The Colorado State men’s basketball team travels south on I-25 for a conference road matchup with the Air Force Falcons (15-8, 6-4 MW).
The 20-4 (7-2 MW) Rams, ranked 24th in both the AP and USA Today top-25 polls, are coming off of a 66-60 home win over San Diego State, led by a 16-point, six-assist effort from senior point guard Dorian Green. The win allowed the Rams to keep pace, a half game behind conference-leading No. 19/18 New Mexico.
Air Force (15-8, 6-4 MW) are tied for third in the Mountain West standings and have won seven straight at Clune Arena heading into Saturday’s matchup. The Falcons’ Michael Lyons tallied a game-high 27 points in the team’s 71-56 rout of UNLV.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Falcons is set for 2 p.m. MT at Clune Arena, and the game will be televised on Altitude.
After falling to the Rams, 79-40 at Moby Arena on Jan. 16, the Falcons rattled off five straight victories, including a non-conference win over New Orleans, and has won six of eight overall in the last four weeks.
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 GameTracker at CSURams.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 1,149-1,174 (.495) in 2,323 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 game against the Bahamas All-Stars, winning 95-80 behind a double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) from Colton Iverson.
Colorado State enters Saturday’s game with an 20-4 record (7-2 MW), the program’s second consecutive 20-win season and the eighth in program history.
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 reached 13-2 to close non-conference play, tying the program’s best 15-game mark, with the 1953-54 team, to close non-conference play. CSU’s 20-4 mark ties the 1953-54 squad for best record in school history through 24 games.
The Rams have built a program record by winning 27 straight home games at Moby Arena dating back to Nov. 19, 2011, a loss to Southern Miss. The streak currently ranks third nationally behind Syracuse (37) and South Dakota State (29).
Colorado State ranks as the No. 1 rebounding team in the nation, pulling down 42.5 boards per game, and enters Saturday’s game at Air Force leading the NCAA in rebounding margin with an average differential of 13.7 rebounds per game. The team has yet to be outrebounded in a game this year.
The Rams have been impressive at home in 2012-13, racking up a 14-0 mark and extending a record win streak at Moby Arena to 27 games. The streak ranks third nationally entering the Rams’ Feb. 23 game vs. New Mexico.
Colorado State is 4-4 on the road in 2012-13, eclipsing the team’s road wins total from 2011-12 (3-9) with four road games remaining on the schedule entering Saturday’s game at Air Force.
Overall, the Rams are 6-4 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.
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.
Colorado State enters Saturday’s game as one of 10 teams in the country to rank in the top-60 in the nation in both scoring offense (56th) and scoring defense (37th). CSU joins Indiana, Florida, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan, Southern Miss, Syracuse and Weber State
About Air Force
The Falcons enter Saturday’s contest tied for third place in the Mountain West standings (with San Diego State), behind second-place Colorado State, with a 15-8 overall record and including a 6-4 mark in league action.
The Falcons are coming off of a 71-56 home win over UNLV, and have won eight straight at Clune Arena dating back to a 72-69 setback vs. Wichita State on Dec. 2.
The Rams and Falcons rank first and third, respectively, in scoring offense during the 2012-13 Mountain West season. CSU is averaging 70.3 points per game, while Air Force has scored 66.7 per contest.
AFA leads the league in free-throw (81.3 percent) and field goal percentage (46.6 percent) through conference play. The Falcons also rank a close second to Boise State in three point percentage (36.9 percent).
Air Force has held its opponents to just 28.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc, the best mark in the MW.
CSU and AFA sit on opposite ends of the offensive rebounding spectrum. The Rams lead the conference grabbing 14.3 per game, while the Falcons rank last in the conference averaging only 5.8 offensive boards.
Senior guard Michael Lyons has been the Mountain West’s fifth-highest scorer through 10 games. Lyons is averaging 16.6 per outing, while shooting 47.4 percent from the field; the third-best percentage in the league.
Senior forward Mike Fitzgerald also ranks in the MW’s top 10 scoring list. Fitzgerald is averaging 14.1 per game, while shooting the second-best free throw percentage (86.3) in the Mountain West.
The majority of Fitzgerald and Lyons’ scoring has come from the help of senior guard Todd Fletcher who averaging 4.1 assists per game, the fourth-best mark in conference play. Fletcher’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.4 also ranks in as fourth in the MW.
Head Coach Dave Pilipovich, who is in his first full season with the Falcons after taking over midway through the 2011-12 campaign, owns a 17-14 record at the school.
Pilipovich’s son Kyle is a student manager with the Rams.
Series vs. Air Force
Saturday’s game between the Rams and the Falcons marks the 101st in the series between the programs, dating back to the first meeting - a 70-62 Falcons’ home win - on Jan. 19, 1957.
Colorado State holds a 69-31 advantage in the all-time series, and a 28-19 mark in games played in Colorado Springs.
CSU is 15-14 against the Falcons as members of the Mountain West conference.
Colorado State has won three straight against the Falcons, and eight of the last 10 matchups dating back to the 2008-09 season.
CSU has won three of the last four meetings in Clune Arena. The Rams last setback in Colorado Springs came on Feb. 26, 2011, a 74-57 AFA trumping.
The Rams turned in a dominating performance against the Falcons in their first matchup of the season, winning 79-40 at Moby Arena, the Rams’ largest margin of victory ever in a Mountain West game.
A win over Air Force will...
