CU women's basketball preview: Southern California

MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (12-15, 2-14 Pac-12) at Southern California Trojans (5-12, 5-11)

GAME TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. MT, at Galen Center in Los Angeles

BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks. Radio — KHOW 630 AM

COACHES: Colorado — JR Payne, 3rd season (44-47; 145-160 career). USC — Mark Trakh, 7th season (110-75; 413-278 career)

KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G Quinessa Caylao-Do, Jr., 11.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg; G Lesila Finau, Fr., 3.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.4 apg; G/F Mya Hollingshed, So., 10.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg; G Kennedy Leonard, Sr., 13.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 7.1 apg; G Alexis Robinson, Sr., 12.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg; F Peanut Tuitele, Fr., 7.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg. USC — G Aliyah Mazyck, Sr., 15.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg; G Mariya Moore, Sr., 13.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.6 apg; G Minyon Moore, Jr., 14.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 6.3 apg; F Kayla Overbeck, Jr., 6.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg; F Ja'Tavia Tapley, Jr., 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg.


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NOTABLE: The Buffs have won two of their last five games, but are coming off a 60-46 loss to Washington on Sunday. ... USC has lost three in a row - all against top-10 ranked teams. ... CU trails the all-time series, 11-7, but defeated the Trojans, 81-76, on Feb. 10 in Boulder. ... Robinson has missed the last three games with a knee injury and is a game-time decision for playing against the Trojans. She has 16 points in the win against USC. ... Payne said she's hoping the Buffs take some confidence into Friday's game after defeating the Trojans already. "When you've struggled more than usual in a season, the times you've been successful and played really well and come out on top, you really want to latch onto that," she said. "I think our team is smart and understands we'll see a much tougher USC team in L.A. than we did at home, but I also think they're excited to get a chance to play them again."

Through the lens of her camera, Alexis Robinson has developed a knack for discovering beauty in her surroundings.

Architecture in Vatican City, a bicycle on a Seattle street, a laundromat on the Hill in Boulder.

"It's a lot of fun. I love it," Robinson said. "I don't even know how to describe it; being able to capture a scene that's so beautiful and being able to share it and send it to my family; I love being able to do that."

Robinson's newest passion is a change from the love that brought her to Boulder in the fall of 2015 as a member of the CU women's basketball team, yet in both cases she has managed to create quite a portfolio.

One of two seniors with the Buffs — along with fellow guard Kennedy Leonard — Robinson has been a steady presence in the lineup for four seasons, averaging 10.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

With Leonard injured for 10 games this season, Robinson took her game a new level.

"The thing I'm most proud of is just the way she's blossomed in these last couple of months," CU head coach JR Payne said. "She's been obviously a great player but also has really been there for her teammates and been a really solid, steady-eddie."

Robinson ranks 20th in CU history in points scored (1,250), eighth in 3-pointers made (179) and 16th in steals (161), but that's not what has made her cherish her time with the Buffs.

"When I look at my career, I really don't look at any of the numbers," she said. "I just look at the relationships I've made and it's such a blessing to be able to have teammates like I do and coaches that I do, and the fans. That's really what I look back and see. Was I able to impact somebody else's life - young kids that come to the game? Just being able to be someone for them is great."

The numbers don't top the list of Payne's memories, either. Hired after Robinson's freshman year, Payne said she's enjoyed watching Robinson grow as a person.

"When I first met her and really got to know her ... Lexy has a really great heart, she's a really great person," Payne said. "She's a great teammate, and loves her teammates, loves her family."

Growing up in Ashland, Ky., Robinson made a big life change to come to Boulder, but it's been the relationships with teammates and coaches and in the community that have made her time at CU special.

"I love it out here," she said. "I love it out west, I love Colorado, I love Boulder. This place is definitely a home away from home. The friends that I've made and the relationships I've made here are relationships and friendships that I'm going to have forever. I have best friends here that are going to be in my wedding one day and it's just really amazing that I was blessed enough to be a part of this."

Robinson has incorporated her teammates and friends into her passion for photography, as well, using them for artistic shots that put her developing talent on display.

"As athletes, we don't really have much time to get dressed up and do shoots," she said. "We have a lot of basketball shoots, but not just normal shoots. A lot of them, they love it, so it's pretty awesome that I get to share it with my friends like that."

Playing 116 games for the Buffs, Robinson has been the focus of a lot of photos, and she admits she likes some more than others.

"Every once in a while they catch one of me with an ugly face and I don't like those too much," she said, "but I like the ones where I'm shooting or just dribbling up the court and looking to run the offense. And, pictures that show a lot of aggression and assertiveness and my power. I like those."

Robinson's been at her best when she's aggressive on the court, and hopes to help the Buffs to a few more wins before she's done. She then hopes to play professionally overseas.

Regardless of how long she plays basketball, Robinson is sure to continue capturing the beauty around her.

"It's something that hopefully one day will be a huge part of my life," she said. "I really love photography. I always have my camera around. I'm always looking for a new scene to take a picture of."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33