In a matchup that looked like a state of Nebraska all-star game, a kid from Kansas stole the show Saturday night in CSUâ€™s 87-63 win over the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
The two schools featured a combined 10 Nebraska natives, four on CSU, but Lawrence, Kan. native Dorian Green scored 21 points to lead the Rams.
And he was needed to fill the void left when the Ramsâ€™ leading scorer, Wes Eikmeier, had an off night. Eikmeier scored only five points on 2-10 shooting.
But Green picked up the slack with lively play from the get-go.
â€œI wanted to focus on being more aggressive and attacking the rim,â€ Green said. â€œI did a pretty poor job of that for the last couple of games. Offensively I got some good looks, attacked the basket, and hit my free throws.â€
The junior guard scored 16 points in the first half, seven of them coming from the free throw line.
For the night, he missed only one attempt at the basket, combining free throws and field-goal attempts.
His dominant first half helped give the Rams a 40-26 lead at the break. Coach Tim Milesâ€™ message to his players at the intermission was to come out hard and put the game away.
CSU (10-4) did just that.
The lead grew to 19 within five minutes and one key sequence put the game to bed for good.
With CSU leading 48-32 Jesse Carr put up a three-pointer. He missed, but Pierce Hornung leapt over a defender and tipped the ball out to a wide-open Green, who hit a three.
Seconds later Hornung made a steal and pushed the ball up-court, resulting in a layup for Carr to give the Rams a 53-32 lead that they would never look back from.
After that the CSU lead was never less than 19 and grew to as much as 29 at one point, before settling on a 24-point margin.
All that was left after the Rams blew Nebraska-Omaha (6-11) out of the water was to get some valuable rest for some of CSUâ€™s key players, while allowing the role players a chance to grow and gain some confidence.
The player that took the best advantage of that was redshirt freshman Chad Calcaterra. With Trevor Williams suffering from a bad back that will cause him to see a specialist this week, Calcaterra is the Rams only true big-man on the roster.
He showed that he may be a player that Miles can look to in the future. In 16 minutes of action he scored a career-high 14 points while grabbing five rebounds.
â€œChadâ€™s got legit size,â€ Green said. â€œIf he can come in and pick things up, heâ€™s getting better each day, that could be a big key for us, getting a backup five (center).â€
The win was the fifth-straight for CSU. The Rams play their final non-conference game Wednesday at Moby Arena against a solid Denver University team.
â€œDenverâ€™s an outstanding team,â€ Miles said. â€œItâ€™s Joe Scottâ€™s best team since heâ€™s been at Denver and itâ€™s probably Denverâ€™s best team since they went Division I. I view that game as like a top three or four Mountain West team coming into Moby Arena. Theyâ€™re that good.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.