AUSTIN, Tex. — If the NIT run being put together by the Colorado men's basketball team is supposed to serve as an extended dress rehearsal for what the Buffaloes might be able to accomplish in the 2019-20 season, it perhaps is meaningful the Buffs will play a true road game Wednesday night at Texas in the NIT quarterfinals (7 p.m. MT, ESPN2).
CU expects to reach the NCAA Tournament next season. Improving its fortunes on the road would make that goal a little more attainable.
Before this season, the Buffs set the lofty goal of winning seven true road games, something no CU team has done since the 1939-40 season. In reality, the Buffs should have gotten there, and a few near-misses on a 5-8 road ledger can be pointed to as the difference between an NIT berth and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Buffs' first road game of the season ended with a six-point loss at San Diego, an eventual NIT participant. CU couldn't maintain the momentum after taking an early 11-6 lead at Arizona on Jan. 3 and squandered a 12-point lead late in the first half at Stanford on Jan. 26. And finally, after a pair of Tyler Bey free throws win 1 minute, 52 seconds left at Washington State gave CU a two-point lead, the Buffs twice whiffed on grabbing a defensive rebound, allowing the Cougars to convert what proved to be a game-winning putback basket.
A win in even two of those four contests would have likely kept CU in the NCAA Tournament conversation, even with some other ugly outings on the road (like at Utah Jan. 20) and the 1-2 showing at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii in December.
It won't be easy Wednesday night. Texas has posted home wins this season against Purdue, Oklahoma, Kansas, Baylor, and Iowa State.
The Buffs will have a number of individual and team milestones within reach at Texas.
With a win, the Buffs would match the record-setting total of 24 shared by the 2010-11 and 2011-12 teams. With 906 field goals this season, the Buffs are the fourth CU team to reach the 900-mark, and with six more field goals CU will own the third-best total in program history.
Point guard McKinley Wright owns 164 assists this season and needs three more to match Mike Reid for the sixth-best single-season total in CU history. Bey has grabbed 343 rebounds this season and needs just five more to own the second-best single-season total in program history, trailing only Andre Roberson's 401 rebounds in 2011-12.
Texas shot .426 (26-for-61) on 3-pointers in its two previous NIT wins...CU has lost six straight games at Texas, dating back to an 81-64 win on Feb. 28, 1998...The Buffs have just one native Texan on the roster in freshman guard Eli Parquet. Parquet is from Beaumont, which is northeast of Houston and nearly four hours from Austin.