, on
January 12, 2004).
Billups led CU to the 1997 NCAA Tournament and was named to the
Basketball News All-America team.
January 12, 1997
By: B.G. Brooks
Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
Texas – With less than a second to play Saturday night,
sophomore Chauncey Billups spun, jumped and shot – and sent University
of Colorado men’s basketball spiraling to a new level.
Billups’ 8-foot jumper sank No. 20 Texas Tech 80-78, ending the nation’s
third-longest home-court winning streak at 35 and giving the boffo Buffs their
first road victory over a ranked team in this decade.
“If anybody didn’t think we’re for real – watch out.
There’s a stampede coming,” CU senior Martice Moore said.
The victory kept the Buffs undefeated (3-0) in the Big 12 Conference and raised
their overall record to 12-3 – their best start since the 1978-79 season.
The triumph, witnessed by a national television audience (ESPN) and a stunned
capacity crowd (8,174) in the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum, also capped an impressive
2-0 conference road swing for CU. On Tuesday night, the Buffs won 87-78 in
Columbia, Mo. – a road stop that had seen CU lose 25 straight on Missouri’s
“All I wanted to do was lay it on the line and see what happens,” CU
first-year coach Ricardo Patton said. “The kids talked about (Tech’s)
35-game streak; I didn’t mention it to them. I think they were trying to
If so, it worked. CU rallied from a seven-point first-half deficit, then from
a six-point second-half, disadvantage to stun Tech (10-3, 2-1).
After forcing a Red Raiders turn-over on an inbounds pass with 11.8 seconds
to play, Billups asked Patton to change the play his coach had diagrammed.
Patton wanted Billups to take a shot off a screen; Billups wanted a side cleared
and be allowed to either take a last shot or draw a foul.
So Patton acquiesced to Billups, and later said with a laugh, “That’s
good coaching, right?”
With defender Duece Jones shadowing him, Billups dribbled in from the right
side, spun and watched the shot heard in Boulder and beyond fall cleanly through.
“That was the biggest shot of my life,” said Billups, who finished
with a season-high 29 points – giving him 57 for the two-game trip.
Just as vital for the Buffs was their defense, although 6-foot-11 Tech center
Tony Battie managed a career-high 31 points and 17 rebounds.
“Battie dictates his own game,” said Moore, whose short bank shot
tied the score 78-78 with 27 seconds to play. “It’s going to take
NBA caliber players to stop him.”
“They guarded us really well,” Tech coach James Dickey said. “Their
press was good. They changed defenses, played a zone, played a trap. The loss
is what bothers me; the streak was never a factor.”
After trailing by as many as seven points (19-12) with the first half less
than half done, the persistent Buffs had pulled to 41-40 by intermission.
Had they not wasted three consecutive possessions in the final 3 minutes, they
might have escaped the opening half with the lead.
And staying within a point at the break might have been even more improbable
considering Ronnie DeGray, who opened the game checking Battie, played only
3 minutes after picking up two early fouls.
But CU compensated, receiving strong contributions from Greg Jensen and Dennis
Griffith while Tech was suffering through its poorest shooting half (.333)
of the season.
Plus, the Red Raiders were frigid from behind the three-point arc, hitting
just three of their dozen attempts while the Buffs were canning five of eight.
Jensen matched his season three-point total (two) in the first 20 minutes,
hitting both of his long distance attempts, then buried his third trey of the
game early in the second half. Martice Moore deposited two of his three tries
in the opening half.