On a night where nobody gave the Rams a chance to win, the Colorado State men’s basketball walked into Boulder as 15-point underdogs, before kicking, scratching and clawing their way to a 72-58 upset over the Buffs.
“That was disrespectful,” Devocio Butler said following, referring to the Rams’ status as double-digit underdogs. “Everyone knew that we only had one senior and they are older, but that stuff is all on paper.”
It not always smooth offensively, as both teams struggled to create any rhythm, but the Rams relied on what they do be best to score, which is using solid team defense to create opportunities, attacking the post and getting to the charity stripe. CSU made 26-33 free throw attempts on the night, including their first 18 free throw of the game, not missing a single attempt until just over 17 minutes into the second half.
“As long as we we can play defense, we can beat anybody,” Butler said. “Coach came into the game, saying that the biggest thing was not turning the ball over, defense and making our free throws. We did all three of those.”
Defensively, CSU held the Buffs to just 32.2 percent shooting from the floor and despite being outrebounded (46-37), the Rams saw quite a bit of success down low in the post.
A huge reason the Rams saw so much success down low was because of the efforts of both Emmanuel Omogbo and Nico Carvacho, who were a two-men wrecking crew under the rim, picking up crucial rebounds and providing a much needed spark offensively.
After being rewarded with a start, Carvacho recorded a career-high in points (14), while also bringing down nine rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Carvacho is a guy that has shown his potential in small glimpses this season, but Wednesday was coming out party for the redshirt freshman.
“I am confident in myself, my teammates and coaches are confident in me, so I just went out there and played my game,” Carvacho said. “It was a big game. We were underdogs by 15 points… We needed this win to show everybody that we are not just the “little brother” to Colorado.”
Despite fouling out with a little over five minutes remaining, Carvacho played an integral role in the Rams upset. Especially late in the first half, when the Rams were able to create some separation from the Buffs and take a three-point lead into the break (30-27).
“I knew he (Carvacho) was special, when I saw them in high school,” Eustachy said. The CSU head coach went onto to explain how much the big man benefitted from playing international basketball over the summer. “There were times (tonight), where he was the best player on the court. He got the key rebounds,” Eustachy said.
Omogbo’s double-double streak ended, but he still managed to bring down 16 points and eight rebounds. Following the game, the big man explained what the victory meant to the team and how proud of his teammates he is.
“I am so proud of Nico (Carvacho), the young guys and everybody that stepped up,” Omogbo said. “He (Carvacho) was big time for us. Coming into the game, we told him “This is your show. Nobody can stop you”, and that is exactly what he did out there. He played like a grown man.”
Colorado State basketball takes the court again this Saturday, when the Rams host the Wichita State Shockers.
Collegian sports reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at email@example.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.