White-out, near sold out crowd, a two-season long home winning streak on the line.
This was a special Saturday and Moby Arena was electric as the game tipped off, with the energy only increasing throughout the first half.
That's because their Colorado State Rams (record) played with extra effort, feeding off the home crowd, which was willing them to a lead in the first 20 minutes. Dorian Green shot hot from outside, draining his first three buckets from downtown. After that, it was all about effort; Pierce Hornung and Colton Iverson hit the boards hard, and the Rams ran up a 10 point lead. But they squandered it with sloppy play of fouls and turnovers to go into the break up only 31-26.
A lightning quick 6-0 run by UNLV to start the second half erased CSU's lead completely, and it was a competitive back-and-forth battle the rest of the way. Greg Smith was the man for the Rams in the second half, scoring _ of his total _ points. His huge break away layup and-one put the Rams up 45-43 with 9:50 to play, and it got the Moby Maniacs enthused.
But the Rebels refused to quit, fighting with physical play and knocking down big shots when they needed them most. Freshman Anthony Bennett's 17-foot jumper put UNLV up 56-54, then Bryce Dejean-Jones' three made the Rebels' lead 59-56. Iverson knocked down two clutch free throws though, and CSU was down 59-58 with three minutes to go.
Then Green, who was so huge in the first half, grabbed a big rebound, turned it up court and drew a foul – hitting his own two free throws for the 60-59 lead. On the ensuing possession, Hornung forced a steal and dove on the ground for the ball, Green took it in, was fouled and hit two more from the charity stripe and CSU led 62-59 and after UNLV missed a three, he grabbed the rebound. Fittingly, his final two free throws were gave the Rams the five-point margin they eventually won by, 66-61.
It was all about Green Saturday night, who finished with a game-high 24 points with five rebounds and five assists. Greg Smith had 16 points while Iverson's 10 rebounds were a game-high.
For the Rams, it was their closest rebounding battle all season, barely edging out UNLV 36-34 while they forced the Rebels to turn the ball over 13 times.
With the win, Colorado State improves to 15-3 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West. UNLV falls to 15-4, 2-2.
It was also CSU's 24th straight home win, extending their school record which was set Wednesday against Air Force.
Next up is a trip to New Mexico (16-3, 3-0) and The Pit Wednesday with tip-off against the No. 19 Lobos coming at 6 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
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