No. 22/21 Colorado State returns to the friendly confines of Moby Arena for a showdown with 16th-ranked New Mexico, a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the Mountain West conference championship race.
The 21-5 (8-3 MW) Rams, ranked 22nd in the AP poll and 21st in the USA Today top-25 poll, have gone 6-1 since losing at New Mexico on Jan. 23. The Rams rattled off six straight victories, before falling in their most recent road outing, 61-59, at UNLV on Wednesday. CSU is 14-0 at home in 2012-13, including 6-0 at Moby Arena, and the team has won 27 straight games at home, the third longest active streak in the nation.
No. 16/16 New Mexico (22-4, 9-2 MW) has gone 5-2 since defeating CSU, 66-61 at The Pit on Jan. 23. The Lobos are 2-2 on the road during that stretch, having fallen at San Diego State (55-34) on Jan. 26, and at UNLV (64-55) on Feb. 9.
Tipoff between the Rams and the Lobos is set for 2 p.m. MT at Moby Arena, and the game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.
New Mexico captured the first meeting between the programs, holding on for a 66-61 victory at The Pit on Jan. 23. The game was the Rams' last loss, as CSU has rattled off six straight wins - entering Wednesday's tilt at UNLV - since the team's setback vs. the Lobos.
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 1,150-1,175 (.494) in 2,325 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 Wednesday's game with an 21-5 record (8-3 MW), the program's second consecutive 20-win season and the eighth in program history. The Rams are now approaching the program record for victories in a season, 23, set in 1988-89.
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 21-5 mark is second in program history behind the 1953-54 squad which posted a 22-4 mark through 26 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 (38) and South Dakota State (30).
Colorado State ranks as the No. 1 rebounding team in the nation, pulling down 42.3 boards per game, and entered play this week leading the NCAA in rebounding margin with an average differential of 13.8 rebounds per game. The team has outrebounded its opponents in 25 of 26 contests this season.
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' game on Saturday vs. No. 16/16 New Mexico.
Colorado State is 5-5 on the road in 2012-13, the most road wins for the Rams since going 6-5 away from home, including a win at UNLV (78-63), in 2010-11. The Rams have two road games remaining on the 2012-13 schedule.
Overall, the Rams are 7-5 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 entered play this week as one of six teams in the country to rank in the top-50 in the nation in both scoring offense (42nd) and scoring defense (47th). CSU joins Florida, Louisville, Southern Miss, Syracuse and Weber State.
About New Mexico
The #16/16 Lobos (22-4) enter Moby Arena with a league-leading 9-2 mark in conference play, one game ahead of Colorado State.
New Mexico is coming off two straight victories over Boise State (60-50) and Fresno State (54-48), and has now won five of its last six.
UNM is 6-3 on the road, with losses at UNLV (Feb. 9), San Diego State (Jan. 26) and Saint Louis (Dec. 31).
The Lobos have been dominant on the defensive end of the court, allowing their opponents just 57.8 points per game on 38.3 percent shooting during conference play; UNM leads the MW in both categories.
UNM also ranks first in steals (7.0) and turnover margin (+2.27) in the Mountain West.
The Rams (+8.5) and Lobos (+6.2) rank first and second, respectively, in scoring margin.
Despite their current first-place standing the Lobos do not have a player leading the league in any major statistical category.
Mountain West preseason all-conference selection Tony Snell leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 points during league play.
Sophomore center Alex Kirk is tied with Pierce Hornung (8.5) for third in the MW in rebounding. Kirk also ranks third in blocked shots (2.2).
Head Coach Steve Alford is in his sixth season with the Lobos, he has compiled a 148-50 record while at the school. Alford is one of five Division I head coaches to have his son, Kory, on the roster.
Series vs. New Mexico
Saturday's matchup between the Rams and Lobos marks the 113th in the series between the programs, dating back to the first meeting - a 53-39 CSU victory - on Dec. 20, 1940 in Albuquerque.
The Lobos hold a 70-43 all-time series advantage, despite trailing 31-24 in games played in Fort Collins.
Colorado State has won two straight against New Mexico at Moby Arena, 71-63 vs. 2012 and 68-62 in 2011.
The last time CSU won three straight at home against the Lobos came between 1988-89 and 1990-91 seasons. All three of those victories came by five points or less.
Saturday marks the third consecutive meeting between the two schools in which New Mexico is ranked in either national top-25 poll.
The last five meetings outside of the Mountain West tournament have been won by the home team. The Rams and Lobos met in the opening round of the 2011 MW championships, a 62-60 New Mexico victory.
