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CSU men’s basketball rises to occasion, remains perfect in Greeley

Colorado+State+University+number+10%2C+Nique+Clifford%2C+makes+a+basket+at+the+Mens+basketball+season+opener+against+Louisiana+Tech%2C+CSU+won+81-73.
Collegian | Lauren Mascardo
Colorado State University number 10, Nique Clifford, makes a basket at the Men’s basketball season opener against Louisiana Tech, CSU won 81-73.

If there were any doubts left about Colorado State men’s basketball, those were certainly put to rest Tuesday night. 

The final resting place: Bank of Colorado Arena.

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Contrary to their previous two contests, CSU men’s basketball started the game off strong in their 83-64 win over Northern Colorado

In a less-than-exciting game, in which the Rams were in control of for the most part, it was the big three of Isaiah Stevens, Joel Scott and Nique Clifford who were the culprits behind that. 

“They all fit in really to our scheme (and) to our culture,” coach Niko Medved said. “They bring us something that this team desperately needs, they’re veteran guys. We’ve got a lot of guys individually who kind of feel like they have a little chip on their shoulder, or something to prove and I think they kind of play like that. And they want to win.”

A season ago, the Rams let the Bears come in and steal one from them in Moby Arena. 

Medved might not like to talk about it, but when you need to fuel the fire, you throw whatever you can into the flames.

“I don’t like to talk about last year very much, but that might have been brought up a few times in this particular instance,” Medved said. 

Three games into the season and three wins, there’s not much else a team can do to improve on that mark. 

“Winning has to become the most important thing in your program and right now it is and guys are buying into what they need to do to be successful,” Medved said.  “But we’re three games in and it’s been good so far, but you’ve got to just move past it and move on to the next one.”

Part of what has been so crucial to the Rams success this season has been the rebounding battle, in which they are winning comfortably by a plus-six margin. 

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Nothing changed in that department against the Bears with the Rams out rebounding them 44-38. This time knocking on the door to join the rebounding party was Clifford.

Clifford decided to bring not only his season-high in rebounding, but his career-high. Finishing with 14 rebounds, he eclipsed his previous career-best of 11 and his season-best of six, proving to be the life of the party Tuesday night. 

“The first game we didn’t rebound like we were supposed to, even the second game a little bit,” Clifford said. “So that’s something I’ve tried to focus a little more on and my teammates helped me out by boxing out and different things like that helped me go get rebounds too. It’s definitely something that we focused on as a team is getting better at rebounding.”

Coming into the night, the Rams had a tall task at hand. The question they would have to answer; how to stop the lethal front court pairing of Brock Wisne and Saint Thomas?

Wisne and Thomas lead the Bears in points, with Thomas now averaging a double-double after his 15 rebound performance. But, to answer the question, it’s was about team effort when it came to mitigating the Bears dynamic duo. 

“I think it was a group effort,” Scott said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily an individual person. Everyone was choking in, helping out and trying to get the ball out of their hands and making shots difficult. We had stick hands, we were doing what we needed to do and follow the scout our coaches provided us.”

Colorado State (3-0) returns home to take on Kansas City (2-1), before heading on a two-game road trip. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. Friday Nov 17 in Moby Arena.

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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