The Colorado Buffaloes have been a bit of a surprise to the Big 12 this season. They started conference play with three consecutive wins over #9 Missouri, at #21 Kansas State and home against Oklahoma State before finally dropping their first conference loss at Nebraska Tuesday night. If the Sooners can follow a simple game plan laid out by Nebraska then they can protect their home court. Despite the attendance, any team playing the Buffaloes at home has an advantage.
Colorado is coming to Norman with a 14-5 record but are also 3-4 on the road. The Buffs road losses were at Georgia, San Francisco, Harvard and Nebraska and their wins were at Indiana, CSU Bakersfield and Kansas State. Much like the Sooners, Colorado is a different team on the road and vulnerable. Nebraska exploited this and used it to propel themselves to a 79-67 win.
The Buffaloes are 11th in the Big 12 in points allowed (71.6) per game, 10th in opponent field goal percentage (44%) per game and 9th in opponent three-point percentage (35%) per game. Oklahoma has to come out with a strong game plan to take advantage of what Colorado will give them. The best best way to attack Colorado's defense is with smart shot selections and by crashing the boards. Sounds simple enough doesn't it?
Nebraska shot 56% from the floor and scored 79 points against Colorado (both of which are above the Buffs averages) by not settling for the three point shot and working the ball inside. The Huskers shot poorly from beyond the arch (4-17) but were aggressive attacking the basket by shooting much better inside the arch and earning 18 free throw attempts.
Offensively, Colorado shoots 49% from the floor which is the second best percentage in the Big 12. They're also 4th in the conference in three-point shooting (37%) and are first among Big 12 teams in free throw shooting with a 78% average.
Guards Alec Burks and Levi Knutson are the keys to the Colorado offense and in defending them the Sooners must aggressively defend the perimeter. Burks is second in the Big 12 in points scored per game (19.8) and Knutson is the best three-point shooter in the conference with a 50% average.
The Sooners absolutely cannot afford to be lazy in defending Colorado. The have to make the Buffs work for shots and prevent second chance points. That's where crashing the boards becomes essential. Nebraska out rebounded Colorado 31-24 and thus limited the Buffs on second chance opportunities.
Its a simple formula and if the Sooners can follow it they should be able to jump on Colorado and force them out of their game plan. It won't be easy at all for Oklahoma to accomplish but it certainly is doable.