Kansas University didn’t recruit Colorado freshman Alec Burks, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound freshman sensation from Grandview, Mo., who has emerged as one of the top first-year players in the country.
“I know a lot of people made recruiting mistakes on him,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He was a great get for Colorado because he’s really a nice player. He has a chance to be really good.”
Today, KU finally gets to see Burks up close and personal during the 3 p.m. KU-CU contest in Allen Fieldhouse.
He has missed just one game this season because of injury — KU’s narrow 72-66 overtime victory over CU on Feb. 3 in Boulder.
That’s the game in which Cory Higgins had a shot to win it at the regulation buzzer, his three-pointer fading off the mark.
For the year, Burks averages 16.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He has hit 52.8 percent of his shots, including 31.8 percent of his threes (14 of 44). Burks has cashed 78.7 percent of his free throws and has 41 assists against 45 turnovers.
“I’d say no matter if he’s playing or not, it’d still be a tough game,” KU junior center Cole Aldrich said. “He didn’t play against us in Boulder. He’s really good. Obviously they are a heck of a team because they got us into overtime.”
Burks, by the way, is the fourth CU freshman to score 400 points in a debut season. He has 404, trailing Richard Roby (480), Chauncey Billups (465) and Donnie Boyce (417). Burks ranks fifth nationally of all freshmen in points per game and is fifth in field-goal percentage.
CU, which has dropped 14 straight games to KU, enters with a 12-13 overall record, 3-8 in the Big 12. The Buffs, 0-5 on the road in the Big 12 this year, have dropped 34 straight league road games. Their last win was an overtime decision over Oklahoma State on Jan. 21, 2006. CU has also lost 26 straight road games against Div. I opponents, the last victory over Colorado State on Dec. 22, 2007.
“We don’t overlook anybody we play just because we know how tough the Big 12 is,” Aldrich said. “Anything can happen in the Big 12.”
KU has had some problems stopping CU’s Princeton-style offense in the past.
“I would say we guarded their stuff average,” Self said of the first meeting, one in which Marcus Relphorde scored a game-high 18 points. “I’ve been watching a lot of that tape. We didn’t create any havoc. We didn’t create turnovers (13), didn’t create points off our defense like I hope we can. We’ve got to do something to allow them to not get comfortable because their stuff is hard to guard. Over time we’ve shown we can guard it pretty well if we are fresh and into it. To me that’s the big key.”