Seven-foot center Matt Nelson returned in a big way for Big
Monday, but Brigham Young center Rafael Araujo matched Nelson
basket for basket, and BYU handed the CSU men’s basketball team a
79-73 loss Monday night at Moby Arena.
Nelson, CSU’s leading scorer, scored 24 points off the bench in
his return from a sprained right knee. But Araujo answered Nelson
all night, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
“The knee felt fine,” Nelson said after the game. “I surprised
myself with how I played and hopefully I’ll continue to play like
The difference came on two big BYU runs, one in each half.
The game, which started at 10 p.m. because ESPN televised it as
part of the channel’s Big Monday tripleheader, gave BYU (16-7
overall, 6-4 Mountain West Conference), its fourth straight win,
while the Rams (11-12, 3-7) lost their fourth straight conference
Behind five early points from freshman point guard Dwight
Boatner, the Rams jumped out to a 19-8 lead during the first 8
minutes and 35 seconds of the game. Boatner finished with 10
However, the Cougars responded with a 20-2 run in the next 5:16,
right after Nelson entered the game for the first. The Rams
committed eight first-half turnovers, many while attempting to get
the ball to Nelson inside. He had not played since Jan. 26 against
Nevada – Las Vegas.
CSU also let the Cougars pull down eight first-half offensive
rebounds. BYU turned the mistakes into easy layups. Araujo had five
steals and eight points on 4-9 shooting in the first half. BYU
shooting guard Adam Hall also had 7 first-half points.
The first 12 minutes of the second half turned into an epic
battle between Araujo and Nelson, who traded baskets and blocks
while the score remained between a two- and eight-point lead for
BYU. Nelson capped off a 7-2 CSU run with a jump shot to tie the
game 54-54 with 8:27 to play.
The Cougars responded with a 15-4 run of their own over the next
four minutes, capped by a 3-pointer from reserve guard Kevin
Woodberry to give BYU a 69-58 lead with 4:38 to play. The Rams made
a late run, but comeback hopes were dashed with 45 seconds when
forward Matt Williams missed a spinning layup with CSU down
“We just have to get over that hump,” point guard Micheal Morris