Colorado State men’s basketball opens Mountain West play on Saturday, traveling to San Diego, Calif., to square off against preseason favorite No. 16/15 San Diego State at Viejas Arena.
The 13-2 Rams are riding a seven-game winning streak, including a run to the championship of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, and an 85-64 victory in the team’s most recent outing vs. St. Bonaventure last Saturday at Moby Arena.
San Diego State is also off to a 13-2 start to the 2012-13 season, after winning their conference opener at Fresno State (65-62) on Wednesday night. The No. 16/15-ranked Aztecs are 7-0 at home this season.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Aztecs is set for 6 p.m. MT/5 p.m. PT and the game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network with Steve Schlanger (play-by-play) and Blaine Fowler (analyst) calling all the action courtside.
The Rams and Aztecs split two regular-season meetings in 2011-12, each winning on their home court. SDSU also claimed a neutral-court victory over the Rams in the Semifinals of the 2012 MW tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
Voice of the Rams Brian Roth will have the call on the Colorado State Sports Network - 560 AM KLZ (Denver), 600 AM KCOL (Fort Collins), 105.5 FM KJAC (Fort Collins), 1010 AM KSIR (Fort Morgan) and 1100 AM KNZZ (Grand Junction).
Streaming audio (free) is available via Rams All-Access and live statistics can be viewed online via StatBroadcast at GoAztecs.com.
Rams quick hits
The 2012-13 season marks the 110th in the history of the Colorado State men’s basketball program. The Rams are 1,142-1,172 (.494) in 2,314 games all-time.
Colorado State enters the 2012-13 men’s basketball season under the direction of new head coach Larry Eustachy, in his 22nd season as a head coach at the NCAA Division I level.
The Colorado State basketball program is looking for its fourth-consecutive postseason appearance, and its second straight NCAA Tournament berth, in 2012-13.
The Rams return an experienced roster with seven letterwinners back form the 2011-12 season.
The Rams welcome a host of talented newcomers to the court this season, including Division I transfers Colton Iverson (Minnesota) and Daniel Bejarano (Arizona) who sat out 2011-12 per NCAA transfer rules.
In early August, the CSU basketball program spent five days together at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. Per NCAA rules, the team was allotted 10 days of practice leading up to the trip, and then played an exhibition contest against the Bahamas All-Stars, winning 95-80 behind a double-double effort (18 points, 14 rebounds) from Colton Iverson.
Colorado State enters Saturday’s game with a 13-2 record. The Rams opened the season 6-0, tying the program mark for best start established in 1970-71 and matched by the 2005-06 squad, and teams current mark (13-2), ties the program record for the best start through 15 games set during the 1953-54 season.
The Rams have also tied a program record by winning 22 straight home games at Moby Arena dating back to last season. The streak currently ranks fourth nationally behind Syracuse (33), Kansas (30) and South Dakota State (23).
Colorado State ranks as one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, and entered play this week leading the NCAA in rebounding margin with an average differential of 13.9 boards per game. The team has yet to be outrebounded in a game this year.
Colorado State has opened the 2012-13 campaign with a 2-2 record on the road, picking up tough road wins at Denver and at Washington, before falling in their last true two road outings at Colorado and UIC. The Rams were 3-9 on the road last year.
Overall, the Rams are 4-2 away from Moby Arena, having captured a pair of neutral-court victories over Portland and Virginia Tech en route to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic title, Dec. 22-23 at the Orleans Arena.
The Rams have been even more impressive at home, racking up a 9-0 mark and extending a record win streak at Moby Arena to 22 games. The streak ranks fourth nationally entering the Rams next home game on Wednesday vs. Air Force.
Colorado State recorded a school-record 13 non-conference victories in 2012-13, besting the mark of 11 set in 1997-98 and matched in 2002-03, 2005-06 and 2011-12.
Noting the Rams’ win streak
Colorado State enters Saturday’s contest against San Diego State riding a seven game win-streak, its second streak of at least six games this season.
It marks the first time in program history that the Rams recorded two win streaks of at least six games in the same year. The Rams won six straight games to open the season before dropping two road games (at Colorado and at UIC) in early December.
The Aztecs enter Saturday’s contest ranked 15th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 16th in the AP Top-25 after defeating Fresno State, 65-62, Wednesday on the road in their conference opener.
San Diego State is in the AP Top 25 for the 22nd consecutive week, a school record which is also the longest streak west of the Mississippi River.
The Aztecs own a 13-2 record, tied for the second best start through 15 games in school history.
SDSU will be the highest-ranked opponent the Rams have faced since the Rams’ played No. 12 Murray State in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
SDSU’s two losses have come against then No. 9 Syracuse (Nov. 11) and then No. 3 Arizona (Dec. 25).
San Diego State is 7-0 at home this season, with the closest margin of victory being 12 points (Texas Southern Dec. 3). SDSU has won nine straight in Viejas Arena.
SDSU has held its opponents to a field goal percentage of 40 percent or less in 11 games this season. They are 10-1 in those contests
The Aztecs and Rams have each faced CSU-Bakersfield this season, with CSU winning in Moby Arena 78-58 and SDSU coming out victorious in Viejas Arena 72-57.
Junior guard Jamaal Franklin, who was picked to defend his MW Player of the Year honors during the preseason, leads the team with 17.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Franklin and CSU’s Pierce Hornung (10.2) are the only Mountain West players to average double-digit rebounding entering Saturday’s matchup.
