Colorado head coach Tad Boyle.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle. ( JEREMY PAPASSO )

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Burdie Haldorson has bled black and gold for nearly 60 years.

That won't necessarily be the case tonight.

"How does the saying go? Blood is thicker than water I guess," Haldorson said.

The legendary Colorado All-American -- who led the Buffs to the Final Four during the 1954-55 season -- is thrilled by the resurgence of the dormant program under Tad Boyle.

But his grandson, Austin Haldorson, is a freshman at Wyoming.

No. 19 CU visits the 7-0 Cowboys on the high plains Saturday night at the Arena-Auditorium (8 p.m., Root Sports).

"I guess an ideal situation is the game goes downs to the end all even, and Austin hits the last shot," Burdie Haldorson said.

That's unlikely. At least this season.

Austin Haldorson, a former star at Highlands Ranch High School, is only averaging 5.4 minutes and 1.6 points while serving as an understudy to starting forwards Leonard Washington and Larry Nance Jr.

"Mother nature hasn't actually taken over yet in terms of his physical growth," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said of Haldorson's development. "But he has oodles of potential. ... Right now he's 6-8 going on about 6-10."

CU head coach Tad Boyle was also high on Haldorson's long-term prospects but decided not to offer him a scholarship after getting commitments from the state's most dominant and developed high school big men of the 2012 class -- Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon.


Advertisement

"I say in basketball it's easy to recruit because we don't have as many numbers. But sometimes it's harder to recruit because we don't have as many numbers," Boyle said. "You can't take them all, and the Haldorson kid is a good example. Obviously, with what his grandfather Burdie means to this program, we would have loved for him to be a Buff.

"But Wyoming did a good job of recruiting him and offered him a scholarship, and I certainly don't begrudge him for taking the opportunity."

Haldorson isn't the only local export looking for a signature victory over nationally ranked CU. Former Boulder High School standout Riley Grabau is Shyatt's starting shooting guard.

"I think both of them are going to be terrific career players for us," Shyatt said. "Riley, I had some guilt last year because I didn't play him as much because we had six seniors."

Grabau, who has 23 assists and four turnovers this season, is questionable with a bad knee. Josh Adams, another true freshman from Colorado (Chaparral High School), would help fill in if necessary.

After recruiting Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie, who were key members of last year's NCAA Tournament team and have been spectacular as sophomores, Boyle tried to add Grabau to the mix.

"We talked to Riley and his family when he was coming out about having the opportunity to be a part of it and walk on," Boyle said.

The Cowboys have won the last five meetings in this Front Range series that dates back to 1908. CU's last victory over Wyoming was on Dec. 10, 1996, when Chauncey Billups led the Buffs to an 84-68 road triumph in Laramie.

According to their head coach, the Buffs (6-0) have the emotional edge in this game after having their 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents snapped by Wyoming last December.

"This will be a great test. Wyoming is a team that came in here and beat us last year," said Dinwiddie, who led CU with 16 points in that 65-54 defeat at the Coors Events Center. "We're going to even higher altitude, and I hear they're pretty solid. This should be a fun test for the team to get a true road game."

Boyle has CU ranked higher than it has been since March 4, 1997, when Billups and Co. were No. 18 in the Associated Press poll.

"The best thing is about Tad's team is that the nation knows about them now," Shyatt said. "Quite honestly, a lot of people in our area have known about the talent they've recruited and how well they've played."

CU's coaching staff has prepared the team to grind out a half-court road win knowing that Wyoming's defense will attempt to limit transition opportunities, possessions, and keep the game in the 50s or 60s.

The physical matchup in the paint between Andre Roberson/Josh Scott and Nance Jr./Washington will be an intriguing one. Last season Wyoming out-rebounded CU 34-29 and held the Buffs to 38.8 percent shooting.

"It will be good to establish our bigs early and maybe get them in foul trouble and make them a little bit less aggressive. That would kind of pull them out of their game," CU senior guard Sabatino Chen said. "They're just solid overall with their first five. I don't think they're very deep though."

Boyle also understands that the depth he has created on the CU roster sets up a scenario where some players who got away are highly motivated to beat the Buffs.

"Those kids would love to stick it in our ear for sure," Boyle said of Haldorson and Grabau. "I think they're both terrific players and good young men from good families, but sometimes the numbers game puts handcuffs on us with 13 scholarships."

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanThorburn

SATURDAY NIGHT: The No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes (6-0) will play their first true road game of the season in Laramie, Wyo., against the Wyoming Cowboys (7-0) at 8 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium.

BROADCAST: Television on Root Sports with Tom Glasgow (play-by-play), Joe Cravens (analyst) and Jenny Cavnar (courtside). Radio on KOA (850 AM) with Mark Johnson (play-by-play) and Chad Brown (color). Follow on Twitter @RyanThorburn.

CU STORY LINES: The Buffs are coming off an 85-80 double-overtime win against Texas Southern. ... Josh Scott continued a strong start to his CU career with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Andre Roberson had a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds), even though he fouled out in regulation. ... CU hasn't been ranked this high since March 4, 1997, when Chauncey Billups' Buffs were No. 18 in the Associated Press poll. ... CU is 3-0 at home and 3-0 on a neutral court (winning the Charleston Classic) this season. ... Tad Boyle is 0-2 against Wyoming (CU's 65-54 loss in Boulder last season and a loss to the Cowboys when he was the Northern Colorado coach). ... Walk-on guard Kevin Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a dislocated ankle. ... CU is off to its first 6-0 start since the 1989-90 season.

WYOMING STORY LINES: The Cowboys, led by 17 points from Luke Martinez (5-for-9 from 3-point distance), are coming off a dominant 68-40 road win over UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday. Former CU forward Keegan Hornbuckle played sparingly for the Gauchos in that game and did not score. ... Two Wyoming players, sophomore guard Riley Grabau and freshman forward Austin Haldorson, have strong ties to Colorado. Grabau was a star at Boulder High School and was invited to walk on at CU. Haldorson is the grandson of Buffs legend Burdie Haldorson. ... Wyoming is 7-0 for the first time since 1987-88 (beat the Buffs 100-68 in Boulder during that stretch).

KEY STATS: The Buffs' next three opponents -- Wyoming, Colorado State and No. 10 Kansas -- are a combined 18-1 entering today's games. ... The Cowboys are 21-3 at home over the past two years. ... Wyoming's win in Boulder last season snapped CU's 25-game winning streak against non-conference opponents at the Coors Events Center.

COACHES: Tad Boyle is 54-26 in his third season at CU. Larry Shyatt is 47-21 in his third season at Wyoming.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado -- F Andre Roberson, 6-7, So., 10.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg; F Josh Scott, 6-10, Fr., 13.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg; G Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-6, So., 13.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg; G Askia Booker, 6-1, So., 17.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg; G Sabatino Chen, 6-4, Sr., 5.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg. Wyoming -- F Leonard Washington, 6-7, Sr., 14.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg; F Larry Nance Jr., 6-8, So., 8.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg; G Derrious Gilmore, 5-10, Sr., 12.1 ppg, 2.9 apg; G Riley Grabau, 6-2, So., 6.4 ppg, 3.3 apg; G Luke Martinez, 6-4, Sr., 13.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg.

SERIES: Wyoming leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1908, 41-35. The Cowboys have won the last five meetings and have not lost to CU since the Buffs' 84-68 win on Dec. 10, 1996, in Laramie.

UP NEXT: The Buffs host Colorado State on Wednesday at the Coors Events Center (8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).