Despite falling below .500 to 11-12 (3-7 MWC), Matt Nelson’s
return, coupled with his 24 points and 10 rebounds, was a bright
spot in CSU’s 79-73 loss to BYU on Monday.
His return to the lineup provides much-needed relief for
everyone else on the team, allowing them to focus on getting open
for outside shots.
“It’s easier because he demands a lot of attention inside,” said
Rams guard Micheal Morris. “It’s a totally different game because
nobody in our league can guard him.”
The Rams will look for Nelson to produce again on Saturday in
Las Vegas as they play their first of three straight games on the
road. After the loss to BYU, Rams head coach Dale Layer talked
about Nelson’s return and the impact he has on the team.
“We hope to get our chemistry back,” Layer said. “We are
learning to play with him in there again.”
The Rams will be in Vegas attempting to break a three-game
losing streak that was preceded by three straight wins, all of
which came in overtime.
The Rams played UNLV back on Jan. 26 at Moby Arena and defeated
them in overtime 89-83. Nelson had 20 points and 10 rebounds and
Jon Rakiecki added 19 points of his own to help the Rams get only
their second conference win.
The Rebels (13-9, 4-5) will play without head coach Charlie
Spoonhour, who resigned last week due to health concerns.
“I am physically unable to do this,” Spoonhour said in a press
conference. “Because of my health it is in my best interest to step
His son, Jay Spoonhour, took over as interim head coach and
helped UNLV to a 68-65 victory over San Diego State.
Despite the immediate loss of the team’s head coach, UNLV got 25
points from guard/forward Romel Beck and stormed back for its new
coach’s first victory.
Back in Moby Arena, coach Layer expressed sympathy for Spoonhour
after Thursday’s practice and then expressed the importance of
having Nelson in the lineup against the Rebels.
“He’s a big guy that takes pressure off everybody,” Layer said.
“Our shooters end up getting more open shots. A guy like Matt
Williams has more space to work with.”
The Rams face the Rebels at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, then travel
to California to play San Diego State on Monday.