Feb 192004
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

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

away.”

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.

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