Forty-nine more points and senior guard Cory Higgins is the career scoring leader at the University of Colorado.

But as Higgins and the Buffaloes prepare to play Cal on Friday night in a second-round NIT game at Boulder, Colo., his mind is on the bigger picture.

The Danville native is part of a winning team for the first time in his college career, and he just wants to keep playing.

"I couldn't ask for much more from my senior year," Higgins said in a phone interview. "Being through the last three years and not having postseason play and finally getting there, it's unbelievable."

The Buffaloes (22-13) expected an NCAA tournament bid Sunday but put that disappointment behind them and routed Texas Southern 88-74 to advance in the NIT. Cal (18-14) would return home to Haas Pavilion for the quarterfinals if it can get past its soon-to-be Pac-12 rival.

Higgins scored 25 points for the Buffs on Wednesday, hiking his career total to 1,953. He's third on the all-time CU list, topped by Richard Roby at 2,001 points. Higgins owns school records for games, games started, minutes played, free throws made and double-figure scoring games with 104.

But through his first three seasons at Colorado, the former Monte Vista High star never played on a winning team, never reached the postseason. Even so, Higgins wasn't immediately excited when the school replaced coach Jeff Bzdelik with Tad Boyle last spring.

When Boyle first met with his new team last April 19, he sought out Higgins to ask his help.

"We didn't want guys jumping ship," Boyle said. "I told him, 'It's your senior year, and nobody should be more vested in this thing than you are.' To his credit, he did that. I'm forever grateful."

"I was thinking, it's my job to try to keep everybody together. If we did, we had a chance to have a season like we've having," said Higgins, who is averaging 16.1 points this season.

The two meshed quickly. Boyle changed Higgins' role a bit, using him as a part-time point guard, which Higgins embraced because he believes it's the position he'll play as a pro.

"Cory can play in a lot of different styles," said his father, Rod Higgins, the former Warriors forward and current general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats. "Coach has definitely helped him become a better basketball player. Cory wants to win and he's trying to make his teammates better."

Boyle said he knows how much the winning means to Higgins.

"He's relished it as much if not more than any of our players because of what he's gone through to get here," Boyle said. "He's a terrific young man. I can't say enough good things about him."

Rod Higgins said he hopes Colorado reaches the NIT semifinals in New York on March 29 so he can perhaps see his son play once more in person.

"The emotions of it are really tough for me. Every missed shot or turnover my kid has, my insides are just churning," Rod Higgins said. "But it's an understatement to say I'm proud of the guy."