The Rams are ranked!
For supporters young and old, it almost seems to good to be true.
Heck, this season seems too good to be true for those associated with Colorado State, who currently sits second in the magnificent Mountain West Conference. They've already set multiple school records – including the 26-game home winning streak and largest margin of victory over a conference foe – and have shown no signs of slowing down.
If fact, the Rams are only getting better as the season progresses, though head coach Larry Eustachy continues to acknowledge they'll “run out of time” before reaching their full potential. Without a doubt, the five senior starters are the driving force behind the team's superb success and each one has grown in his own way.
The name of the game for CSU is rebounding; they're hands-down the best boarding team in all of college basketball this season. The Rams' 42.4 rebounds per are No. 1, as is their +13.8 rebounding margin and offensive rebounding efficiency.
Pierce Hornung is an animal, going after loose basketballs by sacrificing himself to the parkay floor, catching elbows and dishing out pain as well. In CSU's last win over Nevada, Hornung had the flu and was limited to only three minutes of action; the team struggled to rebound and gain extra possessions. Luckily for the Rams, Eustachy said this week he expects Hornung to be fully ready to play Wednesday.
At 6'10”, center Colton Iverson has provided the much-needed size for Colorado State, and he uses all 260 pounds to boxout opponents for 9.7 boards per game. And starting small forward Greg Smith doesn't get enough credit for the shift in his fundamentals, turning to find opposing big men to put a body on before going for the basketball.
In this particular matchup against San Diego State (18-5, 6-3 MWC), rebounding is the one major advantage the Rams have, making it the key to the contest. They out-rebound the Aztecs by an average of 4.9 per game, and those extra five possessions could be the difference in what should be a close contest.
Yes, SDSU's scoring numbers (70.1 PPG, 59.1 PPGA) are very similar to CSU's (73.5, 59.7), and while the Rams win with physicality, the Aztecs do it with athleticism.
Junior guard Jamaal Franklin is an athletic freak of nature; he runs the break with the best of them and will throw down an emphatic dunk at a moment's notice. He leads the team in nearly every statistical category, scoring 17.5 while dishing out 3.4 assists per. Most amazing, he snags 9.5 rebounds per game despite his 6'5” size, which sounds eerily similar to the production of 6'5” Hornung.
When Franklin's not scoring, it's senior guard Chase Tapley, who is known for pulling up and knocking down outside jumpers. Slowing down at least one of those two extremely talented players will be a focus of Eustachy's defense, since they are the only two SDSU players averaging double-digit scoring.
Speaking of Eustachy's defense, it's been dominant as of late. In the Rams last seven games, they've allowed opponents to score a mere 57.4 points per; they've gone 6-1 over that time, losing only to No. 15 New Mexico in The Pit.
The massive matchup at Moby Arena tips off at 8 p.m. MT and is nearly sold out as of early Tuesday afternoon. It's the school's annual “Orange Out,” celebrating the history of Colorado State, when the Rams were known as the Aggies of Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College. CSU will be wearing their all orange “Aggies” jerseys and fans are encouraged to wear orange as well.
A win for Colorado State would be their fifth straight and 20th of the season, extend their school record home winning streak to 27 and it would keep the Rams in second place of the MW all alone.
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