Rout. Beatdown. Blowout. Call it what you want, but Wednesday night at Moby Arena the Colorado State men’s basketball found the kind of consistency they’ve been looking for all year by manhandling Mountain West rival UNLV 75-57 in front of an announced crowd of 3,702.
Just four days removed from being benched due to a sideline altercation with Head Coach Larry Eustachy, CSU guard Daniel Bejarano put on a clinic leading the Rams with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. Along with Bejarano, the Rams got solid performances from Jon Octeus (11 points, 7 rebounds), JJ Avila (10 points, 3 rebounds) and a career-high 11 points on 5-5 shooting from freshman Carlton Hurst.
After Saturday’s altercation, many wondered if Bejarano would face any discipline but he and Eustachy both say that their relationship is stronger than ever and that they have already moved past an incident they believe was blown out of proportion.
“There was so much made of it and ultimately it’s just a lesson learned for us,” Eustachy said after the game. “He came up before the game and I went to give him a high-five and he said, ‘No, give me a hug.’ We’ve got a lot of respect for each other. That right there is the reason I’m in coaching — to see a guy bounce back after something like that. He was just terrific tonight.”
What was expected to be a tightly contested game throughout never really was as the Rams (13-10, 4-6 MW) shot 48 percent in the first half while holding the Rebels to just 32 percent from the field en route to a 41-28 halftime lead.
And while it looked like the Rebels (15-8, 6-4 MW) might make it a game in the second half, every time they made a run it was met with a timely basket by the Rams, who stretched their lead to as many as 21 with 12:11 to play.
“That was a bit of uncharted territory for us, having a big lead at halftime,” Eustachy said. “We haven’t had that situation in a long time but I’m so impressed with what they did in the second half. We broke it down into 5 four-minute games and I think we won every one of them.”
Leading that second half charge was Bejarano, who poured in 13 of his game-high 24 in the second frame as well as dishing out 4 assists and pulling down 3 rebounds.
“It just felt good to be back out there on the court,” Bejarano said. “I didn’t feel like I needed to prove anything, I just played my game and did what my team expects me to do.”
But maybe the most impressive stat of the night came down low, where the Rams outrebounded a much longer UNLV frontcourt while also outscoring them 30-26 in the paint.
“That’s a very talented team, Coach believes one of the most talented teams in the conference,” Octeus said. “But it feels good to get a win under our belts after losing a couple at home which is something we aren’t used to. But now it’s on to the next one against Air Force on Saturday and we just have to come ready with this same type of mentality.”
Next Up: The Rams travel to Colorado Springs to face rival Air Force on Saturday at 2 pm. The game can be streamed on the Mountain West Network and will be broadcast on ESPN105.5 FM.
Collegian Basketball Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @kpopecollegian.