Mar 082012
 
Authors: Kevin Lytle

LAS VEGAS-When it comes time for conference tournaments, there’s no rest for the weary.

So despite giving only seven players significant minutes in Thursday’s win over TCU, the CSU men’s basketball team hits the floor again Friday night, about 24 hours after the victory, to take on San Diego State in the Mountain West semi-final.

The biggest question for CSU is the availability of forward Greg Smith. The junior hurt an ankle in practice Wednesday and sat on the bench with a walking boot on his right foot.

“I’d say it’s a mild sprain,” CSU coach Tim Miles said.

Smith’s injury was eerily similar to last year’s MW Tournament when Adam Nigon missed CSU’s first round loss after hurting his ankle in practice the day before the first game.

“I’m starting to think we’re not going to the Cox Arena anymore and do the deal,” Miles said of pre-tournament practices at UNLV. “We’ll see. I think he’d be ready next week. I’m not sure about this weekend.”

With or without Smith, CSU will take on San Diego State after the Aztecs escaped the first round courtesy a buzzer beater by MW Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin to beat Boise State 65-62.

“I’m excited,” CSU guard Dorian Green said. “I know it’s going to be a great atmosphere. They’re a good team. We’ve had two really good games against them. I’m expecting a third one.”

San Diego Diego State allowed Boise State to get back into the game after the Aztecs had a big lead late. Boise State tied the game in the final minute, giving San Diego State the final possession.

Franklin, who led the MW in scoring, hit a fully contested three as time expired.

Now the Rams will have to find a way to contain him, something they didn’t do the last time the two teams met when Franklin went for 31 points and 16 rebounds in a San Diego State win.

“I’ve got to think about that,” Miles said on how he’s going to control Franklin. “That’s a different nightmare for me to have about 2 a.m…. Greg had been on him. Now Greg is unavailable… We only got seven (players), so we’ll figure it out. There’s like four that can’t guard him, for sure. Those other three will get him.”

The two teams split the two games on the season, each winning on its home court.

While CSU is likely in a good position to make the NCAA Tournament, a win over San Diego State would come close to making it a certainty. But the Rams aren’t looking at it that way. They view the game as another step toward the goal of a conference championship.

“Try to win the conference tournament and see if they can keep us out (of the NCAA Tournament) that way,” Miles said. “They can’t.”

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

The game
What: MW Tournament semi-final
Who: CSU vs. San Diego State
When: Friday, 7 p.m. MT
TV: CBS College Sports
Live chat: Collegian.com

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