Jan 252004
Authors: Steve Latuda

All it took for the CSU Rams’ men’s basketball team to earn its

first conference victory of the season was the return of point

guard Micheal Morris and two overtimes.

Morris returned to action after missing the Rams’ last three

games with an injured hamstring, by playing 39 minutes and scoring

a career-high 24 points. All of Morris’ points came after the first

half and led the Rams to a 92-82 double-overtime victory over a

very capable San Diego State Aztec team Saturday night at

Auditorium-Arena (a.k.a Moby Arena).

“I just wanted to do whatever was best for the team,” Morris

said. “We cannot start 0-4 in the conference because that would be

a rough thing to come back from.”

With the victory the Rams now improve their conference record to

1-3 and their overall record to 9-8. With the loss the Aztecs fall

into a first place tie with the Utah Utes at 2-1 in the Mountain

West and to 11-7 overall.

Matt Nelson, 7-foot junior center who has been battling a right

knee sprain, looked at full strength once again, scoring 21 points

and pulling down 13 rebounds while playing 40 minutes in a game

that lasted almost three hours.

“Morris and Nellie were the difference tonight,” head coach Dale

Layer said of his hobbled heroes. “We missed them, and we are sure

happy to welcome them back,”

Though the Rams pulled out the victory, the Aztecs pulled down

offensive rebound after offensive rebound, allowing them to stay

neck and neck with the Rams until late in the second overtime.

The Aztecs pulled down 25 offensive rebounds, which led to 90

shots in 50 minutes of play. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, they

only made 30 of those 90.

“You can pull down all the offensive rebounds you want to,”

Aztec head coach Steve Fisher said. “But what good does it do if

you cannot convert them into made baskets when you do get


Matt Williams, who went 8-for-9 from the floor, chipped in with

21 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman Brandon Heath lead all Aztec scorers with 26 points

while backcourt mate and Missouri transfer Wesley Stokes added


The Rams now must turn around and play an equally athletic UNLV

team that is coming off of a 76-62 road victory over Wyoming on


The Rebels (9-5, 1-2 MWC) are lead by 6-foot 7-inch junior

Odartey Blankson, who averages 17.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per



Blankson is a transfer from Marquette, where he spent two

seasons. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds

per game.

The Rams must continue to defend their home court on this

three-game home stand to remain in the running in a wide-open MWC


To do that, CSU must stay healthy and focused, but Layer is

uncertain of the status of his two injured stars heading into

Monday’s showdown.

“Neither one (Morris and Nelson) are 100 percent, and I am sure

the Aztec game will take its toll on them,” Layer said. “We will

just try to strap them up and see if we can get some minutes out of


Nelson thinks he will be ready, and he is confident that Morris

will be ready to play as well.

“I am pretty tired right now,” Nelson said after the game. “But

I will be able to turn around and go Monday against UNLV.”

Tip time is set for 7 p.m. at the Auditorium-Arena.

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