CSU menâ€™s basketball lost its sixth-consecutive road game Saturday, despite leading by at least seven points in three of the four games.
The Rams led San Diego State 21-12 with 9:40 remaining in the first half Saturday, but a dismal second half allowed the Aztecs to prevail 74-66.
â€œGood teams give themselves a chance to win every night out, and I think our guys have done that. Theyâ€™ve put themselves in very good positions and come up short in three straight road games.â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said. â€œItâ€™s certainly frustrating, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s the type of frustration that will get us down.â€
The loss moved CSU from the â€œlast four inâ€ to â€œfirst four outâ€ in ESPN analyst Joe Lunardiâ€™s Bracketology, which approximates which teams will make Marchâ€™s NCAA Tournament, but Miles isnâ€™t willing to swoon with every win or loss.
â€œWe know where weâ€™re at in terms of the NCAA Tournament, and every loss feels like it should be, â€˜oh no the sky is falling,â€™ and every win feels like youâ€™re on top of the world,â€ he said. â€œWe have to control what we can. We canâ€™t worry about the futureâ€™s market; all of that is speculation.â€
CSUâ€™s loss, coupled with wins by UNLV and TCU, dropped the Rams to fifth place in the Mountain West.
Due to the three-way tie atop the standings among UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State, who all are 8-4 in conference play, CSU is only two games out of first, with two games remaining in the conference season.
â€œI knew the conference was going to be good this season,â€ San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. â€œYou have to fight and claw for everything you get.â€
The Aztecs epitomized that attitude on the boards, bringing down 27 defensive rebounds to CSUâ€™s 20, led by a career-high 16 boards from sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin. Franklin also matched his career-high by scoring 31 points, including seven of San Diego Stateâ€™s final nine points in the last minute.
â€œI thought he was electric tonight,â€ Miles said. â€œHe was an extremely difficult match-up for us any way we put it.â€
CSU led by one with 8:14 remaining in the game after a Jesse Carr 3-pointer, but the Aztecs went on a 7-0 run immediately afterwards to take the lead for good.
Foul trouble became an issue for the Rams late in the game, with Carr, Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith all fouling out in the last minute trying to extend the game by putting San Diego State on the free throw line.
San Diego State made 20-of-24 free throws on the evening, including Franklinâ€™s 14-of-15 performance.
â€œI think our foul trouble made us get into zone more and made us play a little smaller than I wanted to,â€ Miles said. â€œThe extra possessions San Diego State got with their offensive rebounds, particularly in the second half, seemed like they resulted in a lot of foul shots for them, and those were killers for us.â€
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rams players to foul out: 3
CSU conference place: 5th
Consecutive Road losses for CSU: 6
SDSU blocks: 8
SDSU guard Jamaal Franklin points: 31