Colorado is off to its best 10-game start since the 2001-02 season.

Eleven years ago the 8-2 Buffs racked up seven of the wins at home against cupcakes like Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Regis and Southern.

Despite having a solid nucleus of talented players, including David Harrison, Stephane Pelle, Blair Wilson and Michel Morandais, CU finished 5-11 in the Big 12 and 15-14 overall that season.

Tad Boyle's 2012-13 Buffs have faced a much more difficult non-conference slate en route to 8-2.

CU picked up three quality wins at the Charleston Classic over Dayton, then-No. 17 Baylor and Murray State. The young roster has also played true road games at Wyoming, then-No. 9 Kansas and Fresno State.

Entering the weekend, CU was ranked No. 3 nationally in RPI by CBSSports.com behind Duke and Michigan.

The Buffs have averaged 10,290 fans in four home games, including a Coors Events Center record crowd of 11,708 for the 70-61 victory over Colorado State.

And Boyle believes his third CU team hasn't even scratched the surface yet.

"What's exciting to me is this team has a lot of room for improvement," Boyle said.

The Buffs will take some time off for final exams before hosting Northern Arizona on Dec. 21. Here's a review of the team's first 10 games:

The Good ...

The atmosphere at the Coors Events Center


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CU had never sold out a regular-season non-conference game until the opener against Wofford College. After the Pac-12 Tournament championship edifice was unveiled, the Buffs delivered a 74-59 victory.

The wins over Front Range rivals Air Force and Colorado State were also witnessed by capacity crowds in Boulder.

Boyle's program has even been an inspiration over at the Dal Ward Center.

"We talked to our candidates a lot about the basketball model and about Coach Boyle," CU athletic director Mike Bohn said after introducing Mike MacIntyre as the football coach at Monday's press conference, which was attended by Boyle. "It's something we're trying to replicate."

Josh Scott's learning curve

The bell cow of CU's top-25 recruiting class has not disappointed. Scott, a 6-11 freshman, is averaging 12.6 points and 5.7 rebounds.

In back-to-back games against Jeff Withey (Kansas) and Robert Upshaw (Fresno State), Scott averaged 15.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while his 7-foot counterparts averaged 6.0 points and 5.5 rebounds.

"I've had my ups and my downs," the humble Scott said. "I'm just trying to enjoy the experience and not worry about the downs or get too high off the ups. I've been enjoying it so far."

The maturity of Spencer Dinwiddie

CU's 6-6 point guard added a little height, a lot of muscle, and a defensive mindset over the summer. Dinwiddie frustrated two of the nation's best scoring guards, Baylor's Pierre Jackson and Murray State's Isaiah Canaan, during the Charleston Classic.

The sophomore has also shown an ability to take over a game on the other end of the court, if necessary. Dinwiddie kept CU in the loss at Wyoming with 24 points and scored a career-high 29 points in the win over CSU after referring to the Rams as "Little Brother."

"We didn't show any resolve defensively. Like I was telling the team, with 54 points you can win a game, but you can't win a game if you let people score 90," Dinwiddie said after CU's 90-54 loss to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse a week ago. "We're not that explosive offensively. Can we score 80, can we compete, can we run? Yeah, but when you let someone score 90 you're doing a lot of things wrong defensively."

After the humbling trip to Lawrence, CU beat Fresno State 50-43.

Mr. Double-Double

Andre Roberson was perhaps trying too hard to impress NBA scouts early in the season on the offensive end. But recently the 6-7 junior forward has gotten back to his bread and butter -- dominating the glass.

During the Buffs' first road win of the season on Wednesday at Fresno State, a more relaxed Roberson scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds.

"You're just used to watching Andre get rebounds and then at the end of the game you see how many he has," center Shane Harris-Tunks said.

Roberson is averaging 12.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

The Bad ...

Lack of bench production

Boyle blames a somewhat thin rotation on a difficult schedule. The third-year head coach hopes to develop more confidence in his reserves during practices over the holidays and the remaining non-conference games against Northern Arizona and Hartford.

Fresno State had a 20-3 edge in bench scoring. Freshman Xavier Johnson (5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds) has provided a spark at times in the sixth man role, but foul trouble has limited the 6-7 wing to 18.2 minutes a game.

Junior guard Jeremy Adams, hampered by knee problems at the beginning of the season, is averaging just 1.5 points and 6.9 minutes.

"We need practice time," Boyle said. "We have nine days between games and we're going to take some of those days off. But the practices we have must be spirited, productive, and we have to show improvement between now and December 21st when we take the floor again."

Free throw shooting

CU ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (.664) with 182 makes and 92 misses. Roberson is only shooting 50 percent (24-of-48) at the stripe.

Boyle will point out that the Buffs have made them down the stretch in tight wins over Murray State and Fresno State.

Still, in order to win road games in Pac-12 play this team is going to have to start knocking down about 75 percent of its free throws.

Dinwiddie (74.4 percent) and Sabatino Chen (76.9 percent) are the only regulars in that neighborhood at present.

Assist-to-turnover ratio

The CU program is built on defense and rebounding. Boyle knows the offense must also evolve into a much more efficient machine in order to get to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament.

The Buffs are eighth in the conference in scoring offense (69.9 ppg), 10th in turnover margin (-2.10) and last in assists (9.1 apg).

It adds up to the Pac-12's worst assist-to-turnover ratio (0.6).

And The Ugly

Kansas 90, CU 54

CU deserves a lot of credit for playing a challenging non-conference schedule. Only six other programs from BCS conferences have played at least three neutral-court games and three true road games at this point in the season.

No. 8 Arizona will play eight home games and two road games before opening up Pac-12 play against CU in Tucson.

UCLA will play a total of nine non-conference games at Pauley Pavilion and four other games on neutral courts. The Bruins' first true road game will be Jan. 10 at Utah (followed by a trip to Boulder two days later).

But the Buffs, who were ranked No. 19 in the polls after a 6-0 November, failed the litmus test at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks rocked and shocked their former Big 12 rivals from start to finish.

"What we learned from the KU game is they are tough. It was just rough out there," Askia Booker said. "We learned that we have to also have the will to compete and rebound and not let your man get a second-chance shot."

Four days after the loss in Lawrence, CU out-rebounded an athletic Fresno State team 40-33 and held the Bulldogs to 29.6 percent shooting for the team's first road win of the season.

Overall, the first 10 games went well for a CU squad that starts one senior, one junior, one freshman and two sophomores and typically brings three more freshmen and two juniors off the bench.

"What I like most about this team is our heart. We fight," Roberson said. "And we have a lot of potential to be good and one of the top programs in the nation."

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanThorburn