The CSU men’s basketball team will look to complete a season sweep of the New Mexico for the first time since the 1992-93 season tomorrow afternoon at Moby Arena when they host the Lobos at 4 p.m.
Coming off consecutive conference losses, the Rams look to start the second half of the conference schedule on a positive note.
“We got to bounce back,” said Head Coach Dale Layer. “We have to respond with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy. Hopefully a big crowd will show up to support us.”
The Lobos will be without junior Jamaal Smith, who is serving a suspension for his involvement in a fight that broke out in the last minutes of UNM’s 91-83 win over Wyoming Tuesday night in Albuquerque.
Smith was ejected for throwing a punch at UW guard Brandon Jones upon falling to the floor with Jones’ teammate, Brandon Ewing; any player who is ejected during a game is automatically suspended for at least one game.
The Lobos will have Kansas transfer J.R. Giddens available, who has missed three conference games this season because of an ankle injury.
Giddens, UNM’s first-ever McDonalds High School All-American, leads his team in scoring and is seventh in the conference with 16.3 points per game.
Giddens sat out last year because of NCAA transfer regulations after averaging more than ten points and three assists per game with the Jayhawks.
Layer called Giddens an, “NBA-type player when he is healthy,” and that he is capable of scoring from all over the court.
Senior guard Cory Lewis said earning the team’s fifth conference victory Saturday is important for the team’s psyche after two consecutive tough losses.
“If we can get this win, we can start to move on and start the healing process,” said Lewis, who is second in the MWC with 4.5 assists per game.
The Rams will be looking to get junior forward Jason Smith more involved offensively, who made only three field goals in Tuesday’s loss to Nevada-Las Vegas.
“We have to get (Smith) more touches with something to do with the ball,” said coach Layer.
UNM Head Coach Ritchie McKay will be making his fifth return to Moby after coaching the Rams during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons.
Coach Layer served as an assistant to McKay both seasons, who finished with a 37-23 record and a trip to the 1999 National Invitational Tournament.
Junior center Stuart Creason has been a defensive force for the Rams lately. The seven-footer from Coppell, Texas, is averaging more than five blocks per contest the past four games.
Men’s basketball beat writer Sin Star can be reached at email@example.com.