The Air Force Falcons are 9-13, have the Mountain Westâ€™s worst scoring offense, a single conference win and just might represent the CSU Ramsâ€™ biggest game of the season.
The Rams (14-9, 5-4 MWC) are in Colorado Springs and ready to take on the Falcons (9-13, 1-8 MWC) in a game CSU head coach Tim Miles said means more to his team than some might think.
â€œThis is a very important game for us,â€ he said after practice Monday night. â€œWe want to continue to show progress. Itâ€™s important for us to show progress and go out and win on the road.â€
Rams guard Adam Nigon admitted there are some challenges that come with gearing up to face a struggling opponent like Air Force but said the possible rewards of a win outweigh them.
â€œI think itâ€™s up to us as players to get going,â€ the junior said. â€œThis is a big game for us. This is two games over .500 (in conference), and then we have a big stretch so we need to take care of some business.â€
The Rams and Falcons have already met once this season. CSU easily won the game, defeating Air Force 70-48 in Moby Arena early in January. Forward Andy Ogide led the green and gold in scoring that game with 13 points.
Since then the Rams have struggled, going 3-4, including a stretch of three straight losses.
Even though the Falcons are in the basement of the MWC standings, Miles still sees strengths in the Ramsâ€™ in-state neighbor, including defense.
â€œThey are very good on defense. They donâ€™t allow you inside easy,â€ he said. â€œYou have to make outside shots and I think that is important to do.â€
Fortunately for Miles, the Rams have had success with their three-point shooting lately, going 10-15 from behind the arch as they knocked off the Wyoming Cowboys 80-64 on Saturday.
Even though the Rams have had success from three-point land, Nigon explained that they canâ€™t get away from their roots. The former walk-on said that long range shooting is a bonus, but not what will carry the team.
â€œItâ€™s important, but we have to stick to our bread and butter and thatâ€™s the inside,â€ Nigon said. â€œSure weâ€™ve made a lot of outside shots, but we canâ€™t be focused on taking outside shots. We need to work it inside-out and take good looks at threes.â€
Forward Andre McFarland agreed with Nigon and added that CSU will take whatever offense they can find. The junior has been battling the injury bug all season but reemerged Saturday against the Cowboys for 11 points, including three three-pointers.
â€œAny sort of offense we can get,â€ McFarland said. â€œSometimes we get kind of stagnate just standing on the wing, and it hurts the flow of our offense. When Iâ€™m scoring from the wing, it helps free up more things inside.â€
Tip off between the Rams and Falcons is set for 8 p.m. Tune in to CollegianSports.com for a live game blog and chat from inside Clune Arena.
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Game: CSU vs. Air Force
Time: 8 p.m.
Where: U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs