Andy Ogide and the CSU basketball team gave Utah a rude parting gift in the last regular season meeting between the two schools as Mountain West Conference opponents.
On a night when 2,500 Andy Ogide headbands were distributed to the crowd in honor of the signature headwear of the senior, he knew he had to come up huge.
â€œYou canâ€™t play like a bum when you have people wearing youâ€™re headband,â€ Ogide said.
He was anything but a bum in his Moby Arena finale.
Ogide finished the night with 24 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the 78-65 win. It was the second time he dominated Utah this season after notching a career-high 28 points against the Utes in January.
â€œTheyâ€™ve got bigger guys so I can use my quickness and just try and beat them with skill instead of trying to overpower them,â€ Ogide said.
The Rams (19-10, 9-6 MWC) jumped out to an early lead to open the game and were up by almost 10 for most of the half, but turnovers and three-pointers by Utah (13-16, 6-9 MWC) allowed the Utes to narrow the gap to just one at the break.
But the Rams came out in the second half with high-energy and took better care of the ball. And after a 17-6 run to start the half, the Rams never looked back.
Every-time Utah tried to make a run CSU was able to respond with a defensive stop or big bucket on the other end.
â€œWe were sharper tonight. We were faster down the floor,â€ coach Tim Miles said. â€œWe had more bounce in our step.â€
With the win, the Rams clinch fourth place in the conference regardless of the result in the final game of the season Saturday against San Diego State.
The Rams and Utes may soon meet again. There is a chance the two teams could meet in the first round of the MWC tournament.
â€œBeating a team three times is difficult and we understand that,â€ said Ogide on the possibility of facing Utah again. â€œWe feel like we match up pretty well against Utah.â€
But the tournament is a concern for another time. Tonight was all about the final home game for Ogide and fellow seniors Travis Franklin, Adam Nigon and Andre McFarland.
In the waning minutes, Miles put all four seniors on the court in honor of their time spent at CSU. With about a minute remaining, the four seniors were taken off the court for a final ovation from 5,581 appreciative fans.
â€œWe are going to miss having him (Ogide) and the seniors,â€ guard Jesse Carr said. â€œItâ€™s a good way to send them off. Those guys are a big part of our team, and we love every one of them.â€
The Rams play their final regular season game Saturday night at 8 p.m. on the road against San Diego State.
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at email@example.com.