Wes Eikmeier tries to drive around UNLV's Quintrell Thomas.
Jan. 20, 2011
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Head Coach Tim Miles and the CSU men’s basketball team have talked all season long about one goal: Playing in the NCAA tournament. Wednesday night, the Rams added a very big road win to their postseason résumé with a 78-63 victory over the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in front of 11,266 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I’m really happy and proud for the kids,” said Miles. “They came out, didn’t back down, stayed on the attack, and they really did a nice job. It was really fun to be a part of.”
The win, arguably the biggest of Miles’ four-year tenure at Colorado State, marked CSU’s first road win over UNLV since Brian Greene’s game-winning jumper pushed the Rams past the Rebels for the 2003 MWC Championship - the last time that CSU played in the NCAA tournament – and marks just the fifth road win all-time for the Rams against the Rebels, a perennial NCAA tourney contender and MWC power.
“(Winning on the road in the MWC) is not easily done,” added Miles. “We got into a situation where I thought that if we could stay on the attack, and not let their pressure stand us up, then we’d be ok. We played with good poise the whole night.”
Colorado State led wire-to-wire Wednesday night, using a strong first-half effort from top scorer Andy Ogide to earn an early advantage, and relying on Ogide, Travis Franklin and Wes Eikmeier to hold off the Rebels throughout the second half. Ogide tallied 10 points in the opening stanza, on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting effort. He was nearly as impressive in the second half, connecting on 4-of-5 shots and knocking down a pair of free throws to finish with 18 points.
“We wanted to put an emphasis on starting out well and playing consistently throughout the whole game," said Franklin. "And that's what we did tonight. We played from in front."
Franklin overcame a slow first half – six points on 3-of-7 shooting – and finished the game 9-of-16 from the field (and 6-of-9 from the free-thow line) to tie a career high with 25 points in the contest.
Eikmeier also finished in double figures scoring for the Rams, tallying nine of his 14 points after halftime.
After the Rams built an 11-point lead in the first 15 minutes of the game, the Rebels defensive pressure caused CSU guards to commit several key turnovers late in the first half and into the second, allowing the Rebels to creep back into the contest.
UNLV closed the first half on an 8-2 run and CSU went into the locker room clinging to a 30-25 lead after pair of Adam Nigon free throws with no time on the clock. The Rebels then scored six of the game’s first seven points coming out the intermission and tied the game 31-31, with more than 17 minutes remaining on the clock.
But Ogide, Franklin and Eikmeier answered the call, leading the Rams on an 11-2 run between the 16:02 and 14:21 marks of the second half, to push the Rebels’ deficit back to three possessions, 42-33.
UNLV made another run midway through the half, and following a pair of Justin Hawkins free-throws at the 7:31 mark, the Rams’ lead was cut to 53-50 thanks to a four-minute drought in which CSU failed to connect on a field goal.
Ogide, Eikmeier and Franklin pulled the Rams through once again. Ogide sparked this CSU run with a jumper at the 7:13 mark. The stretch, a 16-4 Rams’ run, also featured a jumper from Eikmeier, seven points (including a pair of three-point plays) by Franklin, an impressive offensive rebound and tip-in from Pierce Hornung and a fast-break layup by Greg Smith, and pushed CSU’ lead to 69-54 with 3:32 left to play, prompting many Rebels fans to head towards the exits.
"UNLV is a good team and we knew that they were going to make a lot of runs,” added Franklin. “We just kept our composure and came out with the win."
The Rams sealed the victory combining to shoot 9-of-10 as a team from the free-throw line over the final 2:53 to come away with the 15-point victory.
Colorado State shot 56 percent (28-for-50) as a team in the contest, while holding UNLV to 41.5 percent (22-for-53) from the field. CSU also held an edge in rebounding (34-29) assists (16-13), and blocks (3-1).
Ogide and Franklin helped the Rams to a 30-20 scoring advantage in the paint, and tied for game-high honors with eight rebounds each. Eikmeier knocked down two of CSU’s four three-pointers and sophomore guard Dorian Green, who was held to just two points on a pair of late-game free throws, tied a season high with six assists.
The win sets up a matchup between the second- and third-place teams in the Mountain West Conference when No. 9-ranked BYU (18-1, 4-0 MWC) visits Moby Arena for the final time as a member of the MWC on Saturday night. BYU sits in second place in the league standings behind undefeated and sixth-ranked San Diego State (20-0, 5-0 MWC). Overall the Cougars have won nine of their last ten. CSU sits one game behind the Cougars with a 3-1 mark in the MWC. The Rams have won eight of their last 10 games overall.
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