Men's basketball recap: Rams roll past Mustangs, 75-56, in NIT Season Tip-Off opener
Nov. 14, 2011
By Danny Mattie
STANFORD, Calif. – The Colorado State men’s basketball team looked very sharp Monday evening, rolling to a 75-56 victory over the SMU Mustangs in the opening round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
The Rams (2-0) dominated the contest from start to finish, with the exception of a 16-second clip in the game’s opening minutes when SMU (1-1) held a 5-4 advantage. CSU outshot and outrebounded the Mustangs, and thanks to four three-pointers each from Dorian Green and Wes Eikmeier, the Rams rolled into the West Regional championship where they will face off against the winner of Monday night’s second semifinal matchup between host Stanford and Fresno State.
“We had a nice rhythm and flow to our offense tonight,” said Head Coach Tim Miles following the Rams’ largest victory since a 94-50 win last December over NCAA DII opponent Dominican (Calif.) in another Bay-area tourney, the University of San Francisco’s Hilltop Challenge.
Most of that offensive flow ran through Green (19 points) and Eikmeier (18), who each finished 4-of-6 from long range in the contest for the Rams. Green also notched six rebounds and dished out five assists while recording no turnovers in 31 minutes of action.
“We defended well,” added Miles. “We were well prepared. Our guys had consistent effort and we rebounded well. We were mentally sharp all night.”
The Rams posted a 32-19 rebounding edge and combined to dish out 13 assists, while forcing nine SMU turnovers and shooting 52 percent overall, 53 percent from three-point range and going 14-of-15 (93.3 percent) from the free-throw line. The Mustangs shot just 38 percent from the floor, including 7-of-25 from long range and 17-of-27 from the charity stripe.
CSU’s defense held the Mustangs’ leading scorer and C-USA Player of the Year candidate, forward Robert Nyakundi, to just three points after the senior poured in 18 in their season-opening win over Division III McMurry last Friday. Freshman Jalen Jones led the Mustangs with 16 points in the contest.
The victory gives the Rams a third straight 2-0 start under Miles.
The tip for Tuesday evening’s game has yet to be determined, as Stanford will play the late contest regardless of the outcome of the second game. But no matter the opponent or the tip time, Miles and the Rams will be focused.
“It’s really exciting,” added Miles. “It will be a good matchup. That’s what we’re here for.”