DENVER – In three games against the Rams, Utah sophomore Andrew Bogut has racked up 79 points and 51 rebounds.
It is probably safe to say Bogut has the Rams' number.
Bogut conquered the Rams again Thursday afternoon, helping lead No. 15 Utah to a 62-49 victory over the Rams in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament, ending CSU's season.
The Australian center led the Utes with 21 points and 17 rebounds to lead all game scorers. Bogut dominated the first five minutes of the game, scoring Utah's first 11 points.
"The last month we've been really working with him on his outside shot," said Utah head coach Ray Giacoletti. "He's constantly working, constantly trying to make himself better."
The Rams came out strong and played with intensity in the first half behind the inside play of Jason Smith and Matt Nelson – who both had eight points in the first half.
It wasn't the first half the Rams had to worry about; it was coming out the second half and matching the their opponent's intensity.
"Coming out of halftime, we tried to change our defense, we changed our doubling scheme down low, and that seemed to help us," Giacoletti said.
With that change, the Utes seemed to take control, outscoring the Rams 34-20 in the second half. CSU just couldn't match Utah, missing shots on key possessions.
"We tried to continue to do the same thing in the second half that we were doing in the first half," said CSU head coach Dale Layer.
Not adjusting to Utah's defensive changes hurt the Rams, but CSU did a good job of limiting Utah's shooting. The Utes only shot 39 percent in the second half and 43 percent for the game. The Rams had a tough time shooting themselves, as they missed multiple shots from down low.
Nelson had a bad night shooting as he went 6-of-15 from the field.
"I guess I just had an off night. The hooks and the little jumpers, they usually go in and today they didn't," Nelson said.
CSU is now 2-6 this season versus MWC teams when leading at halftime, while Utah improves to 4-1 when trailing at intermission.
"Basketball is a game of runs. In the second half they went on their runs, and when there was seven minutes left we went on our run and thought we had a chance to get back in it, but it was too little, too late," said CSU forward Matt Williams.
Utah now has won four-straight tournament games and improves to 7-4 all-time in MWC tournament play. Utah will advance to the semifinals for the sixth-straight year, while the Rams fell to 4-5 in tournament play.
A long season, marred with controversy over players leaving, injuries and the Layer's status as head coach came to an end Thursday, but it was the Bogut's play that was most relevant in the game.
"Andrew Bogut is at a different level than anybody else in this league and quite possibly 95 percent of the nation," Layer said.