Senior guard Chase Tapley (14.9) and junior guard Xavier Thames (10.2) also average double-digit scoring for the Aztecs. Tapley was selected as second-team all MW at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Head Coach Steve Fisher has been at the helm with the Aztecs for the 14th seasons and has compiled a 271-162 record during that time including seven MW championships.
Series vs. San Diego State
Saturday’s game marks the 70th meeting between the two Mountain West foes. The Rams hold a 36-33 advantage over the Aztecs in the series.
SDSU claims a 21-12 record over CSU in San Diego, including nine straight.
The teams first met during the 1961-62 season in San Diego, with the Rams coming out victorious 71-57. The contest was only one of three in which the two teams were not in the same conference.
This will be the sixth consecutive meeting in which the Aztecs will be ranked in the national rankings. CSU is 1-4 in the previous five occasions, with the sole win coming at home last season, a 77-60 win over the then No. 13/12-ranked Aztecs.
The Rams last won in Viejas Arena on Feb. 1, 2003, 72-69.
Noting conference openers
The Rams have won three consecutive Mountain West openers, winning at Wyoming (83-73) in 2010, at home over the Cowboys (73-60) in 2011) and in double overtime over TCU (95-89) last season in Moby Arena.
CSU is 4-9 overall in Mountain West openers since the formation of the conference in 1999-2000.
Colorado State is 1-4 in MW openers on the road, with the sole win coming at Wyoming (83-73) in 2010).
A win over San Diego State will...
Give the Rams a conference-opening victory for the fourth consecutive season.
Run the Rams’ overall win streak to eight straight games. CSU’s seven-game win streak ranked tied for 17th nationally entering play this week.
Make the Rams 3-0 to begin the calendar year for the second year.
Improve CSU’s all-time record against SDSU to 37-33.
Be the first road win for the Rams against the Aztecs since the 2002-03 season.
Increase CSU’s overall record to 14-2, setting a school record for the best mark through 16 games. The mark would surpass the old record (13-3) set in 1953-54, and matched in 1968-69, 1989-90 and 1997-98.
Mark the Rams’ first road win over a ranked opponent since Dec. 29, 1989, a 78-67 victory over Dean Smith and No. 24-ranked North Carolina.
Non-conference wins record
Colorado State’s 85-64 victory over St. Bonaventure last Saturday secured the program’s 13 non-conference victory to open the 2012-13 season.
The 13 non-conference victories are a school record for the Rams. The team had previously captured 11 non-conference victories to start the 1997-98, 2002-03, 2005-06 and 2011-12 seasons, the fourth-best non-conference win percentage in program history, behind the 1997-98 (11-1; .917), 1953-54 (8-1; .889) and 1971-72 (7-1; .875) squads.
Hornung reaches top-10 rebounding mark
Colorado State senior F Pierce Hornung has reached the top-10 in the Rams’ all-time rebounding record book.
Hornung enters Saturday’s contest vs. San Diego State tied for 10th (with Larry Hoffner; 1957-60) on the Rams’ all-time list with 638 career rebounds - just four away from No. 9 Rich Gregory (642 from 1955-58) and 25 short of No. 8 Tim hall (663 from 1972-75).
Upon passing Hoffner, who was listed at 6-4 during his time at CSU, Hornung will become the only player on the Rams’ top-10 rebounding chart that is shorter than 6-6.
Rams boast NCAA’s top rebounding tandem
Colorado State’s senior frontcourt of Pierce Hornung and Colton Iverson ranks as the No. 1 rebounding tandem in the country, combining to average 19.1 rebounds per game entering Saturday’s contest at San Diego State.
Hornung leads the Rams, pulling down 10.2 rebounds per contest, while Iverson pulls down 8.9 boards per game.
Below is a list of the top-5 rebounding tandems in the country:
A winning era
CSU’s fourth-year seniors – Dorian Green, Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith – have been a part of 68 wins during their careers at Colorado State (entering Saturday’s game at San Diego State).
That total, 15 games into their senior season, is now tied for 11th in program history for wins in a four-year period, just one victories away from the top 10 (69 wins) recorded from 1960-61 to 1963-64 and matched from 1985-86 to 1988-89.
The school record for wins in a four-year period is 81 victories from 1987-88 to 1990-91. The team would need 26 wins in 2012-13 to tie that record, and entered this year 20 wins away from the top-5 on that list of most successful four-year periods in program history.
The importance of road wins
CSU Head Coach Larry Eustachy has stressed the importance of Road wins to his team since stepping on campus for the first time last April.
In 2011-12, under Tim Miles, the Rams earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney despite a 3-9 road record.
Entering the 2012-13 season, Eustachy was 84-152 (.356) in his career in road contests, but his win percentage on the road jumps to .525 (42-38) in seasons that he has led his programs to the postseason.
In four seasons that ended in NCAA Tournament appearances at Southern Miss (2011-12), Iowa State (1999-00 and 2000-01) and Utah State (1997-98), Eustachy’s programs were an impressive 26-20 (.565) on the road.
Colorado State is 2-2 on the road this season, with back-to-back road wins at Denver (60-53) and at Washington (73-55) Nov. 21 and Nov. 24, respectively. It marked the 15th time in program history that CSU has won its first two road games.
The Rams suffered their first road loss Dec. 5 at rival Colorado (70-61), before falling at Illinois-Chicago (55-64) on Dec. 8.
The Colorado State men’s basketball team returns to the friendly confines of Moby Arena for a mid-week tilt against in-state rival Air Force.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Falcons is set for 7 p.m. MT on Wednesday.
The Rams swept the Falcons last season, downing the Falcons 67-49 at Moby Arena, and coming away with a 75-65 win at Clune Arena.