After 24 years, the drought is over for CSU basketball.
The Rams came out firing and did not cool down, beating Missouri 84-72 in their second round match-up in the NCAA tournament Thursday night.
The victory ends a drought of NCAA tournament wins for CSU that dates back to the 1988-89 season when the Rams beat Florida 68-46.
CSU shot 49 percent from the field, slightly above the Tigers’ 33.3 percent, but the real reason CSU was able to advance to the third round was because of their defense and rebounding.
The Tigers came into the game averaging 41.1 rebounds per game as one of the only teams to rebound at a higher rate than the Rams at 40.1.
But on Thursday night, CSU out-rebounded Missouri 42-19 and limited the Tigers to just 8 second chance points.
CSU senior center Colton Iverson pulled down 13 rebounds in the game while holding Missouri senior forward Alex Oriakhi to just two.
“They really went after us and I thought they were rebounding the ball, which is what they do,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “They really dominated part of the game and dominated the 50/50 balls, and they were the more aggressors.”
Rams senior forward Pierce Hornung pulled down eight rebounds on the day while holding Missour senior forward Laurence Bowers to just three. Across the board, CSU filled up the hustle stats while holding the lead for the entire game with the one exception of the first two points, which Missouri put across first.
“I told my wife, ‘we’re not ready to go home tomorrow morning,’ we’re gonna win this game,” CSU coach Larry Eustachy said. “I believed in these guys, but more importantly, they believed in themselves and it’s the best group of guys I’ve ever been around and I’m proud of them.”
The Rams out-worked Missouri in more ways than one Thursday night, but every time CSU needed a big shot to extend the lead, it was senior guard Dorian Green who answered the bell.
Green, who is recovering from an ankle sprain scored a game-high 26 points for the Rams while chipping in two rebounds and adding two assists.
Green, who has long been considered an x-factor for CSU, hit three of his five three pointers in the first half of the game, en route to spurring CSU to a 13 point lead in the first half, which ballooned to a 17-point lead with 12:12 left in the second half.
“I just wanted to be aggressive tonight,” Green said. “It didn’t matter if we were playing Missouri or whoever, I just wanted to be aggressive from the beginning, but it feels good to be from Kansas and beat Missouri.”
The Tigers cracked into the CSU a few times in the second half, narrowing the Rams’ lead to just six point with just under five minutes to play, but the shooting and hustle of the Rams was simply too much for Missouri to handle.
With the victory, CSU will advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament to face the No. one overall seed in the tournament, Louisville on Saturday at in Lexington, Ky. The game will be televised at 3:15 p.m. MDT on CBS.
The Cardinals are coming off a 79-48 victory over sixteenth-seeded North Carolina A&M on Thursday night.
“We know it’s gonna be tough,” Iverson said. “They’ve got great fans, a great team obviously, the number one team in the nation and we couldn’t be happier to play them in the second round, I mean, why not?”