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Men’s basketball preview: San Jose State at Colorado State

Basketball_Vs_New_Mexico_EF_8As the Colorado State men’s basketball team heads into the final week of the regular season, Collegian basketball reporter Keegan Pope takes a look at Wednesday’s home finale against San Jose State.

The Rams enter the matchup coming off a 78-70 loss at UNLV a week ago. Despite 60 points from the trio of Jon Octeus, J.J. Avila, and Daniel Bejarano, the Rams simply couldn’t get dig themselves all the way out of a 10-point first-half hole against the Rebels.

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Now, with only Wednesday’s game and Saturday’s second installment of the 2014 Border War against rival Wyoming remaining, the Rams will look to secure their fourth-consecutive winning season and a possible chance at as high as a No. 6 seed in next week’s Mountain West Conference tournament.

Previous Matchup: The Rams defeated the Spartans on the road 66-64 Jan. 8 at The Event Center in San Jose, Calif.

Spotlight on the Spartans: In what has been somewhat of a forgettable season for San Jose State fans, the Spartans struggled mightily in their first year in the Mountain West, bringing a 7-21 record including a 1-15 mark in conference play into Wednesday’s tilt. The lone bright spot for the Spartans has been freshman Rashad Muhammad, who leads the team in scoring (13.3 ppg), made 3-pointers (70), and 3-point shooting percentage (41.4%).

Spotlight on the Rams: CSU enters Saturday’s game at 15-14 overall and 6-10 in Mountain West contests. Despite that, the Rams are just two games out of sixth place, which would land them a rematch with the Spartans next Wednesday before a possible matchup with UNLV in the second round.

But to even have a chance at the sixth spot, the Rams must win Wednesday and Saturday and also have some help from the rest of the conference, most notably Wyoming losing to Utah State Wednesday and for the same Spartans team to beat Fresno State on Saturday.

In what has been a down year after consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Rams have found two of the most versatile players in the Mountain West in Avila ( 16.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Bejarano (16.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.3 apg).

Curtain call for Santo, Morgan: Wednesday’s game will be the final time seniors Josh Morgan and Gerson Santo will play at Moby Arena. Santo, a native of Brazil, has started all 29 games this year and is averaging 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Morgan, in his second year as a walk-on has appeared in 11 games, averaging 1.4 points per game while shooting 3 for 6 from behind the arc.

Collegian Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @KPopeCollegian.

 

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