The end of the regular season has come for the Rams (11-15, 3-10 Mountain West Conference) as they have one game left on the road against New Mexico Saturday.
In order to knock the Lobos (22-6, 9-4 in MWC) off a five-game win streak, CSU will have to do what only one other team has done this year, win at "The Pit." The Lobos are 17-1 at home this year, as their only loss came against nationally ranked Wake Forest.
That's not the only challenge for the Rams, however. They have yet to get a road victory this season and have not won on the road since Dec. 22, 2003.
The Rams are coming off an emotional win over Wyoming in which they won in overtime, 96-94. The Rams committed only nine turnovers the entire game and the seniors stepped up huge, combining for 66 points. But it will take everything the Rams have left to win at one of the country's most famous college basketball arenas. CSU has lost its last nine contests at New Mexico.
"Being on the road, we have to play perfect," said freshman center Jason Smith. "We know Utah lost there and it's a real tough place to play."
The Lobos will be especially pumped up for the rematch with CSU, as it will be their senior night. Their leader is senior Danny Granger, and New Mexico is 22-3 when he is in the lineup this year. Granger averages 18.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Another senior, Troy DeVries, can be just as potent. He averages 11.6 points for the Lobos and leads the Mountain West with 83 3-point field goals while shooting 48 percent from behind the arch.
The last time these two teams faced off in Fort Collins, the Lobos escaped with a 55-47 victory.
Although the Rams have won only two of their last 10 games, they look to enter the conference tournament with some momentum. A little momentum can go a long way, as shown by the 2002-03 Rams. That team didn't have a strong regular season, but it cruised through the Mountain West Conference Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament.
"At the beginning of the year, it seemed that we were all playing separately," Smith said. "But now we're really coming together as a team."
Seniors Matt Nelson and Matt Williams continue to lead the team. Nelson is averaging 15.9 points with 5.9 rebounds per game. Williams is scoring 12.1 per game. Smith contributes 10.4 points and grabs 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Tip off on Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m.