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CSU basketball takes on UNLV in key conference matchup

Isaiah Stevens hit one of the biggest shots in recent memory for the Colorado State men’s basketball team as the freshman point guard. Leading the team in assists and points, Stevens nailed a game-winning shot as time expired on Wednesday.

While trailing by one point with the clock winding down, Stevens crossed over and pulled up on a step-back jump shot, and as the ball sunk through the basket, the Rams stole the game away from Nevada. 

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That high will be tough to come down from, but the Rams will have to make sure they regain the focus that has made them successful in recent weeks as they face off against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Saturday. 

CSU will attempt to ride the momentum they have gained and carry their confidence going forward. Not becoming complacent will be key for these athletes that haven’t faced much adversity through the early stages of their careers, but this young squad has continued to impress this season. 

So far, young bucks like Stevens, David Roddy and Adam Thistlewood have led the team. Veterans like Nico Carvacho and Kris Martin must keep this team on track for what is looking to be the most successful basketball season for the Rams under current coach Niko Medved.

CSU is 15-8, currently good for fourth place in the Mountain West standings. The win against Nevada will help their case going forward with ranking, but a win against UNLV, currently second in conference, would be massive. UNLV is 6-3 in the conference but only 11-11 overall, making this a winnable game and one that would boast extremely well for the Rams heading into the home stretch of their regular season. 

The Rebels have losses against tough opponents in Kansas State, Brigham Young University, California and UCLA. However, they have been on somewhat of a roll recently, winning seven of their last 10 games. 

UNLV is a very well-rounded team, with four players averaging double digit scoring. Guard Amauri Hardy leads the team in scoring and is second in assists. The matchup between Hardy, a junior, and Stevens will to be a exciting one. Stopping Hardy’s offense and limiting big man Cheikh Mbacke Diong’s defense will be key to a Rams win. Mbacke Diong is getting 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

CSU’s post presence has been significant since the emergence of Roddy as a star. He and Carvacho need to continue to be aggressive down low to get Mbacke Diong into foul trouble. 

Tip-off on Saturday is at 2 p.m., and the game is an Orange Out.

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Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_.

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