Colorado State (5-1) hosts Long Beach State (3-4) at Moby Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Rams are coming off their first loss of the season to UTEP in double-overtime.
The 49ers are on a four-game losing streak, but don’t let that record fool you. After beating BYU and Seton Hall to start the season, LBSU season got lost to No. 6 Virginia, Oklahoma State (twice) and San Diego State. However, the 49ers went down to the wire with the Aztecs (losing 76-72) and figure to be one of the best non-conference opponents CSU will face at home this year.
These areas could decide the game:
Don’t let ’em shoot
The Rams can really light it up from deep, but the 49ers can shoot it as well. Even though CSU is probably more of a threat from deep (10.2 threes per game on 37.7 percent shooting compared to 7.7 threes per game on 37.2 percent shooting for LBSU) that does not mean the Rams should welcome a shootout. They allowed Abilene Christian to push them to overtime by giving up the outside shots, and then it was open threes that burned them later in their first loss to UTEP. CSU is tough to beat at home, but the teams who have done so in recent years were all able to get hot from the perimeter.
Rebound, rebound, and then rebound some more
Joe De Ciman said after practice Wednesday that the Rams have to get back to rebounding better, which was kind of strange considering they pulled down 73 (not a typo) in their last contest, including 28 offensive boards (again, not a typo). Tiel Daniels agreed though, saying that there have been games this season where the mentality wasn’t quite there, despite the stats. The only team to really dominate LBSU was Virginia, and the Cavaliers did it in large part of the glass. It might not be fair to compare CSU to Virginia overall, but the Rams can rebound as well as any team in the nation. Finishing off defensive possessions and creating second chances on the offensive end will be crucial.
Watch out for Faust
The 49ers have a talented guard in Maryland transfer Nick Faust, who currently leads the team in scoring with 14.7 points per game. Strangely enough, he is actually shooting better from 3-point range (40.9 percent) than he is from the rest of the field (36.7 percent). Efficient or not, he’s the 49ers best scorer, and they will be relying on him to put up points. CSU has enough perimeter players to take turns guarding him, and all of the Rams’ bigs move their feet very well on switches. Just don’t let him go wild like Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow did for Georgia State last year.
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.