Rams battling Cougars in a packed arena hardly sounds like a safe idea. But when the two are put on the hardwood, it has the makings of quite the show.
CSU menâ€™s basketball (13-5, 3-1 MWC) encounters its biggest challenge of the 2010-11 season as the No. 9 Brigham Young Cougars come to Moby Arena Saturday at 7 p.m.
BYU (18-1, 4-0 MWC) sits atop the Mountain West Conference with an unblemished record, national ranking and player-of-the-year candidate in senior guard Jimmer Fredette.
Guarding Fredette has been a nearly impossible task for opponents this year. Fredette leads Division-I in scoring average at 25.8 points per game, including 32 points a contest in conference play.
â€œWeâ€™ll switch some different guys on him just to give him different looks,â€ sophomore guard Wes Eikmeier said. â€œI think the main thing is going to be for all five guys to play sound team defense to put us in a position to win.â€
The Rams, currently third in the conference, are coming off their signature win thus far over UNLV on Wednesday night, 78-63.
Confidence is soaring for CSU and senior forward Travis Franklin.
â€œOur (confidence) is real high. We knew coming in that we could play with those top teams,â€ said Franklin, the teamâ€™s second leading scorer.
BYU reached No. 9 in the polls by having more than just one man. The Cougars have four players who average double-digits in scoring.
As a team the Cougars score a shade less than 85 points a game, while surrendering only 66 per game defensively.
CSU coach Tim Miles has not forgotten about Fredetteâ€™s backcourt partner-in-crime, senior Jackson Emery.
â€œ(Fredette) is one of the best all of college basketball has to offer, and Jackson Emery is an excellent player too,â€ Miles said. â€œThat tandem is really a dynamic duo for BYU.â€
Both Fredette and Emery are most dangerous from beyond the arc, each shooting more than 50 percent in conference games.
â€œWeâ€™re going to try to get their transition under control, make them play half court basketball and then stay on the attack on offense,â€ Miles said. â€œWeâ€™re better equipped than ever to put ourselves in a position to win the game.â€
Attendance for the game is expected to be a sell out as college basketball fans around the state come to see a top-10 program. It would be Moby Arenaâ€™s first sell-out game since the 2003 season against the University of Wyoming.
â€œOne of our goals is to win games so we get a good crowd and make it a tough place to play for other teams,â€ Eikmeier said.
The thought of upsetting BYU at home for Ram seniors is a tantalizing prospect.
â€œMan, that would be great for our tournament record. It would be great for our fans,â€ Franklin said. â€œThat would give us a lot of confidence to continue on through conference play.â€
Tip-off for Saturdayâ€™s game is 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to wear white T-shirts as part of the â€œWhite Outâ€ promotion.
Assistant Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org._