Consecutive road games are not often easy, but for CSU, this current road trip might be their toughest ever.
They first lost at Air Force, 67-58 on Saturday, the team that owns the longest current home unbeaten streak in the nation, now at 30 games.
The Rams (15-10 overall, 5-8 in conference) now travel to visit BYU (20-6, 10-2 in conference), who will be looking to tie Air Force’s streak with a victory tonight at 8 p.m. in Provo, Utah.
Some might feel playing in these two tough arenas back-to-back might help the Rams, but Head Coach Dale Layer wasn’t so sure.
“It only helps if we get to carry over some of our points,” Layer joked after practice Monday. “We play in a lot of tough places, like The Pit (the New Mexico arena), Clune Arena (Air Force), so I guess the cumulative effect will help us.”
The Rams are currently 6-6 on the road for the season, having played in many hostile environments, including rivals Wyoming and Colorado, but according to Ram forward Jason Smith, the environment in BYU’s Marriot Center is different but just as hard.
“Their fans are very loyal and vocal. There is always a good crowd, not harsh and hostile, but they cheer like crazy for their team,” said Smith, who is averaging 16.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
The Cougars have been tough to beat anywhere lately, winners of 15 out of their last 17 games, but the Rams have a little bit of confidence against them, having dealt BYU a 90-78 defeat in Fort Collins just over a month ago.
“I think that it (the victory) helps us, but we can’t overlook anybody,” said Smith, who had 16 points and six rebounds in the win last month. “We beat Utah at home, and then lost to them on the road.”
The Cougars are led by senior forward Keena Young, who averages 17.1 and 6.3 rebounds per game, and sophomore Trent Plaisted, who averages 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
“They beat you in a lot of different ways,” Layer said. “They have two real good inside players (in Young and Plaisted), and Mike Rose has been shooting great lately. They have great balance.”
While they say it will be tough, the Rams are relishing the chance to hopefully end one of these streaks.
“I love it. That’s why you play basketball. It (the streak) adds spice to the game,” Layer said.
Men’s basketball beat writer Matt Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.