CSU basketball motivated to keep the ball rolling at Boise State

Eddie Herz

The Colorado State Rams have certainly achieved momentum on their current two-game win streak in which they have won by an average of 28 points.

Along with keeping the ball rolling, picking up a win against Boise State on Wednesday would serve the Rams in a variety of ways.

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In a jam-packed bottom half of the Mountain West, CSU and the Broncos stand tied for eighth place with 6-8 records in conference play. The University of New Mexico lays closely behind at 5-9, while the Air Force Academy is only half of a game ahead of eighth.

With only four regular season games remaining, achieving the best possible seed in the Mountain West Tournament has become a priority for the Rams. Wednesday’s clash could have a significant impact on how that seeding plays out.

A man rebounds a basketball
CSU center Nico Carvacho goes for a layup against the Razorbacks. He ended up scoring 12 points on the game, however he had 5 out of CSU’s 9 rebounds. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

“You want to get the highest seed you can,” redshirt junior center Nico Carvacho said. “I don’t want to say the easiest route, but if you get top five, you get that bye. That helps a lot. Instead of playing four games in a row you play three. So there is a little motivation. We have a chance to get there if the pieces fall and we get some wins.”

Other than conference tournament implications, the yearning to defeat BSU has grown more significant each day because of the recent history between the two programs.

The Rams’ last victory over Boise State came during the 2016 Mountain West Tournament. The Broncos have built a five-game win streak over CSU since the 88-81 semifinal matchup. Players such as Carvacho, who were on the court for all of the close defeats, would love to check beating Boise State off their list.

“I’ve never beat this team, and I’ve never won at their place,” Carvacho said. “So there is a little more motivation for me. There are only a few teams I haven’t beat. There are only three venues I haven’t won at yet, so this is definitely one I want to get.”

The most recent contest between the Rams and Broncos on Jan. 29 was fitting considering BSU earned a narrow 70-68 win. Three of Boise State’s previous five victories against the green and gold have been by three points or less.

Additionally, the Broncos’ scoring in the contest reflects what they do best this season and how they provide a problematic defense for CSU. Four Boise State players scored double digits against the Rams, which is a recurring theme. To date, four different Broncos are averaging at least 10.4 points per game.

In contrast to playing Wyoming, where Colorado State really only had to focus on Justin James, the Rams will have to provide plenty of defensive intensity since BSU can score in so many ways.

“I think they are really good offensively,” head coach Niko Medved said. “They have really good balance. To me (Derrick) Alstin might be the most improved player in the league when I look at him in the beginning of the season to now. (Justinian) Jessup is playing at a high level, (Alex) Hobbs; I could go on and on. It isn’t just that you can go in there and key in on one guy. You have to play great team defense and try to do what you can to disrupt them.”

Seeding and rivalry aside, defeating Boise State would make a statement in terms of CSU’s ability to grasp consistency. Fully capitalizing on hot streaks has been an issue for Medved’s group this season.

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The Rams haven’t earned three consecutive victories since starting the season 3-0. Other than its current stretch of back-to-back wins, CSU has only won two in a row in Mountain West play once. Tomorrow yields an opportunity for the Rams to prove they are playing their best basketball.

There is no better time for CSU to do so than when the end of the season is approaching.

“We are a ways off from being what I think is our best,” Medved said. “You go into every season, and your goal is to try to figure out how to take this group we have this season and become the best version of ourselves. That is a challenge for all of us…we are not there yet. Hopefully, we can move in that direction and build on these last two wins that we’ve had and try to go in there and play well on Wednesday.”

The 23rd all-time meeting between the Rams and Broncos is set to tip off at 7 p.m. MT. KARS 102.9 FM will provide radio coverage, and the game can be streamed via Stadium College Basketball.

Eddie Herz can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz.