A team like the Colorado State Rams can’t afford to start slowly and hope to win, especially on the road.
Without a doubt, this is a great team, but it’s one that wins by playing the entire 40 minutes; out-working, out-hustling, out-scrapping their opponents for every opportunity.
This isn’t the team we’ve witnessed this season on the road, where the Rams have found themselves behind adversaries by double-digits, and are unable to come all the way back for the victory.
What we saw Wednesday night in Las Vegas was the road Rams, a squad without an offensive rhythm, one searching for answers while the UNLV Runnin Rebels were running up the score. CSU was lost; Greg Smith was a non-factor, Dorian Green couldn’t find his confidence and worst of all, they were getting beat on the boards. Badly.
But what we saw Wednesday was nothing new; it was the third time a slow start led to a comeback and loss in this special season.
Against the intrastate rival Colorado Buffaloes, CSU was overwhelmed and “punked,” as Iverson said after the game. The center, who the Rams’ offense went through primarily to start the season, was stifled by tenacious, physical defense, and Colorado State couldn’t score. They went into halftime down 20 points and looked like deer in the headlights on a backwoods Colorado highway, but the Rams bounced back in the second half and got the Buffs lead all the way down to three points. They could never overcome the entire deficit though, and lost their first game of the year.
Six weeks ago, Colorado State fell behind by 18 points to the San Diego State Aztecs, only to score 40 points in the second half to tie the game and take it to overtime. But in the extra period, the Aztecs ran away with the game to win 79-72 because the Rams expended all their energy coming back.
While the green and gold is enjoying a stellar season on the road according to their standards – going 5-5 away from Moby Arena, 3-3 in-conference – this trend is shocking and a bit scary.
The Rams were terrible away from home last season, as they finished the season 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference Tournament and the NCAA tourney. While they’ve improved this year, they’ll have to come through in the clutch when the season is on the line in only a few weeks from now.
In the meantime, No. 22 Colorado State puts everything on the line Saturday against the No. 16 New Mexico Lobos. It’s the third straight sellout at Moby Arena – which has quickly become the hottest ticket in town – a school record due to the hysteria surrounding CSU Basketball.
Everyone following Colorado State athletics is waiting to see how the Rams bounce back from a big loss in their last game, with all the stakes this contest brings.