LAS VEGAS-When it comes time for conference tournaments, thereâ€™s no rest for the weary.
So despite giving only seven players significant minutes in Thursdayâ€™s win over TCU, the CSU menâ€™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.
â€œIâ€™d say itâ€™s a mild sprain,â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said.
Smithâ€™s injury was eerily similar to last yearâ€™s MW Tournament when Adam Nigon missed CSUâ€™s first round loss after hurting his ankle in practice the day before the first game.
â€œIâ€™m starting to think weâ€™re not going to the Cox Arena anymore and do the deal,â€ Miles said of pre-tournament practices at UNLV. â€œWeâ€™ll see. I think heâ€™d be ready next week. Iâ€™m not sure about this weekend.â€
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.
â€œIâ€™m excited,â€ CSU guard Dorian Green said. â€œI know itâ€™s going to be a great atmosphere. Theyâ€™re a good team. Weâ€™ve had two really good games against them. Iâ€™m expecting a third one.â€
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 didnâ€™t do the last time the two teams met when Franklin went for 31 points and 16 rebounds in a San Diego State win.
â€œIâ€™ve got to think about that,â€ Miles said on how heâ€™s going to control Franklin. â€œThatâ€™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 weâ€™ll figure it out. Thereâ€™s like four that canâ€™t guard him, for sure. Those other three will get him.â€
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 arenâ€™t looking at it that way. They view the game as another step toward the goal of a conference championship.
â€œTry to win the conference tournament and see if they can keep us out (of the NCAA Tournament) that way,â€ Miles said. â€œThey canâ€™t.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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