In the CSU menâ€™s basketball teamâ€™s opening game the offense struggled, doing just enough to pull out a narrow victory behind the strength of the defense.
But Monday night the Rams put points up at will in a 75-56 win over Southern Methodist University in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
CSU jumped out early, taking a 30-18 lead halfway through the first half. They continued the offensive explosion through the half, carrying a 51-29 lead into the break.
â€œI thought we caught SMU on a few things,â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said. â€œThey were switching defenses and we got some great ball movement.â€
With the big lead at the break, Miles used the score as a measuring stick for his team. With new leaders taking the reins this season, it was a trial to see if they would keep their composure.
â€œIt was a test of maturity. I thought our guys were solid defensively. We had a little bit of a letdown with some turnovers and some fouls late,â€ Miles said. â€œBut at the same time I thought our performance was good throughout the night.â€
If the Rams are to reach the heights they are aiming for on the season, they will have to be carried by the talented junior class.
And that was certainly the case Monday. Guards Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green both hit three 3-pointers in the first half.
Green finished 19 points and five assists while Eikmeier finished with 18 points.
â€œDorian Green really asserted himself, had an excellent night,â€ Miles said. â€œWes was rock solid as ever.â€
The game was never closer than 18 points in the second half allowing Miles to get Chad Calcaterra, Kaipo Sabas and Cody Mann their first minutes of the season.
And the score allowed the key players to steal a couple of minutes of rest, which could be vital because CSU plays in the NIT regional final Tuesday against the winner of the late Monday game between Fresno State and Stanford.
The winner of tomorrowâ€™s game will go to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final-Four.
â€œWeâ€™ll be ready for the winner of the second game, and have that chance to go to New York City, thatâ€™s why weâ€™re here,â€ Miles said.
Tuesdayâ€™s game will be played at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif. It will start at 9 p.m. and be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.