Keys to victory for CSU men’s basketball at Boise State

Colorado State did not have much time to rest following its big home win over San Diego State. The Rams are on the road Tuesday to take on Boise State at 9 p.m. Mountain Time. Despite losing all-conference selection Anthony Drmic for the season in early December, the Broncos have put together a 14-6 record and are 4-3 in Mountain West play including a win at New Mexico. Here are some keys for the Rams:

Contain Derrick Marks

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The Broncos’ guard has been playing out of his mind this season and is quietly making a case to be MW player of the year. Marks leads the conference in scoring at 19.2 points per game and is shooting an unbelievable 52.6 percent on 3-pointers, also a conference best.

The Chicago product has failed the score in double digits just three times this season (also his only three games without a 3-pointer) with the last instance coming in his first meeting against CSU. In the six games since, Marks is averaging 25.5 points per game and remains one of the deadliest scorers in the conference.

CSU barely managed to defend home court against the Broncos with Marks scoring just eight points. Chances are he will not have another off night so the Rams have to be prepared to pay him extra attention defensively. Carlton Hurst has been CSU’s best perimeter defender this season and may be called upon if Marks gets on a roll.

Chase the Broncos off of the 3-point line

Boise State leads the conference in 3-point field goal percentage as the only MW team to shoot 40 percent or better. Even without a marksman like Drmic, the Broncos roster is filled with capable outside shooters. Nick Duncan is fourth amongst MW players in 3-pointers made (37). James Webb III can stretch the floor as well. The 6-foot-9 forward is shooting 49 percent on 3-pointers and recently went an astounding 7-for-7 from deep at UNM.

The Broncos have taken and made more 3-balls than any team in the conference (170 of 424). But when you live by the three, you die by it as well. In losses, they have shot just 34.3 percent from behind the arc. In the loss to CSU, the Broncos cashed in on just six of those 20 shots (30 percent). They lost that game by six points, so that below average shooting performance made all the difference. The Rams cannot sacrifice many open looks to this team.

Get star players going early

John Gillon put CSU on his back in its last meeting with Boise State. The backup guard dropped 25 points and single handedly outscored the Broncos’ bench. It was a much needed boost for the Rams as J.J. Avila fouled out with 13 points after playing 25 minutes, and Daniel Bejarano needed 10 shots to score 11 points while turning the ball over three times.

In CSU’s two losses, either Avila or Bejarano scored significantly less than their season average. Avila, who averages 15.7 points per game, scored just six points in the loss to New Mexico. Bejarano, who averages 10.7 points per game, scored just four points in the loss to Wyoming.

Both Avila and Bejarano were all-conference selections last year. The Rams go as they go, as evidenced by the San Diego State game, so they cannot depend on their bench to lead the way on the road. When both of the stars play well, CSU is tough to beat. They each will need to be aggressive offensively right out of the gates for the Rams to pick up a win in Boise.

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Collegian Sports Reporter Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at emccarthy@collegian.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.