The lead only changed one time in CSU menâ€™s basketballâ€™s 54-46 win over Wyoming in the Border War at Moby Arena.
With his team down by two points after trailing the entire span of two games against Wyoming up to that point, CSU junior Greg Smith caught a pass from Dorian Green and splashed home a silky-smooth three to put the Rams ahead for good.
â€œI was just Johnny on the spot,â€ Smith said. â€œItâ€™s just luck sometimes, and when youâ€™re playing hard, sometimes good things happen to you.â€
Smith led a dominant second half for CSU, in which he scored 10 of his 14 points and pulled down all of his eight rebounds, as the Rams outscored Wyoming 33-18 in the second half after trailing by seven going into the second frame.
â€œI thought it showed maturity that maybe he had a bad start and he got frustrated, but we got him on the bench and got him composed, and I thought he really played well after that, â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said.
The Rams trailed by as many as eight with 15:28 remaining in the game, and every time they narrowed the gap to three or four, Wyoming junior guard Luke Martinez drilled a three-pointer to re-extend the lead.
â€œNobody is going to lay down and let you have the game, especially in our conference,â€ Green said. â€œWe just stayed with it, defensively is where we won the game.â€
Green helped key the 11-3 run with 14:14 remaining with two key jump shots while junior Pierce Hornung brought the Rams within two with a thunderous put-back dunk off of a Wes Eikmeier miss with 7:55 left in the game.
â€œI havenâ€™t seen him jump that high in my life,â€ Miles said.
Wyoming junior Leonard Washington largely disappeared Saturday after a dominant outing in the first Border War match up. He scored seven points and grabbed two rebounds, with only two points coming in the second half.
CSU won its 11th straight game at home to move to 5-5 in Mountain West play, and after losses to UNLV, San Diego State and TCU, the Rams are tied for third place in the conference and only one game behind San Diego State and UNLV.
â€œThis conference is nuts,â€ Green said. â€œItâ€™s one of the best conferences in the country from top to bottom, and I think itâ€™s going to be a great finish.â€
CSU came back to win after losing its last two in heartbreaking fashion on the road and trailing for most of what would have been an insurmountable loss in terms of NCAA Tournament contention.
â€œIt was huge as a team for us to keep fighting back,â€ Green said. â€œWe got back to what we usually do, which is flying around on defense and not letting us being down affect us.â€
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
By the Numbers
Lead changes – 1
Biggest CSU deficit – 8
Greg Smith points – 14
Wyoming second half FG percentage – 23.8
Attendance – 8,745 (Sold-out and season-high crowd for Moby)