Move the Rams’ record against Air Force to 71-62 and 29-19 in Falcon territory.
Be the fourth straight win over AFA . CSU will have also won nine of the last 11 matchups.
Mark Colorado State’s fourth win in five years at Clune Arena.
Be the Rams’ 21st victory, surpassing last year’s win total and matching the fourth-most wins in school history.
Pull the Rams within three victories of setting the school record for most wins in a season. The 1988-89 squad totaled 23 wins en route to a Western Athletic Conference championship and trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Improve the Rams’ current win streak to six games, the third time this year the Rams have strung together six or more wins in a row.
Make CSU 8-2 in conference play for the first time as a member of the Mountain West. The last time CSU began league play 8-2 was as a member of the Mountain States Conference during the 1961-62 season.
Move CSU’s overall record to 21-4, tying the 1953-54 team for the best mark through 25 games.
Make the 2012-13 squad the fastest CSU team to reach 21 victories in a season. The 1953-54 team won its 21st game on Feb. 26.
Be the third consecutive win on the road. The Rams last won three straight away from Moby between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16, 2011 (Utah, Wyoming, TCU).
Rams in elite company
Entering Saturday’s game at Air Force, CSU is one of 10 programs nationally to rank in the top-60 in both scoring offense (56th) and scoring defense (37th).
Other schools to rank among the national leaders on both lists are: Indiana (2nd offense/59th defense), Florida (42/4), Gonzaga (8/58), Kansas (T-49/44), Louisville (38/28), Michigan (26/53), Southern Miss. (T-47/36), Syracuse (37/27) and Weber State (22/52).
20 and counting
Colorado State captured its 20th victory of the season Feb. 13 vs. San Diego State, marking the second-consecutive season with 20 victories, and the eighth overrall in program history.
Five of the previous seven 20-win seasons have ended in NCAA tournament berths, while the 1996-97 Rams finished 20-9 and made a trip to the NIT. The 1997-98 squad also finished 20-9 but did not play in the postseason.
CSU’s school record for victories in a season is 23 set during the 1988-89 season.
Noting Eustachy’s first year in MW
Having led Colorado State to the 20-victory plateau following Wednesday’s victory over San Diego State, Rams’ head coach Larry Eustachy became the seventh head coach in MW history to accomplish that feat in his first year in the league.
Other MW head coaches to have 20-win seasons in their inaugural campaigns are: Ray Giacoletti (29-6 in 2004-05 at Utah), Dave Rice (26-9 in 2011-12 at UNLV), Jeff Bzdelik (24-7 in 2005-06 at Air Force), Steve Alford (24-9 in 2007-08 at New Mexico), Larry Shyatt (21-12 in 2011-12 at Wyoming) and Dave Rice (20-9 in 2005-06 at BYU).
Colorado State ranks among the nation’s most experienced teams, and is the top-rated team in the Mountain West in terms of average class year per minute played, according to StatSheet.com.
The Rams average of 3.46 ranks fourth in the country behind Valparaiso (3.77), Middle Tennessee State (3.51) and Ohio (3.48).
Combined, the top four schools have a 80-20 record (.800) record.
Hornung among nation’s top O-rebounders
Colorado State senior F Pierce Hornung ranks as the No. 3 offensive rebounder in the nation entering Saturday’s game at Air Force.
Hornung, a 6-5 product from Arvada, Colo. Pulls down an average of 4.33 offensive rebounds per game, well ahead of the MW’s No. 2 performer on the offensive glass, Boise State’s Ryan Watkins (3.4 per game).
Nationally, Hornung ranks just behind Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley (4.48), and South Alabama’s Augustine Rubit (4.39), and ahead of North Carolina-Wilmington’s Keith Rendleman (4.2) and Siena’s O.D. Anosike (4.08) who round out the top five.
Hornung’s 95 offensive rebounds in 22 games, have accounted for 109 second chance points, or 32 percent of the Rams’ total second-chance points in those contests.
More on offensive boards
In addition to Hornung’s prowess of the offensive glass, senior frontcourt mates Colton Iverson (3.04) and Greg Smith (2.6) rank 60 and tied for 165 respectively, in offensive boards per game.
Colorado State is the only team in the country to have three players listed in the top 200, through games played Feb. 14.
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 Air Force.
Iverson leads the Rams, pulling down 9.8 rebounds per game, while Hornung averages 9.3, making the duo the only teammates in the country average more than 9.0 rebounds per game apiece.
A winning era
CSU’s fourth-year seniors – Dorian Green, Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith – have been a part of 75 wins during their careers at Colorado State (entering Saturday’s game at Air Force).
That total is now tied for fifth in program history for wins in a four-year period, matching the win total put up by the program from 1994-95 to 1997-98.
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.
The school record for wins in a single season is 23 set during the 1988-89 campaign.
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.
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 4-4 on the road this season, following the Rams’ last road outing, a 73-69 victory at Nevada.
In 2011-12, under Tim Miles, the Rams earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney despite a 3-9 road record.
The Colorado State men’s basketball plays the second of back-to-back road games, traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., for a matchup against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Rebs is set for 8 p.m. MT at the Thomas & Mack Center, and the game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
After falling to the Rams, 66-61 at Moby Arena on Jan. 19, the Runnin’ Rebels have gone 3-3 in league play, winning each of their home games vs. Wyoming (62-50), Nevada (66-54) and New Mexico (64-55).