Fresh off of a convincing 68-56 road victory over New Mexico at the Pit, Colorado State will return home to Moby Arena for the second leg of its regular season series with San Diego State.
The first meeting between the two teams ended in dramatic fashion. Despite two Colorado State turnovers in the final minute, Gian Clavell’s late-game heroics via a layup with 3 seconds remaining were enough to earn a 78-77 Colorado State victory.
The senior guard scored the final 10 points for CSU while putting up a career-high 37 points in the win. Fellow senior Emmanuel Omogbo also scored 24 and collected nine rebounds in the win.
The victory over the Aztecs on Jan. 28 marked the first time the Rams had won at Viejas Arena since 2003.
Though CSU was picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West, the Rams have caught fire down the stretch. Currently on a five-game win streak and tied with Nevada for first place in the Mountain West, CSU has only three regular season games remaining to capture the Mountain West title.
Led by the senior duo of Omogbo and Clavell, Colorado State has won eight of their nine last games.
In the current five game winning streak, Omogbo has averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds per game. The South Plains college transfer has led the Mountain West in double-doubles thus far in the 2016-17 season with 16. Omogbo has averaged 14.2 rebounds per game.
Clavell has scored an average of 21 points per game over the last five games and has shot 38.8 percent from the floor.
Coming off the win over New Mexico and a Nevada win over Boise State Wednesday, Colorado State now controls their own destiny in their chase for a Mountain West title heading into the game against San Diego State.
The Aztecs, on the other hand, came into 2017 with high expectations, but currently sit in sixth place in the Mountain West with an 8-7 record in conference play, 16-11 overall.
SDSU is coming off of a 63-55 home loss to Fresno State (17-11, 9-7 MW). While the Aztecs season has not lived up to expectations, SDSU has been playing better basketball as of late.
Before the Fresno State defeat, the Aztecs had won three straight games. The win streak included a convincing 14-point victory over first place Nevada.
SDSU has been led by the scoring trio of Jeremy Hemsley, Trey Kell and Malik Pope.
The Rams had fits attempting to contain Pope during the previous matchup between the two teams. The junior forward went 7-of-12 from the floor and scored 19 points while gathering seven rebounds. Hemsley and Kell also combined for 33 points in the contest.
Shutting down the three scoring threats will be a focal point of the Rams’ defense on Saturday.
San Diego State has a 3-4 road Mountain West record this season. The Rams have won five of their seven Mountain West games at Moby this season.
With a pivotal game against Nevada approaching to close out the regular season, picking up another win against the Aztecs is crucial for Colorado State’s Mountain West regular-season title hopes.
A defensive battle between the Rams and Aztecs is anticipated. San Diego State’s scoring defense ranks first in the Mountain West, allowing an average of 62.5 points per game. CSU allows an average of 67.1 points per game, ranking close behind the Aztecs in second place.
CSU and SDSU tip off at 6 p.m. MT on Saturday. The game can be seen on CBS Sports Network. The game will also serve as the Rams’ annual orange-out at Moby.
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz