Written by  in Sports on Feb 25, 2011 5:00 / comments

The Buffs may be the underdogs this coming Saturday, but they don’t plan on playing dead.

The Texas Longhorns, whose only conference loss came against Nebraska on Feb. 19, wouldn’t want to put another blemish on their nearly perfect record.

The Buffs have an even bigger incentive to win: a victory is crucial in keeping their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

“We need this big win to get into the tournament, and they need it to stay on top,” freshman forward Andre Roberson said.

Though Head Coach Tad Boyle knows the stakes are high, he said he is also confident that the Buffs know what they have to do to win.

“Texas is one of the best defensive teams,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball better than we have been recently.”

Boyle also took note of the Longhorns’ rebounding skills. Texas is ranked No.8 in the NCAA in total rebounds per game. Roberson, who has consistently leads the Buffs’ in rebounds this season, will need to be on his game come Saturday.

“It’s kind of my role on the team,” Roberson said. “I feel like if I don’t do it, it’ll be hard for us to get a win, to be honest.”

The Longhorns bring several talented players to the court. Guards senior Joseph Balbay and freshman Cory Joseph pose a threat on defense, while senior forward Gary Johnson and freshman forward Tristan Thompson make a powerful offensive team.

“[Johnson and Thompson] are both pretty good players, so we’re going to try and contain them,” senior forward Marcus Relphorde said.

Texas leads Colorado in the all-time series, 14-8. Saturday marks the last time the two teams match up before heading to separate conferences next year.

Boyle said that as the season winds down, some of his seniors are itching for a strong finish.

“Andre [Roberson] is still young enough in his career where he just goes out and plays,” Boyle said. “But for the seniors, it’s their last crack at everybody.”

Relphorde said he sees Saturday’s matchup as just another opportunity for an upset.

“People expect us to lose that game,” he said. “So we’re just going in with the mindset of going real hard. We know we can win.”

One thing is for certain: the approach of the NCAA Tournament means crunch time for the Buffs, and their need to win is strong.

“I think our guys know what’s at stake,” Boyle said. “The margin for error is zero.”

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.maconi@colorado.edu.