Dec 092010
Authors: Cristofer Tiller

Colorado State men’s basketball will face its second Big 12 opponent in a row, and possibly its biggest challenge in school history, as they travel to Kansas City, Mo. to face the No. 4 Kansas University Jayhawks on Saturday.

The Jayhawks (8-0) are a perennial powerhouse in college basketball, boasting one of the most talented rosters in the country every year. Though technically Saturday’s game will be played at a neutral-site, it will essentially serve as a home game at the Sprint Center less than 30 miles from Lawrence, Kan.

The Rams (4-2) are coming off their toughest game this season, losing 90-83 on the road against in-state rival CU-Boulder on Wednesday night.

CSU coach Tim Miles did not want his team to dwell on the overtime loss and used a film session Thursday to point out mistakes and move on.

“You can’t lose a tough game twice, I mean you got to get past it,” Miles said. “We talked about it and now it’s over. Now it’s time to go out and find a way to beat Kansas.”

The trip east will be CSU’s first outside of the state, and only its third game away from Moby Arena. The Rams can expect to see and hear a hostile following of Jayhawks fans.

Rams’ sophomore guard Jesse Carr expects the game to feel like a true road game, but remembers that the team has been in harsh environments before.

“A lot of us have a pretty good understanding of how tough it can be on the road,” Carr said. “We’ve played San Diego State, BYU, where there are 20,000 fans sometimes, so I think we’ll be alright.”

The crowd, while impactful, is nothing compared to the challenge facing CSU on the court.

Brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris are the driving force behind KU’s offense that averages nearly 89 points per game, the highest in Division I basketball.

Marcus stands at 6-foot-9 and Markieff 6-foot-10, leaving the task of slowing down the Morris brothers on the shoulders of CSU seniors Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin.

“Defensively and offensively I’m fine,” Ogide said. “I think that I match up great against them. They can shoot outside shots, they’re good inside, so I got to get some fronts and eliminate as many catches as I can and I’ll be alright.”

Marcus is the Jayhawks’ leading scorer at 18 points a game while pulling in 6.5 rebounds. Markieff is second with 12.4 points per game in addition to 9 boards per contest.

Miles’ formula for beating a talent-laden team is to resist the urge to overcomplicate the game plan.

“When you play a team like Kansas you don’t get more sophisticated, you get simpler,” he said. “There’s no voodoo, we’re not going to take a magic wand out there and create some crazy game plan. You get back on defense, you guard the ball, you box out and rebound, and that’s what we plan to do.”

The players just want to play a basketball game without worrying about the team ranking or tradition.

“We just got to bring energy and not worry about what’s written on their jersey and just man up,” Ogide said.

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian

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