If only this game of basketball was five minutes longer, CSU may have pulled off the biggest upset in the Mountain West Conference thus far this season.
But instead, the men fell five points short, 67-62, of knocking off the conference-leading Utah Utes (16-3 overall, 6-0 MWC) and their six-year win streak in league games at home. CSU (9-11, 1-5) was the last team to steal a victory in the Huntsman Center, back in the 1993-94 season.
The Rams were on the verge of silencing the Utah crowd once again via the shooting of junior guard Brian Greene, who saw 18 of his game-high 29 points come in the second half. After the Utes, winners of their last 13 games, led by as much as 10 in the first half and 15 in the second, Greene was the key reason that margin was cut to four in the waning seconds of the game.
But like CSU’s game with New Mexico last Monday and its contest with Colorado earlier in the year, the team couldn’t finish the upset bid.
“We played with big hearts, big emotion,” CSU head coach Dale Layer said. “We were physical. We were aggressive. They made big plays, big shots.”
Countering Greene in Saturday’s shootout was Utes’ junior forward Britton Johnsen with 28 points. His senior brother Jeff was the only other Ute in double figures with 15.
CSU junior guards Joe Macklin and Andy Birley both chipped in with 10 points apiece, a career-high for Macklin.
The Rams stayed the weekend in Utah in preparation for tonight’s game in Provo against Brigham Young (13-6, 3-3), which on Saturday knocked off second-place Wyoming, 85-70. This comes as a surprise considering the fact the Cougars fell to last-place Air Force 74-64 on Jan. 21.
Being at home, though, appears to be all BYU needs to play well. The team is 12-0 at home this year, opposed to 1-6 on the road. And being on the road appears to be what ails CSU, which has lost eight times away from home.
But should the Rams shoot as well as they did against Utah – they were 58
percent from the field, compared to just 38 percent in their previous game against UNM – a win in Provo is not far-fetched. n