FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In a rare Tuesday night Mountain West contest, the Colorado State men’s basketball team put together its most complete game of the conference season with a 86-69 victory over visiting New Mexico, Feb. 23. Snapping their three-game losing skid, the Rams improved to 15-13 and 7-8 in the conference, while the Lobos fell to 16-12 and 9-6 in league action.
After a slow start the last two games, the Rams came out quick this time, opening the contest on a 7-0 run. New Mexico answered with an 11-0 run of its own before a pair of CSU buckets tied the game at 11 with 14:15 to go in the first half. The Lobos then built a 21-15 lead, its largest of the opening period, but CSU again responded, this time with a 7-0 run over the next three minutes to re-take the lead at 22-21. A quick UNM basket put the visitors back on top, but the Rams closed the half on a 16-8 run over the final 5:30 to take a 37-31 halftime lead.
CSU used a combination of strong defense and solid ball movement on offense to build the lead to double digits for most of the second half, leading by as many as 24 late in the second half. Part of the success came from the Rams finding their stroke from long distance. After going 3-of-14 from the three-point arc in the first half after three straight games struggling, Colorado State was 9-of-17 In the second half to finish at 12-of-31 (38.7 percent).
Colorado State finished the game at 48.5 percent (32-of-66) from the field, while New Mexico was 47.9 percent (23-of-48), with the Rams making nine more field goals on the night. UNM was limited to just 25.0 percent (4-of-16) behind the arc. The Rams narrowly won the battle on the boards, 33-31, but amassed 15 offensive rebounds on the night. CSU also forced 15 UNM turnovers while committing only eight themselves.
Junior forward Emmanuel Omogbo led the Rams with a double-double with tying a career-best 18 points and grabbing 13 boards. Redshirt-junior guard John Gillon and redshirt-senior guard Antwan Scott also added 18 points each, while senior forward Tiel Daniels added 16. CSU outscored New Mexico 36-26 in the paint and 21-6 in second-chance points, and the Ram bench doubled up its counterpart, outscoring the Lobo bench 18-9. Junior forward Tim Williams led the Lobos with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and sophomore guard Elijah Brown chipped in 16 points. The Lobos had a third player score in double figures as sophomore guard Cullen Neal tallied 10 points.
IN THEIR WORDS
Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy
(on getting this win)
“There’s no excuses, but there are reasons, and this team has been through a lot. And I thought, there are a lot of things going on, underlining things, tragic things during that Wyoming game, and I think we finally got a chance to start healing and we had some good practices. People have written us off. It was a great win, it was a great character check, and we beat I think the most talented team in the league tonight. It shows you what we’re capable of when we buy into what we’re doing, and I think we finally are, it just takes time because of all the new faces and all the replacements. That was by far the best we’ve executed all year, and we expect to continue to do it.”
(on the overall game)
“At times we’ve just settled way too much, and I thought we had great ball movement, I think it was the most assists we’ve had in conference play, great assist-to-turnover ratio. We created a bad assist-to-turnover ratio for New Mexico, so that’s exactly what you want, and it certainly helps when you shoot the ball and it goes in. That changes the game.”
(On adjustments made for this game)
“We talked about the on-ball screen on the offense. We talked about our spacing and we talked about getting the ball, how many touches a ball had to be touched first whether by a post or a foot in the paint. And that’s how we’ve been wanting to play, but we just have gotten away from it.”
Senior guard Antwan Scott
(on bouncing back)
“We just made adjustments. In shootaround, we just stressed defense, defense, defense. That’s really what we needed. We got back to what we do, which is rebound and defend. We just stayed positive”
(on head coach Larry Eustachy’s coaching of the team this year)
“He’s a brutally honest coach, and I think it takes time for some players to adjust to that. But he’s never gotten down on us this season and is constantly coaching us to be better. Even with the losses he’s stayed positive and really kept us up. That’s really helping this team.”
New Mexico head coach Craig Neal
(Overall thought on tonight’s performance)
“I thought that we (New Mexico) have lost our hunger. We have had some success and now it is getting down to the pressure time late in the conference season, and I just think we have lost our drive/hunger. I cannot coach effort and I do not think there is a coach in America that can coach effort. This game was a perfect example. They (Colorado State) were more physical, worked harder, and wanted it more. Any time they (Colorado State) shots 32 shots in about a 35 minute window and there are 18 defensive rebounds and 14 offensive rebounds, that is just a sign of effort. We got off to a bad start and then we also got off to a bad start in the second half, but overall I was not happy with our effort tonight.”
(Thoughts on Colorado State’s play tonight)
“They (Colorado State) hit some tough shots tonight and you have to give them credit. I am giving them a lot of credit. They played hard, they looked like a team that wanted to win, they had more energy, and they certainly looked like they wanted it more than we did.”
STAT OF THE GAME…
• The Rams turned the Lobos over 15 times and converted those into 25 points.
• Rams improved their all-time record against the Lobos to 45-74, including 34-23 at home and 7-28 in Mountain West play.
• Eustachy picked up his second win in eight tries in his career versus New Mexico
• It was the Rams’ first double-digit win against a MW opponent since Mar. 12, 2015, when they defeated Fresno State in the MW Tournament, 72-59.
• Omogbo’s double-double was the sixth of his CSU career and third in the last four games.
• CSU’s 18 assists are a season-high in a Mountain West game this season.
• CSU outscored UNM 21-6 in second-chance points, taking advantage of its 15 offensive rebounds
• Colorado State is now 11-5 in Moby Arena with just the Senior Day contest against Air Force on Mar. 5 remaining.
• The Rams are now 72-24 (.750) under Larry Eustachy when winning the battle of the boards
• When the Rams shoot 45 percent from the floor or better, they are now 50-6 (20-4 MW) in the four years under Eustachy.
• Colorado State will go on the road for its final two regular-season road contest of the season, starting at Nevada, Sun., Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. MT.
• The contest between the Rams and Wolf Pack will be televised on ROOT Sports and the Mountain West Network (select locations).
• The game audio will air across the Colorado State Sports Network (along with online at portal.stretchinternet.com/csu), with live stats on GameTracker at CSURams.
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