As charter members of the Mountain West, the Rams and Lobos have competed 28 times since the 1999-2000 season, with UNM holding a 24-5 advantage.
A win over New Mexico will...
Move Colorado State into a tie with New Mexico for first place in the Mountain West regular-season championship race with four games left in the regular season.
Mark the third straight year the Rams and Lobos have split their season series; extending the home-team's winning streak to six straight games.
Improve CSU's record against UNM to 44-70 all-time and 32-24 in Fort Collins.
Be the first time the Rams have won three straight at home against the Lobos since the 1989, 1990 and 1991 seasons.
Extend the Rams' home win streak vs. ranked opponents to six straight games. The streak began last season with a 77-60 victory over then-No. 13/12 San Diego State.
Give the Rams' their 22nd victory, matching the second-most wins in school history. The 1953-54 and 1987-88 teams also recorded 22 victories, each advancing to postseason play.
Pull the Rams within two 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.
Make the 2012-13 squad the fastest CSU team to reach 22 wins in a season. The 1953-54 team won its 22nd on Feb. 27.
Extend the program record for consecutive home wins to 28. The streak ranks as the third-longest in the nation.
Improve Colorado State's record to 6-0 at home to begin conference play for the second consecutive year. Prior to last season the Rams hadn't started conference play 6-0 at home since the 1961-62 season when they competed in the Mountain States Conference.
Move CSU's overall record to 22-5, tying the 1953-54 team for the best mark through 27 games.
Rams in elite company
Entering play this week, CSU is one of six programs nationally to rank in the top-50 in both scoring offense (42nd) and scoring defense (47th).
Other schools to rank among the national leaders on both lists are: Florida (36th offense/3rd defense), Louisville (40/22), Southern Miss. (39/43), Syracuse (33/30) and Weber State (22/50).
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 overall 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 the Rams' Feb .13 victory over San Diego State, CSU 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 3.47 ranks fourth nationally behind Valparaiso (3.78), Middle Tennessee St. (3.52) and Ohio (3.49).
Combined, the top four schools are 85-22 (.794) this season.
Hornung among nation's top O-rebounders
Colorado State senior F Pierce Hornung ranks as the No. 4 offensive rebounder in the nation entering Saturday's game vs. New Mexico.
Hornung, a 6-5 product from Arvada, Colo. Pulls down an average of 4.3 offensive rebounds per game, well ahead of the MW's No. 2 performer on the offensive glass, Boise State's Ryan Watkins (3.32 per game).
Nationally, Hornung ranks just behind South Alabama's Augustine Rubit (4.46), Notre Dame's Jack Cooley (4.41), and North Carolina-Wilmington's Keith Rendleman (4.33) and ahead of UC-Santa Barbara's Alan Williams (4.18) who rounds out the top five.
Hornung's 103 offensive rebounds in 24 games, have accounted for 121 second-chance points, or 34 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 (2.96) and Greg Smith (2.5) rank tied for 74th and tied 195th 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. 21.
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 19.0 rebounds per game entering Saturday's contest vs. New Mexico.
Iverson leads the Rams averaging 9.6 rebounds per game but Hornung is just behind him pulling down 9.4, making the duo the only teammates in the country averaging more than 9.0 rebounds per game apiece.
That total is now fifth in program history for wins in a four-year period, eclipsing the win total put up by the program from 1994-95 to 1997-98 (75).
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.
Streaking at home
Colorado State's current 27-game home-court win streak ranks third nationally entering the Rams' next home game on Saturday vs. No. 16/16 New Mexico.
The Rams' Nov. 15 victory over Chadron State (93-50), the team's 15th straight at home, established a new Moby Arena record for the program, which the Rams have since extended to 27 games.
The Rams' Jan. 16 victory over Air Force (79-40), the team's 23rd straight at home, established a new program record, eclipsing the old mark set from 1960-62 when the program called South College Gym home.
The Rams' last home loss came Nov. 19, 2011 against Southern Miss.
No. 22/21 Colorado State (21-5, 8-3 MW) remains at Moby Arena for its penultimate home game, hosting Fresno State (9-16, 3-9).
Tipoff between the Rams and the Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. MT at Moby Arena. The game will be broadcast via online streaming video through Rams All-Access at CSURams.com.
Colorado State held on for the 74-63 victory in the first matchup between the programs at Fresno State's Save Mart Center on Jan. 26. The game was the first of three straight MW road wins for the Rams, and started a six-game league win streak that was snapped in CSU's loss at UNLV on Wednesday.