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Hot-shooting Colorado on the rise, faces Northern Colorado

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Coach Prime has stolen all the headlines about the Colorado Buffaloes, but the men’s basketball team is putting together a special season.

Colorado (7-2), led by junior guard KJ Simpson, already has been ranked and is on the verge of getting back into the polls. The Buffaloes can state their case when they host Northern Colorado on Friday night in Boulder, Colo.

Simpson leads the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game and is also averaging 4.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He had 20 points in a 90-63 rout of then-No. 15 Miami on Sunday, and his coach believes he should be in the conversation with the best guards in the nation.

“KJ Simpson is playing like a top-10 point guard in the country through the first nine games of the season,” Tad Boyle said. “Except for maybe Florida State, he didn’t play well against them. But the numbers he’s putting up, the efficiency he’s playing with, the way he’s leading the team.”

Starting with the Bears on Friday night, Colorado has two games left before opening its final season of Pac-12 play.

Northern Colorado (4-5) is coming off a 101-99 double-overtime loss at Texas A&M-Commerce on Monday.

“Today was a great college basketball game, and unfortunately we came up one or two plays short,” Northern Colorado coach Steve Smiley said. “We certainly had our chances and played a great game overall, leading for 39 of the 45 minutes, but a couple of mistakes and missed opportunities were the difference. … This is another learning opportunity to improve upon, and we will do just that.”

The Bears are led by Saint Thomas, who is averaging 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds a game for them. He was named the Big Sky Co-Player of the Week for two straight weeks.

Northern Colorado will have to stop a Buffaloes team that is riding high after going to New York and beating the Hurricanes. It took the sting out of a loss at Colorado State on Nov. 29 and is a solid resume-builder for them when the NCAA Tournament field is announced in March.

Colorado has shot better than 50 percent from the field in seven of its nine games and ranks top-10 nationally in field-goal percentage (52.5), 3-point percentage (40.9) and free-throw percentage (78.9).

–Field Level Media

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