Colorado State (16-14) at Wyoming (17-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 4:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Arena-Auditorium (15,028) -- Laramie, Wyoming. Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: CSU 14-6, Wyoming 13-4. Away Record: CSU 2-8, Wyoming 3-9. Neutral Record: CSU 0-0, Wyoming 1-0. Conference Record: CSU 7-10, Wyoming 8-9. Series Record: Wyomng leads, 128-92.
GAME NOTES: In the latest edition of the Border War, the Colorado State Rams travel to Laramie to take on the Wyoming Cowboys in a Mountain West Conference bout at Arena-Auditorium.
Colorado State won on Wednesday night at home over San Jose State, 78-66, marking the fourth loss in the last six games for the Rams. They sit in eighth place in MWC. A win by CSU here secures a seed no lower than seventh in the upcoming conference tournament, but a loss drops the Rams to the No. 9 seed. With a victory, the Rams are still in the mix for the sixth seed, depending on the outcome of the Fresno State-San Jose State matchup.
Wyoming is tied for sixth place with Fresno State. The Cowboys have lost their last four games, most recently at Utah State on Wednesday night, 65-54. With a victory and a little help, the Cowboys could earn the fifth seed in the MWC Tournament,
Saturday's bout will be the 221st between Wyoming and Colorado State, as the Cowboys own a 128-92 advantage in the series, which includes a 74-35 mark in Laramie. CSU has won eight of the last nine meetings, though, including the last four. In the most recent encounter, the Rams earned an 82-67 victory in Fort Collins on Feb. 22.
Led by a game-high 21 points from Jon Octeus, the Rams defeated the San Jose State Spartans. Daniel Bejarano added 19 points and nine rebounds, J.J. Avila finished with 15 points and eight assists, and Joe De Ciman chipped in with 10 points. Colorado State shot an impressive 59.3 percent from the field in the first half and a 15-2 run early in the half put the Rams in control as they took a 44-34 lead into halftime. After the break, the Rams struggled with their shooting, making just 38.5 percent of their field goal tries and missing on all but one of their six 3-point tries. San Jose State used an 11-1 run to cut its deficit to four, 60-56, midway through the second half, but the Rams scored 10 straight points to retake control, as they maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Avila is the leading scorer on the season with his 16.8 ppg, but in league action the honor goes to Bejarano who is producing 19.0 ppg. Avila drops to 14.5 ppg in conference, but at least he maintains a solid presence in the paint in Mountain West games with 8.2 rpg, and combines with Bejarano to hand out 112 of the unit's 198 assists. As a unit, the Rams are scoring 68.4 ppg in league games, compared to 73.4 ppg overall.
Josh Adams led all scorers in the contest with 21 points for Wyoming in the recent loss to Utah State, while Nathan Sobey netted 14 points to go with a team-high nine rebounds. Wyoming connected on 38.7 percent of its total shots in the first half, hitting on just 3-of-13 from 3-point range, but still took a 29-26 lead into intermission. The Cowboys dipped to 33.3 percent shooting in the second period, hitting just 2-of-11 from distance. Utah State outscored Wyoming in the half, 39-25, to easily erase the Cowboys' first-half lead.
In conference games, the Cowboys have been producing just 64.6 ppg, second- worst among all MWC squads. The Cowboys are further hampered by the loss of leading scorer Larry Nance Jr. (15.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg), who suffered a season-ending injury on Feb. 18. Without the big man along the front line, the Pokes are left with Adams and Riley Grabau as the primary scoring options with 12.2 and 11 ppg, respectively. Grabau leads the group with 67 3-pointers, while Adams is responsible for 79 assists, but at the same time he has been charged with 72 turnovers. The Cowboys have been playing solid defense, holding opponents to just 61 ppg, although that average has jumped to 68.5 ppg in the four straight losses since Nance Jr. went down.
The Cowboys have been reeling since losing their best player and with the Rams playing well down the stretch, that trend seems likely to continue. Colorado State has enough offensive weapons to take care of Wyoming and go into the postseason with some momentum.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 69, Wyoming 61
03/08 10:55:38 ET