CSU’s biggest non-conference home game on the 2015 season takes place Sunday at noon MT when the Rams tip off against their in-state rival University of Colorado Buffaloes in Moby Arena.
Since beginning the season 5-0 including a huge road win at Northern Iowa, the Rams have hit a two-game skid, falling to UTEP in double overtime, and then at home to Long Beach State. Since opening the season with a respectable loss to No. 7 Iowa State, the Buffs have reeled off six straight wins, most notably against Auburn and Air Force.
CSU is led in scoring by Gian Clavell who is averaging 21.3 points per game (22nd in the nation). The Rams’ 44.9 rebounds per game is the 11th most in the country.
CU has relied heavily this year on guards George King (15.6 points per game) and Providence transfer Josh Fortune (11.6 points per game), while the team as a whole is shooting 43.3 percent from the outside. However, the Buffs’ star is undoubtedly still their big man Josh Scott. The senior is averaging 17.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
Surely, Scott is looking to erase the memory of last year’s game, when he was a complete non-factor while his team lost on its home floor 62-60 to the Rams. Scott went 0-for-7 from the field and finished with just two points, thanks in large part to the defense of CSU forward Tiel Daniels.
Daniels spoke a bit about the importance of the rivalry, where the Rams are at heading into it and how he matches up with Scott
On the rivalry with the Buffs:
“This game is huge and I didn’t understand it when I was sitting out (as a transfer). I didn’t understand the magnitude of it until I walked into CU’s arena. I’m walking in for the tip and the atmosphere was just electric. It was sold out. It was a blackout, I look around and all I see is black everywhere. That rivalry dates back. It’s huge for us to defend home court because they’re definitely licking their chops and want some revenge for what we did last year.”
On the benefits of not entering the game undefeated:
“It kind of takes us off of our high horse. We don’t have this false sense of identity, we don’t think we’re all that. Sometimes its good to go back to the drawing board and regroup. Okay, we got exposed in these areas. The games before we made up for it with our scoring, but we couldn’t outscore these guys these times (UTEP and LBSU). It opened our eyes. We need to limit our turnovers, that’s been killing us lately.”
On what he learned from the double-overtime loss to UTEP:
“That (UTEP) game taught us a lot about ourselves because when we watched film, you know, film doesn’t lie. There was a couple plays where I thought that I was playing the defensive part great but in actuality I wasn’t, I broke down on defense. Coaches are like, ‘See? You argued with us over this, but we were right’.”
On Josh Scott and what he expects in this matchup with CU:
“To expect what happened last year is not realistic. Their team as a whole is coming in with a chip on their shoulder, but especially (Scott). After the game, everyone was tagging me and him on Twitter and saying like, ‘he shut you down’. I feel like he has this game circled with a picture of my face on there with a dart through it. I’m sure he’s thinking, ‘every time I get the ball, I’m going at you. I’m going to make you guard me for 40 minutes’. He’ll be up for it, I’m gonna be up for it, our team will be up for it. It’s gonna be a great one. I wouldn’t miss it.”
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.