When the CSU Rams host the Northern Colorado Bears tonight at 7 p.m. to Moby Arena it will renew the oldest rivalry in school history, one that stretches back 104 years.
In 1902, the Colorado A&M Aggies defeated Northern Colorado 64-15, but the task won’t be as easy this time, despite Northern Colorado’s 1-7 record, according to Rams head coach Dale Layer.
“They have played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and continue to improve,” Layer said. “We are going to have our hands full. They have a tremendous post in Kirk Archibeque, and in Sean Taibi they have a great shooter that could play for any team in our conference.”
UNC lost at the buzzer in their last game at Colorado, 88-86, and is led by Taibi, a junior guard, who is scoring 14.5 points per game, and Archibeque, a junior center, who averages 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds.
CSU is coming off an 84-83 win over Kansas State on Saturday, and senior guard Cory Lewis thinks the Rams have prepared this week to keep the momentum building.
“I think we had two good practices this week, and we are feeling good after beating a Big 12 team Saturday, when we had great support from the fans,” said Lewis, who led the Rams with a career high 30 points Saturday while hitting 7-8 shots from 3-point range.
Junior forward Jason Smith, who was named Mountain West Conference player of the week on Monday, leads the Rams into the game against the Bears. Smith averaged 19.5 points and seven rebounds per game for the Rams in their two victories last week. Junior Tyler Smith is second on the Rams in scoring at 13.9 points per game, while Lewis is third in scoring with 9.7 points per game and leads the team with 30 assists on the season.
The Rams are on a four game winning streak since dropping consecutive games to Baylor and Rice, and have stretched their record to 6-2.
Layer believes the keys for CSU tonight are good defense and to control the glass, while continuing to build upon their previous games.
“The last few weeks we have improved consistently, and we have got to keep that going. We have to have tough defense on threes and rebound with ferocity,” he said.
Men’s basketball writer Matt Pucak can be reached at collegian.com.