Jan 202011
Authors: Cris Tiller

Rams battling Cougars in a packed arena hardly sounds like a safe idea. But when the two are put on the hardwood, it has the makings of quite the show.

CSU men’s basketball (13-5, 3-1 MWC) encounters its biggest challenge of the 2010-11 season as the No. 9 Brigham Young Cougars come to Moby Arena Saturday at 7 p.m.

BYU (18-1, 4-0 MWC) sits atop the Mountain West Conference with an unblemished record, national ranking and player-of-the-year candidate in senior guard Jimmer Fredette.

Guarding Fredette has been a nearly impossible task for opponents this year. Fredette leads Division-I in scoring average at 25.8 points per game, including 32 points a contest in conference play.

“We’ll switch some different guys on him just to give him different looks,” sophomore guard Wes Eikmeier said. “I think the main thing is going to be for all five guys to play sound team defense to put us in a position to win.”

The Rams, currently third in the conference, are coming off their signature win thus far over UNLV on Wednesday night, 78-63.

Confidence is soaring for CSU and senior forward Travis Franklin.

“Our (confidence) is real high. We knew coming in that we could play with those top teams,” said Franklin, the team’s second leading scorer.

BYU reached No. 9 in the polls by having more than just one man. The Cougars have four players who average double-digits in scoring.

As a team the Cougars score a shade less than 85 points a game, while surrendering only 66 per game defensively.

CSU coach Tim Miles has not forgotten about Fredette’s backcourt partner-in-crime, senior Jackson Emery.

“(Fredette) is one of the best all of college basketball has to offer, and Jackson Emery is an excellent player too,” Miles said. “That tandem is really a dynamic duo for BYU.”

Both Fredette and Emery are most dangerous from beyond the arc, each shooting more than 50 percent in conference games.

“We’re going to try to get their transition under control, make them play half court basketball and then stay on the attack on offense,” Miles said. “We’re better equipped than ever to put ourselves in a position to win the game.”

Attendance for the game is expected to be a sell out as college basketball fans around the state come to see a top-10 program. It would be Moby Arena’s first sell-out game since the 2003 season against the University of Wyoming.

“One of our goals is to win games so we get a good crowd and make it a tough place to play for other teams,” Eikmeier said.

The thought of upsetting BYU at home for Ram seniors is a tantalizing prospect.

“Man, that would be great for our tournament record. It would be great for our fans,” Franklin said. “That would give us a lot of confidence to continue on through conference play.”

Tip-off for Saturday’s game is 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to wear white T-shirts as part of the “White Out” promotion.
Assistant Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian.com._

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