GAME NOTES: The Colorado State Rams and the Virginia Tech Hokies will close out the Las Vegas Classic on Sunday night at Orleans Arena, as both try to finish the tournament unbeaten.
Colorado State has been nothing short of outstanding during this event, registering wins over North Florida (83-55), Cal State-Bakersfield (78-58), and Portland (70-53). The Rams' impressive run has only added on to a great start to the season, as they have won nine of their first 11 games.
Virginia Tech's 9-2 start has been highlighted by home wins over nationally- ranked Oklahoma State (81-71) and Iowa (95-79). The Hokies suffered a setback at against visiting Georgia Southern in the second round of this event on Dec. 15 (78-73), but bounced back by overcoming a double-digit halftime deficit to defeat Bradley in overtime on Saturday, 66-65.
These two squads have never before faced each other on the hardwood.
The Rams put together another dominating performance against Portland on Saturday night, shooting 48.3 percent from the field while leading the game wire-to-wire. Pierce Hornung was the catalyst in the victory, shooting 10- of-14 from the floor for 24 points, while adding 11 rebounds. Daniel Bejarano also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Wes Eikmeier added 14 points. On the season, Colorado State shoots a respectable 45.2 percent from the field in averaging 73.5 ppg, while holding opponents to a lowly 40.2 percent. Colton Iverson has been solid in the paint with 14.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg, while Hornung is also strong in the frontcourt with 9.7 ppg and 10.1 rpg. In large part to those two centerpieces up front, the Rams are able to sport one of the nation's best rebounding margins (plus-14.7). Surrounding the big guys is a nice complement of outside shooters in Dorian Green (12.1 ppg), Greg Smith (11.6 ppg) and Eikmeier (10.3 ppg).
The Hokies trailed by double digits in the second half against Bradley only to come back and force overtime. Down five with less than a minute remaining in the extra session, they managed to end the game on 6-0 run to take the improbable 66-65 win. Adding to his already outstanding season was Erick Green, who scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field. With the performance, Green passed Lehigh's C.J. McCollum to become the nation's leading scoring with 25.4 ppg. Cadarian Raines was also impressive in the win with 16 points, nine boards and three blocks, while Jarrell Eddie tacked on 12 points. For the season, Virginia Tech is able to score 10.4 ppg more than its opponents by shooting 45.2 percent from the floor while holding those foes to just 39.5 percent. It is far from a one-man show, as Eddie has been an excellent scoring complement for Green by netting 15.1 ppg while leading the team in 3-point field goals (25). Robert Brown has also been effective, putting up 11.4 ppg.
With both teams off to strong starts, this should be a competitive contest. Colorado State has the advantage in the trenches with Iverson and Hornung, but Green has the ability to neutralize the Rams' frontcourt by scoring from the outside. Figure the Hokies to pull out another late win behind the scoring prowess of Green.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 70, Colorado State 68
12/23 10:33:14 ET
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