The Mountain West Conference tournament kicks off today at the Pepsi Center putting the No. 8 Rams against the No. 9 Horned Frogs at 7:30 p.m.
CSU (15-14, 4-12 MWC) will look for their second victory against TCU (6-24, 2-14 MWC) as the two teams split the first two meetings. The Horned Frogs are coming off a 72-61 loss to Utah on Saturday. The Rams closed out their season on a 63-59 defeat at the hands of Air Force.
"Basically it's a whole new season," said sophomore Stuart Creason of the tournament.
All-Conference picks Nile Murry (3rd team) and Jason Smith (1st team) will be leading their respective teams in the first ever post-season meeting between these two teams.
Murry, a 6'4" guard, is ranked No. 4 in the MWC in scoring with 16.3 points per night. The senior led the Horned Frogs to an 85-72 victory in Fort Worth, Texas in the first meeting, pacing his team with 24 points.
CSU shot a dreary 39 percent from the field in the first game, but then improved to 54 percent in the second meeting.
"It's just a new game when you go to the tournament; you just have to go in there and play," said Smith, the third leading scorer in the conference.
Smith led CSU to an 89-74 win in Moby nearly two weeks ago against the Horned Frogs, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds. However freshman Stephan Gilling and junior Freddy Robinson both led the Rams in scoring with 16 apiece in the win. Sophomore Sean Morris also had 13 points and junior Michael Harrison rounded out the Rams in double figures with 12.
The Horned Frogs bring in the worst offense in the conference by ranking last in scoring (62.3 per game) and field goal percentage (37 percent). This is in contrast to CSU's No. 2 ranked scoring offense (75.1 points per game) and No. 1 position in field goal percentage (49.3 percent).
CSU is looking to make a postseason run reminiscent to the 2002-03 season when the Rams shocked the conference by sweeping through the tournament as the No. 8 seed. They later went on to lose to the Duke Blue Devils, 67-57 in the first round of the NCAA tournament a week later.
This is the first time the MWC has featured a play-in game due to the addition of TCU last summer. The winner of the game will then go on to play regular season conference champion San Diego State Thursday at noon.
Student tickets for single games are available for $17 for the lower bowl and $12 for the upper bowl. They can only be purchased at the Pepsi Center box office.
Trevor Edy can be reached at email@example.com.