Colorado head coach Tad Boyle walked into the media room for his postgame press conference Saturday and saw two of his players finishing their time in front of reporters.
"Ben Mills at the podium! I like it!," the Buffs head coach said.
Mills, a 7-foot senior from Harland, Wis., hasn't had many occasions, if any, to do a postgame press conference during his career. But, on Saturday, he deserved it.
Although he played just 10 minutes -- a career-high -- those 10 minutes were critical for the Buffs in their 75-72 win against No. 6 Kansas.
"Ben's minutes in the first half were unbelievable," Boyle said. "There's certain teams he matches up against better, and this is one of them. They have a big front line and big bodies. He made some nice plays offensively and got a big offensive rebound."
Mills, who hasn't played much throughout his career, scored four points in a row late in the first half, giving the Buffs their first lead, at 26-25. He also grabbed three rebounds and played solid defense against two projected NBA lottery picks -- Kansas' Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid.
"It was so much fun," Mills said. "This is something you dream of as a kid, a packed house in Coors Events Center, the fans going nuts. To come in and play well in front of the fans and put on a show for them, it was great."
CU played without redshirt freshman forward Wesley Gordon, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Gordon had started every game and was second on the team in rebounds, so the Buffs needed another big body in the paint against the bigger Jayhawks. Mills proved to be up to the task.
"This guy comes to practice every day and works his butt off," said guard Askia Booker, who joined Mills at the podium. "He might not play as much as he wants or as much as he should, but when his number was called he was ready. Without him we wouldn't have won the game."
After the game, Boyle didn't have an update on Gordon's condition.
"Hopefully it was just 40 minutes that we miss Wesley," Boyle said. "I don't know what the prognosis is as he moves into next week. I told our team we just have to play 40 minutes without him; we don't have to play the rest of the year without him."
In the zone
It would be tough to find two coaches in the country that despise zone defense as much as Boyle and Kansas' Bill Self. Yet, both of them employed a zone defense at times on Saturday.
Boyle put the Buffs in a zone defense during the first half -- and at times during the second -- the first time this season he has used a zone. He said Kansas' struggles this season from the outside played a role in that. The Jayhawks came in shooting just 30.7 percent from 3-point range.
"We wanted to make them a jump-shooting team, whether we played man or we played zone," Boyle said. "The zone, it's easier to keep the ball out of the post. They're such good post feeders and such good post players that the zone really helped keep the ball out of the post but made them shoot jump shots."
KU made just five of 20 shots from 3-point range against the Buffs.
"I swallowed my pride," Boyle said of using a zone. "I want that to be understood, I swallowed my pride when I went zone. If they would have made some shots against it in the first half early, we probably would have got out of it because I'm not committed to it.
"If it can help you win a game, I'll swallow my pride to do that. It helped us win the game tonight. There's no doubt about it."
Struggles at the line
Throughout the season, the Buffs have been very good at the free throw line, connecting on 74.1 percent of their free throws during the first nine games. On Saturday, however, the Buffs were just 22 of 37 (59.5 percent).
"They almost did (cost the Buffs)," said Booker, who was 2-for-6 at the line.
The Buffs were 2-for-4 at the line in the final 19 seconds, when a perfect number could have sealed the win.
"We made just enough to win the game," Boyle said.
CU's nine-game winning streak is its longest since a nine-game streak during the 2005-06 season. ... The Buffs' Spencer Dinwiddie tied his career high with seven assists. He also passed former teammate Andre Roberson on the career scoring chart. He now ranks 29th, with 1,018 points -- two behind Chauncey Billups. ... Xavier Johnson had a season-high 14 points and tied his career high with three steals. ... KU leads the all-time series 123-40, including 40-27 in Boulder. ... CU improved to 51-7 at home under Boyle.