Adam Nigon came to the CSU men’s basketball team as a freshman walk-on in 2007. Two years later, he finds himself with a scholarship, a place in the starting line up and playing a significant role in the Rams’ early success.
Nigon displayed just how far he has come at CSU (5-3) Saturday night, helping the Rams defeat in-state rival Denver 64-59, while improving to a 3-0 home record.
CSU led the Pioneers (5-2) the entire second half, but had some close calls. Leading 55-54 with just more than two minutes to play, the Rams desperately needed some offense and found it with Nigon. The junior hit a deep three-pointer, giving the Rams a four-point lead, signifying the beginning of the end for DU.
The Pioneers tried to claw their way back, sending CSU to the free throw line in an attempt to conserve time, but it didn’t work. The Rams hit crucial free throws down the stretch en route to victory.
Nigon, who led the Rams in scoring with 14 points, including a trio of three pointers, said he has been working on his jump shot since the beginning of school and that it felt right to shoot Saturday.
“I was just feeling good,” he said. “Coach told me at the end of last year that I needed to find a way to get on the floor, and I felt that with a jump shot threat I could find more minutes for myself. It’s starting to work out for me.”
CSU head coach Tim Miles said Nigon’s significance to the Rams Saturday night and all season.
“If he’s going to make a mistake, he’s going to make it going 100 miles an hour,” Miles said. “But he’s also going to do some good things to help you out too. I thought he was really good (Saturday) defensively. He has a good voice, he knows exactly what we want and that’s why he went from a walk-on to a scholarship kid.”
As they have for their past two contests, the Rams got off to a slow start against the Pioneers, falling behind 11-1 early.
CSU’s offense awoke midway through the half thanks in large part to Nigon who sank a pair of three-pointers and a trio of free throws helping the Rams to a 35-29 halftime lead.
Nigon, a Broomfield High School graduate, blamed the slow start on the team’s emotions.
“Not quite the defensive start we wanted,” the 6-foot-3 guard said. “Guys were a little down on this game, and the mood was down for those first few minutes. Once the game started going, we started picking up.”
Welcome back, Travis Busch
After having off-season knee surgery in July, forward Travis Busch saw his first action of the season for the Rams Saturday night. The junior was effective in his first game back, playing 19 minutes and scoring seven points.
Busch said it felt good to be back on the court this early. The Minnesota native wasn’t originally scheduled to play until January.
“It was very nerve wracking to come back tonight,” Busch said. “I mean just a lot of rehab two and a half hours a day. That was the hard part. This is the easy part.”
Miles liked what he saw from his forward.
“I thought he was really solid for us tonight,” he said. “We played him a little bit more than we should have, but at the same time he looked fine to me.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.