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Colorado State’s Road to the Sweet 16: Volume 3

After a long layoff, the Rams begin conference play

A brief recap of what’s happened since “Colorado State’s Road to the Sweet 16: Volume 2”:

-After winning the Paradise Jam tournament, the Rams took care of business against a solid Northern Colorado squad, and beat Arkansas-Little Rock a few days later to move to 8-0.

-In front of a rowdy home crowd, CSU played their best game of the year against a really good Saint Mary’s team. Final score: 74-58.

-Not playing their best, CSU was able to pull out a win against a probable tournament team in Mississippi State on a neutral court in Texas. Final score: 66-63.

-The Rams get ranked.

-Covid cancellations against Tulsa, Alabama, and New Mexico, leaving the undefeated Rams without a game for 24 days, 12 of those they were unable to get on a court at all.

-Finally a home game against Air Force in which the Rams were understandably rusty, but gritted out a win, moving to 11-0. Final score: 67-59.

-Covid cancellation against Boise State on Jan. 7th.

-Re-scheduled game against SDSU now set to be played on Jan. 8th.

So let’s pick up where the Rams left off - Their first conference game at home against Air Force.

To put it simply: A win is a win.

After 24 days of not playing a game of basketball, CSU came out extremely, and understandably, rusty against a very shorthanded Air Force team. Air balls, stagnation on offense, and overall sloppy play marked the first 10 minutes of this game for the Rams. They finally found their footing heading into the half, leading by 5, and ultimately pulled this one out.

It was blatantly obvious CSU hadn’t played a game in nearly a month. No offense to Air Force, but this game should’ve never been close. The Falcons were missing 3 of their top 5 scorers. The Rams were favored by 21 points for a reason. To give you a sense of what the big layoff did to CSU’s ability (or inability) to play their brand of basketball, check out how Isaiah Stevens and Chandler Jacobs talked about their game in the post game press conference:

“Just win the game.”

That was the Rams mindset going into this one, and who could blame them? Playing actual games is necessary to build chemistry on the floor, especially in college basketball. You could see that was missing a bit against Air Force.

And so, #20 Colorado State is on to the next one!

After previously being scheduled to play on the road at Boise State this Friday, Jan. 7th, the Rams will instead head to Southern California to play San Diego State on Saturday, Jan. 8th.

This will be a really tough test for the Rams. SDSU is the cream of the crop in Mountain West basketball. They’ve been the best team in the conference for what seems like two decades now. All of a sudden though, a ranked CSU team, who was the MW preseason favorite, is looking to take that crown.

It won’t be easy. SDSU remains one of the better G5 teams in the country. They just beat a good Saint Mary’s team, just like the Rams did, and have had solid wins against Georgetown and Arizona State. They’ve also been able to play a lot more basketball in the last month than CSU has.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how Colorado State plays in this one. Is the rust totally shaken off? Will they play to their full potential? If not, this will become an extra challenging game to pull out for the Rams.

#20 Colorado State’s undefeated season is on the line this Saturday at 2 p.m. MST on CBS.