The CSU men’s basketball team is possibly at its lowest point of
a roller coaster season.
The Rams (8-7 overall, 0-2 Mountain West Conference) started
Winter Break with an embarrassing 84-67 loss at in-state rival the
University of Denver. CSU then went on a four-game winning streak
highlighted by an amazing last-second 71-69 upset against then-No.
21 Purdue on Dec. 30. The game ended with two 3-pointers in the
final 0.7 seconds by point guard Micheal Morris to win the
However, the Rams went into Monday night’s 10 p.m. game at Utah
on a three-game losing steak, including an 82-53 blowout loss to
Brigham Young in Provo, Utah, Saturday. Check Wednesday’s Collegian
for the CSU-Utah game recap.
Nelson, CSU’s leading scorer and preseason player of the year in
the Mountain West Conference, suffered a knee sprain in the Rams
82-75 loss at Montana State on Jan. 5. The 7-foot, 225-pound junior
has battled injury problems throughout his career at CSU.
“This is an unfortunate injury for Matt Nelson and for our
team,” said head coach Dale Layer in a release.
Nelson sat out the Rams 65-57 loss to Air Force on Jan. 12 and
only played four minutes with 0 points and 0 rebounds against
Without Nelson’s presence inside, the Rams have struggled with
scoring. CSU shot a dismal 33.9 percent from the floor against BYU.
Shooting guard Jon Rakiecki, who the Rams count on for long-range
shooting, went 0-for-10 shooting 3-pointers.
The Rams have also missed the services of Morris against Air
Force and BYU because of a strained hamstring he suffered at
Morris played hero in the game being called “the miracle at
Moby” by the CSU athletic department. The Rams blew a 13-point
second half lead to Purdue and were down four points when the
Boilermakers committed a lane violation on a free throw with 6.9
seconds left. Morris raced down the court and hit a 3-pointer with
0.7 seconds left. CSU forward Matt Williams tipped the ensuing
inbounds pass right to Morris who caught and shot the ball in one
motion. The ball went in at the buzzer for the improbable
“Coach said to make a steal and shoot it in one motion,” Morris
said after the game. “Oh, man, this is an unbelievable feeling. To
make a shot like that at the buzzer and with all the pandemonium
with the fans, wow.”
The CSU athletic department sent the shoes Morris wore at the
game to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.,
where they will be displayed, according to a department
CSU had gained confidence going into the Purdue game with two
wins in the state of Florida, beating Stetson University 79-70 on
Dec. 20 and the University of South Florida 66-65 on Dec. 22. They
followed the Purdue win with perhaps their most impressive
performance of the year, blowing out Pepperdine 91-65 Jan. 3 at the
Pepsi Center in Denver. The Rams will return to the Pepsi Center in
March to compete in the MWC tournament.
“Now we’re pretty much familiar with the place,” Nelson said
after the Pepperdine game. “It’ll definitely be a boost for us when
we come (for the tournament).”
However, if the Rams hope to have any shot of repeating as
conference tournament champions, they will have to start playing
much better in MWC games. Their next game is against San Diego
State at 7 p.m. Saturday at Moby Arena.