Still undefeated at home, the 22nd-ranked Colorado State Rams try to hold down the fort at Moby Arena on Saturday afternoon as they host 16th-ranked New Mexico in a Mountain West Conference showdown between the two top teams in the standings.
Colorado State, which is currently in second place in the MWC with an 8-3 mark, has the luxury of being at home for this contest where they have had more success than any other team in the league. In fact, not only are the Rams a perfect 14-0 in their own building, they've rattled off 27 straight home wins, which is third-longest streak in the nation.
Unfortunately the Rams, who are back in the national rankings this season after a very long absence, were on the road in Las Vegas earlier this week where they challenged the Runnin' Rebels and came up short in a 61-59 final at the Thomas & Mack Center. The defeat snapped a six-game win streak for CSU.
As for the Lobos, they too recently fell to UNLV on the road in Sin City earlier this month, but have bounced back to claim wins over Fresno State and Boise State. The latest victory was a 60-50 triumph over the Broncos at home last weekend, which means not only are the Lobos still in first place in the standings with a 9-2 mark, they've also had a week to enjoy their status as well.
The first meeting of the season between these two teams took place in The Pit where the hosts posted a 66-61 victory in order to remain perfect in league play after four games at the time. Overall, New Mexico owns a 70-43 edge in the all-time series, but Colorado State maintains a 30-21 advantage in games played in Fort Collins.
By no means was it a pretty effort, but it was a win nonetheless for the Lobos last weekend as they shot just 34.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over 14 times versus Boise State. Cameron Bairstow paced four players in double figures with his 16 points, followed by Tony Snell with 12, Jamal Fenton 11 points off the bench and Kendall Williams 10 for the Lobos. Alex Kirk tallied only six points, but he was still a force in the paint with 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
In conference games, the Lobos are limiting the opposition to just 57.8 ppg on 38.3 percent shooting from the field. New Mexico has also benefited from those teams shooting a mere 85-of-134 (.634) at the free-throw line as well, which means the Lobos have outscored league foes at the stripe by 70 points in 11 contests. Snell (12.3 ppg), Kirk (10.9 ppg) and Williams (10.5 ppg) all have a hand in the offense on a regular basis, with Kirk also clearing 8.5 rpg and rejecting a total of 24 shots to pace the team in those departments.
The game against UNLV came down to the wire a few nights back and while the Rams had a chance to grab the win in the waning moments, they were unable to make it happen. While the Runnin' Rebels were willing to use six players off the bench, CSU put a total of only seven players on the floor and perhaps suffered because of it. Colton Iverson led the way for the visitors with 14 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Daniel Bejarano and Wes Eikmeier with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as the team shot just 3-of-17 beyond the arc.
Over the course of 11 league bouts, Colorado State has managed to limit the competition to 62.5 ppg, giving the Rams a scoring advantage of 8.5 ppg stemming mostly from their efforts at the free-throw line. Dorian Green heads a list of five players, all starters, scoring in double figures with his 13.3 ppg, although Eikmeier is close behind with 13.2 ppg, and Iverson tallies 12.1 ppg to go along with 10.5 rpg. Green, who has combined with Eikmeier to knock down 36 3-pointers in league play, is also first on the unit with 52 assists as he does his best to get his teammates involved in the action.