The top two teams in the Mountain West Conference square off at The Pit on Wednesday night, as the Colorado State Rams come calling on the 15th-ranked New Mexico Lobos.
Both teams are having exceptional years, as Colorado State comes in with a 15-3 overall record and a 2-1 mark in conference, while New Mexico is 16-2 and sports a perfect 3-0 league ledger.
Since dropping a 79-72 decision in overtime at San Diego State in their Mountain West opener on Jan. 12, the Rams have secured a pair of victories over Air Force (79-40) and UNLV (66-61), both of which took place at home, raising CSU's mark in Fort Collins this season to a perfect 11-0. The Rams however, are just 2-3 in true road games.
The Lobos are in the midst of a three-game win streak, all of which were against league foes. The team's most recent victory came in a 79-74 overtime verdict at Boise State on Jan. 16, and UNM is surely happy to be back in Albuquerque where it is 9-1 this season. The Lobos are in the middle of a run against quality opponents that will also see them face San Diego State and Wyoming in the next week.
New Mexico owns a 69-43 series advantage over Colorado State, but the team split the season series last year with each winning on the road. The Lobos have never lost to the Rams at home under coach Steve Alford (5-0).
Colorado State is getting it done at both ends of the court this season, averaging 74.5 ppg while permitting just 59.6 ppg. There are four double-digit scorers in the fold, all of whom are starters, led by Colton Iverson's 14.4 ppg. Iverson is also one of the team's top rebounders with 9.0 rpg, trailing only Pierce Hornung's 10.1 rpg. The team as a whole is shooting 45.2 percent from the field, knocking down 34.1 percent of its 3-point tries along the way, while the opposition checks in at a mere .384 overall and .314 from long range. CSU dominates the glass to the tune of a +13.8 rebounding margin. Dorian Green was high man for the Rams in the recent win over UNLV, netting 24 points while handing out five assists and grabbing five rebounds. He hit four of the team's five treys in the game, but Colorado State was just 38.9 percent accurate from the floor overall. Greg Smith added 16 points, and Iverson pulled down 10 boards. A 19-9 edge in points from the foul line played a significant role for the Rams in the outcome.
Not quite as productive at either end of the court as their counterpart tonight, the Lobos are putting up 69.2 ppg while allowing 61.7 ppg. They don't shoot the ball all that well (.416), but do a good job at the charity stripe (.734). They play some pretty stingy defense in yielding just a .397 FG percentage to the opposition, while goading them into more than 14 turnovers per outing. Kendall Williams (14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg) is the team's leading scorer, and both Alex Kirk (12.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Tony Snell (12.1 ppg, 2.9 apg) give the Lobos some additional options. Snell hit for 22 points to help push New Mexico past Boise State last week, the team as a whole draining 9-of-21 3- point attempts while also logging a 24-15 edge in points from the foul line and taking advantage of 16 Bronco turnovers. Hugh Greenwood added 15 points and seven boards, Williams tallied 11 points to go with six assists, and Kirk tacked on 10 points while grabbing seven rebounds before fouling out.