Freshman guard Sean Morris made the first start of his career Saturday night in Las Vegas, and it would be one to remember.
After he turned the ball over on consecutive possessions to start the game, he proceeded to score a career-high 31 points, but it wasn't enough to end the Rams road losing streak, as UNLV pulled away 86-77.
Morris went 9-of-14 from 3-point range, including making 7-of-7 in the first half. The nine 3-pointers in the game tied a school record set Aki Palmer, and Morris became the first CSU guard to score more than 30 points since Milt Palacio, who plays for the NBA's Toronto Raptors, did it against Michigan Jan. 2, 2000.
"It was the most nervous I've ever been in my life," Morris said. "I just tried to do my best, and once I got the first one, it just kept coming."
The Rams led for the majority of the first half, leading by as much as seven points with less than 10 minutes to go. Then UNLV turned up the offense, going on a 13-4 run late in the opening period to take a 48-45 halftime lead.
The Rebels came out from the break on an 8-0 run, eventually taking control of the game. Senior forward Odartey Blankson led the Runnin' Rebels (8-7, 1-2 Mountain West Conference) with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Jarel Blassingame, freshman guard Curtis Terry and junior forward Louis Amundson each followed with 13 points apiece.
The Rams (8-7, 1-3) shot 45 percent from the field for the game, and 36 percent in the second half. CSU was scoreless in seven consecutive possessions in the second half, which contributed to the Rams' late-game collapse.
"They came out with great energy and made us pay for some of our mental lapses," said head coach Dale Layer. "But we did some good things tonight that we can build on. Sean had a terrific game and played much more like what we saw him play in high school."
Three other Rams scored in double figures, including 10 points from freshman forward Jason Smith, senior center Matt Nelson and junior guard Micheal Morris, Sean's brother.
The Rams continue their three-game road trip Monday night as they travel farther west to take on San Diego State.
The Aztecs are led by a pair of sophomores who both average more than 18 points per game. Guard Brandon Heath and forward Marcus Slaughter are the power behind the Aztecs offense, as they trade off being the leading scorer for the team.
San Diego State (8-8, 2-1) is coming off a homecoming overtime loss to Wyoming 88-81, but the team is looking to get its first home conference win of the season. The Aztecs won a pair of conference road games against preseason-favorite UNLV and BYU before dropping their last one. SDSU will look to start 3-1 in the conference for the first time since 1997. This will mark the 52nd meeting between San Diego and CSU, with the Rams holding the 33-18 series lead. The Aztecs hold a 15-12 lead in games played in San Diego, including a 72-64 victory in the last meeting between the two teams.
Game time is set for 10 p.m. as a part of ESPN's Big Monday.