The Colorado State Rams came into the Mountain West tournament only advancing to the finals once. Now they can say they have gone to the conference finals twice.
For the majority of the game it looked like the San Diego State Aztecs would be the team to face the Nevada Wolf Pack for the conference championship. They forced the Rams to make silly mistakes. The Rams committed 13 turnovers, the majority in the first half.
The Aztecs used those turnovers to jump out to 15-2 lead and went into halftime up 36-30. Malik Pope, coming off a minor injury, was the driving force for the Aztecs offense. Pope ended with 18 points. Jeremy Hemsley (11), Trey Kell (15), and Zylan Cheatham (10) were the other Aztecs to finish in double figures.
The Aztecs defense were able to keep Gian Clavell in check for the first half. While he wasn’t his normal scoring self, Clavell was able to help the Rams in other ways. When he had the ball, he drove the lane and found the open man when the defense collapsed on him. Clavell also played an important defensive part, finishing with 6 steals. He would finish with 21 points but only one 3 point make.
Once the Rams eliminated the turnovers, the Aztecs scoring dried up and the Rams opened up. Emmanuel Omogbo had another double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. It was a quiet double-double as he didn’t seem to have that stat line watching the game. J.D. Paige (11) and Prentiss Nixon (16) joined Omogbo and Clavell in double figures.
The Rams now face the Nevada Wolf Pack. CSU must start and finish against Nevada. They must also eliminate turnovers. In the regular season finale the Rams started but didn’t finish the game and committed too many turnovers costing them the regular season championship.
CSU and Nevada tip off Saturday March 11th at 4pm MT on CBS for the Mountain West championship and a birth in the NCAA tournament. The announcers will be Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, and Dan Bonner. Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporter.