Nothing excites a basketball player more than playing against its biggest rival especially when the game will have postseason implications.
When the Rams (14-4, 4-2) take on the Wyoming Cowboys (11-8, 2-3) tonight in Laramie, Wyo. there will be more than the usual bragging rights on the line. CSU looks to stay in sole possession of second place in the Mountain West conference.
The Rams will be led by seven-footer Jason Smith, who is averaging 16.6 ppg and 9.3 rpg, and point guard Cory Lewis, who has had an assist in the last 46 consecutive games. Lewis is not taking the Cowboys lightly, despite CSU’s superior record.
“We will have to play perfect, an ‘A’ game,” said Lewis. “No turnovers, rebound, make the extra pass, and stay aggressive and get to the line.”
Lewis will be squaring off against one of the best guards in the Mountain West Conference in Brandon Ewing. Ewing leads the conference in points with 20.5 per game. If that wasn’t enough for the Rams to contend with, Ewing’s backcourt mate is Brad Jones, who averages 15.9 points a contest.
Lewis knows that defending players with the scoring ability of Ewing and Jones will not be easy.
“They have a really good backcourt and it will be a real test,” Lewis said. “We will have to work our butts off against a very good team.”
Head Coach Dale Layer is also expecting a challenge from the Cowboy guards.
“They are the best perimeter team in the league,” Layer said. “They are a very athletic team.”
Wyoming’s home arena, the Arena-Auditorium, can hold more than 10,000 fans and Cowboy fans are known for their passionate hatred of CSU. Layer also knows that Wyoming always plays that much harder against the Rams.
“(It’s) the most hostile environment we will face, they are very passionate about their cowboys, and very hateful towards the rams,” said Layer.
For players new to the rivalry such as transfer guards Tyler Smith and Tim Denson, the game will be like no other in the season. Lewis, who is playing his second career game in Wyoming, knows what to expect.
“I didn’t know what to expect (last year). It was kind of wild and rowdy,” said Lewis, who had 10 points in last year’s contest in Laramie. “Last year I wasn’t that excited, but then I saw how big the rivalry is, and now this year I an aware how big is it.”
The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:05 p.m. and is not televised. The game will be broadcast on KCOL 600
Sports Editor Mike Donovan and men’s basketball beat writer Matt Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.