As soon as the Pac-12 released this year's men's basketball schedule, University of Colorado junior Alex Gordon circled the Feb. 14 home game against Arizona on his calendar.
But Gordon says he "double circled" the date after CU's now-infamous Jan. 3 overtime loss in Tucson, in which Buffaloes guard Sabatino Chen banked in what appeared to be a game-winning 3-pointer, only to have the shot waved off.
"I felt betrayed," Gordon said. "When I saw the replay of (Chen's shot), I was 100 percent sure that the refs were going to call it good. We, as a school, know that we got robbed."
For Gordon and the rest of the 11,000 people at the sold-out Coors Events Center, revenge was the name of the game on Valentine's Day, as the
"This was the rematch we were waiting for," freshman Chris Badger said. "Everybody's excited. We felt robbed last time."
Thursday night's electric atmosphere was highlighted by the arena's frenzied student section, the "C-Unit," which was packed to the brim more than 30 minutes before tipoff and provided a deafening roar from start to finish.
"Tonight's going to be the start of us becoming one of the more legitimate student sections in the country," sophomore Lucas Schmolesky said.
Gordon agreed, noting that the C-Unit has "transformed" since he arrived on campus.
"When I showed up as a freshman it was all about football," Gordon said. "No one expected much out of the basketball team. Now, three years later, the entire pride of CU athletics is riding on the basketball team's success. I think they can handle the expectations."
While CU's victory was sweet revenge for many fans, it was also a crucial resume-builder for a Buffaloes team that, come March, hopes to be on the fortunate side of the NCAA Tournament's proverbial bubble.
"Any game you win, you're a step closer," said Hugh Boyle, the brother of CU Head Coach Tad Boyle, adding, "We hope tonight isn't the apex. The atmosphere that my brother has brought to this university surrounding basketball is great ... but we want to be NCAA champions."
With a talented young core and a student section determined to become the Pac-12's version of Duke's Cameron Crazies, the Buffaloes' future seems likely to feature many more big games with wild atmospheres.
But that doesn't mean Thursday's win wasn't especially sweet.
"The energy in this building is unlike anything I've ever felt before," Gordon said. "The Buffs played with the swag and charisma of an NBA team tonight. I'm totally stoked to the max about it."