A single non-conference game usually means nothing more than a slight shift in the win or loss department. However, the Rams upcoming in-state rival game means a little bit more than that.
“I’ve always said it’s not just another game,” CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said.
Colorado State (5-1) will travel to the Coors Event Center in Boulder to face their arch-rival Colorado (5-1) in front of an anticipated 11,000 hostile fans.
“I think we may turn the sound up in the gym during practice, because it will be loud, maybe prepare them that way,” Eustachy said. “We just have to go in there and see what happens, I know our guys will try.”
The Rams would love to shift the momentum in the series after their home loss to CU last season. The 13-point lead the Rams built in the first half at Moby was promising a season ago, but not enough to win. The game was a tale of two halves, as CSU ended up losing the game 88-77.
While the Rams are without a number of their key players from the Boulder game last season, a few are back with a vengeance. J.D. Paige and Emmanuel Omogbo, arguably the team leaders, took part in their team squandering a promising start against the Buffs last season. They would love nothing more than to get the bitter taste of in-state defeat out of their mouth.
“I just feel like it’s not about CU, it’s about us,” Omogbo said. “We are going to go out there and play our game. Guys are starting to get into it, guys are starting to get comfortable. We are just going to go out there and play our game on their floor.”
The teams have identical records of 5-1 entering the game. CU is currently receiving one vote to be ranked in the current AP poll, in part due to a 14-point upset victory over then ranked No. 22 University of Texas.
The two programs from across highway 287 have completely different identities. The Rams are full of new faces and former bench players stepping up to take roles. On the other hand, CU is starting four seniors and one junior.
Experience is on the Boulder side, but CSU should be able to hang around thanks to their defense and ability on the glass. The Rams have held their opponents under 60 points in three of their six contests, including holding Stanford to 56 points on the road. Omogbo’s 12.3 rebounds per game and Che Bob’s 7.2 rebounds per game have been a major contributor to the Rams 5-1 start. As a team, CSU currently ranks 21st in the country in rebounds per game.
“It’s just like coach tells us, it’s not going to happen on the offensive end,” Omogbo said. We are going to win games when we hold teams to under 30 percent and rebound the ball.”
The game will begin at 7 p.m. MT on Wednesday in Boulder. The Buffs have won six out of the last 10 in the series. They also lead the all-time series 86-38.
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz