BOULDER, Colo. - More than 2,000 empty seats greeted Colorado when it opened Big 12 play a year ago against Missouri, but Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle sensed it wouldn't be that way for long.
The Buffs upset the then-eighth-ranked Tigers before an electric Coors Events Center crowd that captivated the Buffs' then-first-year coach.
"This place was jumping," Boyle said Friday, before Colorado's practice. "That's when you said, 'OK, now, if it can be like this one game, it can be like this every game.' That's pretty simplistic, but that's where we want to get to."
They made immediate progress. Colorado went on to sell out the 11,043-seat arena five times last season en route to reaching the NIT Final Four.
This season, despite losing 75 percent of their scoring, the Buffs may be on verge of doing it again.
Today's game with Arizona will be Colorado's first sellout of the season at Coors Events Center, where the Buffs are already 10-1.
Since Boyle took over last season, Colorado is 28-3 at home. Here are a few reasons why:
That's what Boyle called the 2,500-seat Colorado student section when he approached the scorer's table on Thursday after the Buffs' 69-54 win over ASU, thanking them for their support.
A former player at Kansas, Boyle has a particular appreciation for loud and supportive fans.
"There's just such a difference between when they're here and when they're on break," Boyle said. "I just wanted our students to understand they have an effect on the game.
"I've said this many times: College basketball is not necessarily a spectator sport. It's a participant sport. They can have an effect on the game. At the great venues of college basketball, they do."
Colorado guard Carlon Brown has a unique perspective on how altitude can affect visiting teams, having transferred from Utah to join the Buffs. He became a firm believer during his sophomore season in Salt Lake City, when the Utes hosted a respectable team from LSU.
"We beat them by 30 because they were just tired," Brown said. "It definitely has its effects."
While the Utes pulled away with a 24-5 run in the second half of that 91-61 victory in 2008-09, Colorado forward Andre Roberson said he's noticed that opponents often fade in the first half against the Buffs.
Not all the factors behind Colorado's homecourt success are external, of course.
The Buffs are also pretty good.
In Pac-12 play, Colorado leads the league in field-goal percentage defense at 37.5, ahead of second-place Arizona (38.9), and holds conference opponents to an average of 59.5 points a game.
Offensively, they are smart and balanced.
"You can really tell how disciplined and well-coached they are," UA coach Sean Miller said. "They share the ball, make the extra pass and play together as well as any team in our conference. I think that's the biggest compliment that you can pay to a team or a coach.
"They're really on the same page. Their success stems from a true team, their offense, and also they're really connected on defense."
The Buffs stayed together after Alec Burks took off early for the NBA draft and they lost several other key parts last spring. They also stayed close when Colorado struggled earlier this season, including a home loss to Wyoming.
"I wasn't worried about anything," Roberson said. "It's kind of how we started off last year. We didn't do that well at the beginning but picked it up as the season went on. I just feel that's the chemistry of the team."
What puzzles Roberson is why the Buffaloes aren't more aggressive and successful on the road.
But Miller has a feeling that could be easily fixed before long. Colorado has taken only one road trip in the Pac-12, losing at California and Stanford.
"They have a lot of confidence," Miller said. "The road games they've played are two difficult road games in our conference, so I can make the case they also could be a very good road team."
• What: Arizona at Colorado
• When: 4 p.m.
• TV: FSAZ, Ch 58 (Ch 8 on Cox and Comcast)
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM