Rams look to tame Cougars

Feb 282006
Authors: Trevor Edy

Two of hottest teams in the Mountain West Conference will be in action on Wednesday night when CSU travels to Provo, Utah to take on BYU.

The Cougars, winners of their last eight of nine games, are coming off an 81-72 win against TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday. It was their fourth straight win to move to 18-7, 10-4 in conference play.

'They are playing with a lot of confidence right now," head coach Dale Layer said Monday.

BYU is currently third place in the conference behind Air Force (11-4 in the MWC) and San Diego State (12-3 in the MWC). This game may shake up the league standing before the conference tournament next week. The Rams currently sit in the eighth spot (15-12, 4-10 MWC), but they are only one game back of seventh place Wyoming.

"Colorado State's personnel is a little different than when we played them last. (Freddy) Robinson is really helping them. He has stepped up the last four of five games," said Cougar's head coach Dave Rose in BYU press release. "They have gotten a lot better in the half court defensively. Their size can cause us problems."

The Rams have won three of their last four games, including two consecutive road games. They are coming off an emotional win in Laramie Saturday and look to carry momentum into Wednesday night's match-up in the Marriot Center, where the Cougars have yet to lose a conference game.

In the last meeting, BYU snuck out of Fort Collins with an 86-84 victory over the Rams in late January, despite CSU shooting 58 percent from the field to BYU's 50 percent.

Jimmy Balderson scored a career-high 24 points against the Rams, but it was the long-range shooting of Brock Reichner that won the game for BYU. Reichner scored 23 points, making four of six attempts from 3-point land and adding to the Cougars impressive 57 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

"They out three'd us last time, they are certainly capable of doing that," said Layer. "You have to give them credit for coming in here and getting a win."

The match-up that everyone will be watching will be 6'11" Trent Plaisted against 7-foot sophomore Jason Smith. Plaisted, a redshirt freshman, is coming off a career night in which he pulled down 18 boards to go along with a team-high 17 points.

"He's a very respectable player, he works really hard and is definitely a candidate for freshman of the year," said last year's MWC freshman of the year, Smith.

Smith, who sat for most of Saturday's game due to foul trouble, leads the Rams in scoring by putting up 16.7 points a night and a team-leading 7.4 rebounds a game. Plaisted also leads the Cougars in scoring (13 points per game) and rebounds (6.8 per game).

"I have to play like I normally do, I can't be worrying about getting into foul trouble," Smith said.

Tonight's match-up should be a high scoring affair, pitting the top two scoring offensives in the conference against one another; As well as two of the worst scoring defenses, BYU ranking eighth (71.6 per game) and CSU ranking ninth (72.4 per game) in the MWC.

CSU junior forward Michael Harrison will certainly add to the point total in tonight's game, Harrison is coming off a career-high 28 points against Wyoming and leads the league in shooting percent, converting on 64.3 percent of his attempts from the field.

"The game plan is for (Jason) and I to play aggressive and try and get people in foul trouble," said Harrison who was MWC player of the week. "We are playing our best basketball, so we have a lot more confidence each day."

Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. MST and can be heard 600AM KCOL.

"We are going to have to go out there and have a perfect game and play our hearts out," said Smith.

Team Overall MWC

SDSU 19-8 12-3

Air Force 23-5 11-4

BYU 18-7 10-4

UNLV 15-11 9-5

New Mexico 16-11 7-7

Utah 12-13 5-9

Wyoming 12-15 5-9

Colorado State 15-12 4-10

TCU 5-23 1-13

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