It's been 17 years since Missouri finished atop its conference standings. Winning a Big 12 opener on the road for the first time might aid its chances of accomplishing that feat this season.
The ninth-ranked Tigers - on the verge of their first 10-game winning streak in 19 years - would seem to have a good opportunity to end their drought Saturday against Colorado, but the Buffaloes are hoping an improved squad under new coach Tad Boyle can help them snap an eight-game skid in the series.
Missouri (14-1) is off to its best start since winning 21 of 22 to open the 1989-90 season, and it finished off its best non-conference campaign in school history with a 98-58 drubbing of Division II North Alabama on Wednesday night.
For the second time in five games, the Tigers had seven players score in double figures, this time led by Kim English's season-high 20 points. English was the team's leading scorer in 2009-10 (14.0 points per game) but had averaged 10.4 points on 39.4 percent shooting in the first 14 games this season.
"With this team, there's not one guy that you can just scout. The open man is the go-to guy every night," English said. "That's the luxury of our team and it's a blessing to play with such unselfish guys."
With that balanced attack, Missouri is hoping to capture its first regular-season conference title since finishing unbeaten in the Big Eight in 1993-94. The Tigers, who won a league tournament crown in 2009, are 0-4 when opening Big 12 play on the road.
Having posted nine straight victories overall, however, Missouri seems primed to record its longest winning streak since a 17-game run from Feb. 27, 1991-Jan. 4, 1992.
The Tigers, who have claimed their past seven victories by an average of 28.2 points, have won their last four matchups with the Buffaloes by an average of 26.3.
They took an 84-66 win at the Coors Events Center last season as Marcus Denmon scored 22 points off the bench and English chipped in with 21. Denmon's 21 points led the way in a 92-63 home rout Feb. 24, and he enters this game tied for third among Big 12 scorers with 17.2 points per game.
Colorado, though, is off to an 11-4 start under Boyle and has won nine of 10 since losing at Harvard on Nov. 28. The Buffaloes have averaged 84.8 points this season - a marked improvement over their 74.6 points per game in 2009-10 - and 87.2 over the past 10 games.
"I really like the improvement we've made over the last four or five weeks," Boyle said. "I think we understand that we are a heck of a lot better collectively when we play together on both ends of the floor."
Sophomore guard and Grandview, Mo., native Alec Burks has led the way. Colorado's first Big 12 freshman of the year is the conference's second-leading scorer this season (19.1 ppg).
Burks had 27 points last season at home against Missouri, but Cory Higgins was the only other Colorado player in double figures with 15. Higgins, second on the Buffaloes with 16.6 points per game, scored 21 in the loss in Columbia, while Burks had 13.
Missouri leads the series 98-52, but Colorado holds a 34-29 edge in Boulder.
A win Saturday would give the Tigers their second-longest winning streak over the Buffaloes. They claimed 12 consecutive victories Feb. 14, 1979-Feb. 1, 1984.