In arguably the biggest game of the season thus far, the CSU men’s basketball
team will take on the Wyoming Cowboys Saturday night in Moby Arena.
The Rams (13-4 overall, 2-0 Mountain West Conference) will not only be playing to keep a perfect conference record intact, but will also attempt to preserve their 14-game home winning streak, the third longest in school history.
However, CSU will be up against the defending MWC Champions, and the Cowboys (14-3, 2-0) have won the last five meetings between the two teams, including a 72-69 overtime win in Fort Collins last season.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Rams’ head coach Dale Layer said during his weekly radio show. “They’re the class of the conference until someone knocks them off. It should be a sellout crowd with all the fans from Wyoming coming down, too.”
As of Thursday, approximately 500 reserved-seating tickets remained for the 7 p.m. game, indicating Moby Arena’s Green and Gold will be tainted with the Brown and Gold of the Wyoming faithful making the trip down from Laramie.
The Rams have won their last two games, both against MWC opponents, including last Saturday’s nail-biting 51-49 victory over Air Force. Statistically, the
Rams are dominating the conference, ranking first in scoring offense, rebounding
margin and blocked shots.
Even more impressive, the Rams are the NCAA’s top-shooting team, leading the nation in field goal percentage at an astounding 52.4 percent. Four Ram players are currently averaging more than 10 points per game, including forward Brian Greene, who was named the MWC Player of the Week Jan. 20 for the second time this season.
CSU will have to find a way to defend Wyoming senior guard Donta Richardson, who is averaging 16.5 points per game. Prior to his dismal four-point
performance in the Cowboy’s 46-44 defeat of Air Force, Richardson had scored 20
or more points in four straight games.
“Wyoming is a good team, they’ve had the best record (in conference) for the
last few years,” CSU freshman guard Shelton Johnson said. “We just have to play hard
and defend our home court.”
One of the more intriguing match-ups in the game will be the battle of the big
men: the Rams’ 7-foot Matt Nelson versus the Cowboys’ 6-10 Uche Nsonwu-Amadi from Nigeria. While Nelson is leading the MWC in field goal percentage, Nsonwu-Amadi is the only player in the conference to average a double-double. Whoever wins
the battle in the post could ultimately decide the outcome of the game.
Saturday’s showdown is the 194th meeting between CSU and Wyoming, and the Cowboys currently lead the series 117-76, and also hold the edge in the series in Fort Collins, 46-41.
“It’s a big home game for us, but we know the crowd will be behind us,” freshman guard Micheal Morris said. “At home, it seems like the crowd’s always behind us and everything goes our way.”