Jan 272005
 
Authors: Paul Baker

The CSU men's basketball team will travel the short drive to Laramie, Wyo., Saturday afternoon to take on the Wyoming Cowboys for the first installment of the Border War.

This marks the 201st time that the two teams will meet, the longest rivalry in CSU history. This is the last game of a three-game road trip for the Rams, which is the longest of the season.

The Rams are looking to get back into the win column, as they have lost three-straight conference games. CSU is also on a 16-game, road-losing streak, with the team's last road win coming on Dec. 22, 2003, when they defeated South Florida in Tampa.

The Rams lost a pair of road games over the weekend to UNLV and San Diego State. CSU was led by senior forward Matt Nelson, who averaged 15.3 points per game during the weekend. Nelson continues to lead the nation in field goal percentage, hitting 67.4 percent of his shots.

Another bright spot for the Rams is the play of freshman forward Jason Smith. Smith leads all freshmen in the Mountain West Conference in scoring, averaging 10.4 points per game. He also has led CSU in rebounding the last three games.

Wyoming is going into the game with an overall record of 10-8 and 2-3 in the

MWC. The Cowboys are coming off a 1-1 weekend, as they won at SDSU 88-81 in overtime to start the weekend and then lost to UNLV in Las Vegas 79-67 on Monday.

The Cowboys are led by senior guard Jay Straight, who ranks fifth all time in MWC history in scoring with 1,356. This year he is averaging 17.3 points per game, while also distributing the ball well with 92 assists on the year.

"Their backcourt is their strength, but they are a very balanced team," CSU head coach Dale Layer said. "It will be a tough place to play."

Another player that the Rams should be aware of this weekend is junior forward Justin Williams. Last weekend he was named MWC player of the week for his play against BYU and SDSU. In the two games he averaged 20.5 points per game, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Rams have been plagued by turnovers and streaky guard play that has lead to offensive struggles.

"We need to play more solid and not turn the ball over as much, and we need to get the ball to the right people on offense," said senior guard Nick Ball. "We have to get everyone on the same page, and it's definitely the guards' job to do that."

Saturday's game is set for 1 p.m. at Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium. The game will also be televised by ESPN Plus.

 

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