When the two sides last took to the court in Fort Collins on Jan. 14 New Mexico came away with an 84-71 win over Colorado State. The physical game escalated to a post-game verbal altercation between CSU’s Emmanuel Omogbo and New Mexico assistant coach Terrence Rencher.
Riding a four game win streak, Colorado State will travel to Albuquerque for a rematch with the Lobos on Feb. 21 in The Pit (WisePies Arena).
Heading into the matchup on Tuesday, Colorado State (18-9, 10-4 Mountain West) sits atop the Mountain West alongside Boise State and Nevada and has won seven of their past eight games. The recent stretch of play for Colorado State is highlighted by a 78-77 win at San Diego State on Jan. 28 —something CSU hasn’t done since 2003 — and a 78-73 road win in the first rendition of the Border War over Wyoming on Feb. 14.
A key contributor to the Rams’ strong play is due to halftime adjustments. In 23 of 27 games this season Colorado State has improved their shooting percentage after the break. The Rams have shot 38 percent (312-of-800) in the first half this season compared to 46.8 percent (342-of-731) in the second half.
Not only has Colorado State improved their scoring in second halves this season, but the team defense also improves at the break. In 14 games this season Colorado State has lowered the opposing team shooting percentage in the second half. They are 9-5 in those contests.
Coming into Tuesday’s game New Mexico (16-11, 9-6 MW) was hot and cold. The Lobos picked up a 78-73 win against Boise State, which made room at the top of the conference for CSU, but also fell 78-68 to San Jose State on Feb. 4. New Mexico is 3-2 in their past five games, but against the top three teams in the conference the Lobos hold a 3-2 record with one of the losses coming in a 105-104 overtime game against Nevada.
Redshirt junior Elijah Brown has led the way for the Lobos. The guard leads New Mexico in scoring (18.8 ppg), three pointers (59) and steals (35). On the defensive end New Mexico is led by senior center Obij Aget who leads the team with 37 blocks.
CSU head coach Larry Eustachy holds a 2-7 all-time record against New Mexico (2-6 while at CSU). Both wins came in Moby Arena, as Eustachy has never led CSU to a win at The Pit.
Tip off for Colorado State and New Mexico is set for 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network or listened to on 102.9 CSU Sports Network.
Collegian sports editor Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChadDeutschman