The Rams ran into the UNLV Runninâ€™ Rebels at the wrong time.
Coming off three straight losses, UNLV (20-7, 8-5 MWC) took out their frustration on the Rams, winning 70-39 Saturday night in Las Vegas.
CSU (15-11, 6-6) never led in the game and fell behind by as many as 33 in the second half, prompting both coaches to empty their benches.
UNLV came into Saturdayâ€™s game free-falling in the Mountain West Conference after back-to-back 10-point losses against New Mexico and San Diego State and a frustrating five-point loss at Utah.
â€œYou know the old adage it was over before it started? They were playing for their playoff lives today,â€ said CSU head coach Tim Miles after the game.
The Rams return to the court Tuesday at Moby Arena against New Mexico. Losers of two in a row, CSU could take a page out of UNLVâ€™s book on how to respond after a tough losing streak.
â€œWe need to take a lesson of what weâ€™ve learned here today and come out (Tuesday) with that same intensity UNLV did and fight every possession,â€ Miles said.
The Rebels jumped all over CSU Saturday, establishing an early 18-2 lead.
â€œWe got rattled in a hurry,â€ Miles said.
CSU scored only 16 points in the first half, making four field goals.
No Rams player hit double figures. Junior forward Andy Ogide led the team with eight points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Dorian Green and Adam Nigon each added six points.
The 39 points scored is a season-low for CSU. The Rams shot a paltry 22 percent from the field, making only 11 field goals.
â€œNo one in college basketball is going to win shooting the ball 22 percent,â€ Miles said. â€œOnly three other times in coaching have I seen a shooting percentage that low. Our mental lapses hurt us in that area.â€
But it was the Ramsâ€™ defensive play that worried Miles.
Sophomore forward Chace Stanback and freshman guard Anthony Marshall each led the Rebels with 12 points. UNLV shot 48 percent and drained six three-pointers.
â€œAs odd as it sounds with our offensive game, I thought our bigger problems were defensively,â€ Miles said.
Las Vegas native Andre McFarland played in front of about 20 family members and friends, scoring six points on two three pointers.
â€œItâ€™s always good to play in front of friends and family, just the show we put on wasnâ€™t that good,â€ McFarland said in a postgame interview on KLZ 560 AM.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.