The Utah Utes(14-15, 7-8) travel to Moby Arena in Fort Fun to take on the Colorado State Rams( 15-14, 6-9) in a battle for the 5th seed in the Mountain West Conference tournament. This game will precede the UNLV and SDSU games so the teams will not know exactly who they will play until later tonight. If the standing stay as is the winner plays San Diego St and the 6th seed would take on UNLV on their home court. It is safe to say that both teams will have no trouble getting up for this game.
Both teams are battling for a .500 record or above in the Rams case. It would seem that playing UNLV on their home court in the first round is one way to make sure the tournament trip is quick but still painful. Even though Utah swept UNLV this season the Utes aren't going to press their luck and give this game to the Rams just to get a match up against UNLV. SDSU is no treat to play but a neutral court is much better then the UNLV home court advantage.
The Rams will be fighting to get their best finish in the MWC tournament since they were a 5th seed in the 2000-2001 season, it was a seven team league at the time. Utah is looking to defend their MWC tournament champion status and a 5th seed would help immensely. Additional motivation goes to the Rams as they look to end a 5 game skid on Senior night(afternoon?) at Moby Arena today. Catch some analysis after the jump...
In the first match up the Rams won 65-50, the Rams largest margin of victory for a conference road game this year. The difference in that first game was the Rams winning the turnover margin 8-16. The teams shot within .3 field goal% of each other, the Rams were better from three point range but it wasn't a huge factor as the Rams made 4 to the Utes 2. CSU also won the rebounding match up 33-26 and had a big advantage on the offensive glass 11-3. The Rams will hope to repeat that performance.
The Utes were lead by Jay Watkins and Carlon Brown who had 13 points a piece. Brown also lead the team in rebounds with 5. Luka Drca had a ugly performance with 5 turnovers and just 4 points. The Utes scoring has come from multiple sources this season as Drca, Brown, and Marshall Henderson all average over ten points a game. If all three are firing on all cylinders the Rams could be in trouble. The one disadvantage for the Utes is they lack the small speedy guard that has hurt the Rams all year. David Foster caused troubles for the Rams in the first game with 9 blocks, he could have another big day as the Rams rely on Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin to score down low.
Andy Ogide had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the first match-up. Travis Busch and Dorian Green aka Baby D both had 13 points in the first meeting. CSU also shot a season high 89.5% from the free throw line in the win which was huge for them as they have shot as low as 50%. The Rams will look to get their shot back, in the last four games they have shot just 38% and only 30% from three point range. For seniors Busch, Mame Bocar Ba, Arin Dunn, Mike Annese, and Harvey Perry it will be their last game at Moby Arena. I wouldn't be surprised if Travis Busch has a big role in this game attacking the boards and hitting shots for the Rams.
This game kicks off the MTN triple header at 1:30 P.M. MST