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Big 12 rivalry renewed: CU Buffs men’s basketball bracing for No. 7 Kansas

Jayhawks 'super senior' guard Remy Martin a familiar foe

Remy Martin #11 of the Kansas ...
Remy Martin #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates hitting a basket against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 18, 2021 in Lawrence, Kansas.

Colorado has made life in Boulder difficult for Remy Martin before. But this time, Martin is bringing a much more intimidating group of friends to the CU Events Center.

A potential season-altering opportunity awaits the Buffaloes on Tuesday night, as Martin and his new mates with the Kansas Jayhawks visit Boulder for CU’s final nonconference game of the season.

Martin, the former star guard at Arizona State, joined Kansas following his fourth season with ASU last year. He and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks will face a Buffs squad expected to be at full strength, as on Monday head coach Tad Boyle said sophomore forward Jabari Walker, CU’s leading scorer and rebounder, is expected to be in the lineup for the renewal of a former Big 12 Conference rivalry.

Walker played less than five minutes during Saturday’s win against Cal State Bakersfield before getting inadvertently clubbed on the head by a Roadrunners player.

“I just remember getting hit, and I was dizzy for a minute,” Walker said. “The first five minutes was the worst of it, but after that it was (good) from there. The biggest thing is I had a stiff neck the next day. Once I got treatment on that, I’m just happy and blessed it wasn’t anything more serious.

“We’re excited. We didn’t get this opportunity last year with COVID. We know it’s something that you don’t get an opportunity to do every year. This is the sophomores’ first year of doing it, and we understand how big this is for the program. We just want to get this win and bring that energy to the city. I know it will be crazy all around in Boulder if we get this win.”

In Martin, the Buffs face an opposing guard who struggled in his three visits to the Events Center during his four seasons with the Sun Devils. In those three games, all CU victories, Martin shot just .290 (9-for-31) while averaging 8.7 points. He averaged 14.9 points overall during his ASU career.

Of course, with Martin taking advantage of his extra season of eligibility granted to all athletes by the NCAA for the 2020-21 COVID year at Kansas, he returns to Boulder with a set of far more talented teammates. Senior Ochai Agbaji leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.0 per game) and has torched the Buffs before, going 8-for-14 with 20 points and 12 rebounds in the teams’ previous meeting two years ago in Lawrence. Guard Christian Braun is a matchup problem at 6-foot-7 who ranks second in the Big 12 with a .626 shooting percentage.

Martin essentially had free reign to fire away at will during his time at ASU, but he has been more tempered in his approach with the talented Jayhawks. Over the past two seasons with the Sun Devils, Martin averaged 14.8 shot attempts per game. So far in 10 games under KU coach Bill Self, Martin has averaged just 7.1 attempts per game.

“He’s much more of a distributor now,” Boyle said of Martin. “He’s looking for other players. I was anxious to see how that would kind of work with coach Self and his system and Remy Martin, having watched Remy play for the last four years. Coach Self, you do it his way, or you don’t play.

“He’s doing a good job for them. He picks his spots. I know coach Self likes (Martin’s) moxie and his aggressiveness and his confidence level and his energy level. Remy has always played with great energy.”

For the Buffs, an upset victory would provide a huge boost to their postseason prospects going into Pac-12 Conference play next week. CU began the week at No. 110 in the NET rankings, with KU at No. 7.

“Going forward, from the last game onwards, every game is a war basically for us,” CU forward Tristan da Silva said. “We’ve got to bring our best energy. We’ve got to be locked in every time. We know what’s ahead of us and we’re preparing for that.”

No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks at CU Buffs men’s basketball

TIPOFF: Tuesday, 7 p.m., CU Events Center.

BROADCAST: TV — ESPN2; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM.

RECORDS: Kansas 9-1; Colorado 9-3.

COACHES: Kansas — Bill Self, 19th season (531-119, 738-224 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 12th season (242-146, 298-212 overall).

KEY PLAYERS: Kansas — G Ochai Agbaji, Sr., 22.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, .561 field goal percentage; G Christian Braun, Jr., 16.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.8 apg; G Remy Martin, G-Sr., 10.9 ppg, 3.2 apg; F David McCormack, Sr., 8.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg. Colorado — F Jabari Walker, So., 13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Sr., 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg; G Keeshawn Barthelemy, R-So., 11.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg; G Elijah Parquet, Sr., 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .500 field goal percentage.

NOTES: Following the game, the Buffs will be allowed to travel home for a short break. The team is expected to reconvene in Boulder on Christmas night…This matchup originally was slated for last season in the completion of a home-and-home set, but the programs agreed to push it forward a year after COVID reshaped the entire 2020-21 college basketball schedule…KU’s last visit to the Events Center was a memorable one, as Askia Booker’s running 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Buffs to a thrilling 75-72 home win on Dec. 7, 2013…That win is just one of two for CU over the teams’ past 49 matchups…Overall, KU leads the all-time series 124-40…Parquet has shot .640 (16-for-25) over the past five games…CU had won six consecutive home games against ranked opponents before losing against then-No. 13 Tennessee on Dec. 4.