With the opener just a couple of days away, there has been a different focus and intensity in practice this week.
"The closer you get to game day, these guys start to get a little pep in their step," Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle said.
The Buffs open the season Friday against Baylor in Dallas.
Going up against the No. 25 team in the country adds to that. This will be the first time in CU history that it will face a ranked team in the season opener. It's the first time since the 2003-04 season that the Buffs will play the opener away from Boulder.
"It's exciting," junior guard Askia Booker said. "We haven't had a game to start off this big in I don't know how long."
Adding to the intensity is the recent past between these teams. They are former Big 12 Conference rivals. Then, they squared off in the 2012 NCAA Tournament -- an 80-63 Baylor win -- and in the Charleston Classic last November , a 60-58 CU victory.
"This is probably like our rival, I feel like, from the past three years since I've been here," Booker said. "It's a rival game almost. They don't like us, we don't like them.
"We're going to give them our best shot and they're going to give us their best shot. I think it's just an exciting game that everyone is going to be hyped about and hopefully we come out on top."
Boyle set up the Buffs' schedule to be tougher than normal, but just days before the opener, he said he's not sure if it's good or not to get tested so early.
"I don't know if that's the best thing or the worst thing," he said. "I know it's what we've got, so that's what we're going to do."
Considering CU's upset of the Bears last year, Boyle thinks Baylor will have the emotional advantage, because the Bears will be seeking some revenge.
"We better be ready to handle that," Boyle said. "Up to this point, we haven't showed that we're ready for that yet. But, that's why they play the games. That's why we're going down to Dallas on Friday to see where we're at, see what happens."
Scouting the Buffs
Baylor coach Scott Drew is familiar with the Buffs, of course. On Wednesday, he was on a teleconference for the Buckets and Boots Showcase and said of the Buffs, "Colorado does a great job of pushing the ball in transition and then when they're in the half court, they really defend and they really do a good job in playing a good physical style.
"That's a great game that helps prepare us for the rest of the season, helps prepare us for the Big 12, because the Big 12 is physical and likes to play fast."
Baylor is still looking for a full-time replacement for standout point guard Pierre Jackson. The Bears have reportedly tried as many as six players at point guard during practice. Drew said he has narrowed it down to three players who "will get the first crack" at the job: Kenny Cherry, Gary Franklin and Ishmael Wainright. ... Baylor was ranked No. 16 when the teams met a year ago. That was the first time since the 2001-02 season that CU had faced a ranked team before January.