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No. 20 CSU keeps undefeated season alive in thriller win against CU

Colorado+State+University+grad+student+Joe+Palmer+holds+the+basketball+after+a+play+in+the+Moby+Arena+on+Nov.+29.+
Collegian | Samantha Nordstrom
Colorado State University grad student Joe Palmer holds the basketball after a play in the Moby Arena on Nov. 29.

Colorado entered Moby Arena with a chance to beat No. 20 ranked Colorado State men’s basketball, but the Rams just happened to be the bolder team.

Revenge was best served sweet for former Buff and current CSU guard Nique Clifford who sealed the game with a breakaway slam, a rebound and some free throws as the Rams moved their winning streak to seven beating CU 88-83. 

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The story of the season has been the depth of the Rams’ roster and how much of an impact players have made on the court, and Wednesday night it was the difference maker as CSU had five players in double-figures.

CSU guard Joe Palmer was on fire in the first half where he played well on both ends of the court for the Rams shooting 50% from 3-point range, and playing physical on defense. 

“Joe is the energizer bunny right,” coach Niko Medved said. “I thought his 3s really calmed us down too. He made some huge timely shots when we needed them, and those go through and (it) kind of calms you down and juices up your team and he’s done that for us all year, I mean he’s just been a guy who comes in and brings great energy and enthusiasm and he was in a long line of people and he was terrific.” 

CSU guard Jalen Lake also came off the bench for Rams. He brought excitement and swagger for the crowd putting up 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting. 

While Lake had a phenomenal night for the Rams off of the bench, post game Medved announced that he broke his finger in practice and will be expected to miss up to six weeks after surgery.

Both Lake and Palmer changed the trajectory of the game with huge 3-point shots propelling the momentum in favor of the Rams.

“We like to have a team that shares the ball,” Medved said. “When you have multiple guys that can make plays and buy into playing that brand of basketball it’s really fun.”

Rebounding has been a struggle for the team, they were out rebounded once again 34-21. However, the Rams were able to produce in different ways. One of those ways was bench scoring, where the Rams’ bench outscored Colorado’s bench 27-13.

The Buffs had trouble holding onto the ball, and the Rams were able to capitalize on those mistakes with 17 points off of turnovers.

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A big part of the night for the Rams was their 10 steals. Four different players notched at least two thefts, including star guard Isaiah Stevens. It wouldn’t be Moby Madness without No. 4 having one of his Big Game Zay moments.

Stevens continued to show off his wizardry on the court. Recording his third double-double of the season his 20 points and 11 assists helped him check off one of the final boxes on his CSU bucket list.

“That was probably one of the last few things I had on my checklist,” Stevens said. “I didn’t want to get out of here without one (win against CU), that’s a great program over there, lot of respect to Tad Boyle he’s had great teams ever since I’ve been in college and to get one in my last year is pretty special.”

After traveling to Kansas City and winning the Hall of Fame Classic, the Rams have proven they can compete in high stakes games. 

Versatility has been the key to winning games down the stretch, and it was a huge factor in Wednesday nights win against rival Colorado.

Clifford came into the match with the mentality that it was just another game, however it ended up being more than that.

“I tried to just get that in my head that it was just another game, but in reality it’s not,” Clifford said. “I have ties with those guys I was there for three years so I had some pride going into that game, and it feels really good to come away with a win.”

Colorado State (7-0) will play  Washington (4-2) at 5 p.m. Dec. 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Reach Luke Hojnowski at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukehojo.

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