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CSU men’s basketball extends win streak to 4 in win over SJSU

Colorado+State+University+No.+21+Rashaan+Mbemba+%2821%29+fights+through+San+Jose+State+Universitys+defense+in+the+mens+basketball+game+against+SJSU+Feb.+9.+CSU+won+66-47.
Collegian | Lauren Mascardo
Colorado State University No. 21 Rashaan Mbemba (21) fights through San Jose State University’s defense in the men’s basketball game against SJSU Feb. 9. CSU won 66-47.

Hopefully, you bought Rashaan Mbemba stock because the market just closed at an all-time high. 

In Colorado State’s 66-47 win over San Jose State, the first-year forward absolutely exploded in his 15 minutes, when he lead the team in scoring with 13 points while being a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. 

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All year long, coach Niko Medved has talked about the potential Mbemba has shown — and Mbemba has certainly backed up Medved’s words with flashes of that potential throughout the season. 

“He went through some injury stuff and missed a lot of practice and some time,” Medved said. “And I think what you’re seeing from him now is he’s been in practice every day, he’s playing now consistently, and sometimes freshman, you kind of go through that little bit of a freshman wall, so to speak. And now you hit this time in February, and hopefully, he’s kicking it back into gear, he’s seen more games, his confidence is building back up and, yeah, he was big for us tonight.”

Friday night Mbemba didn’t just serve the Moby Arena crowd an appetizer — he cooked up a full, five-course Michelin Star meal.

“I just got put in great positions by my teammates, by (Isaiah Stevens), by just running the court,” Mbemba said. “(I just tried to be) relaxed (and) tried to see the flow. And as I said, (I was) just put in (a) great position. It makes it easier for you, and it’s easier to get in the game if it’s clicking at the beginning.”

The Rams dominated in the low block tonight, Joel Scott going for 12 points of his own, which helped CSU outscore SJSU 38-22 in the paint.

When you’re a forward of Scott’s size and like to dominate down low like he does, these kinds of games certainly have a special kind of appeal. 

“It’s a lot of fun — I mean, who doesn’t like getting the ball?” Scott said. “But I think it’s a testament to our guards because they find us when we’re open. I mean, we’ve got some of the best to do it in: Isaiah Stevens, Nique (Clifford), Josiah Strong, (Jalen) Lake, all of them, even (Kyan Evans). They’re all looking for the open guy.” 

The guard play for CSU was once again what fans have been used to seeing for four years, which is nothing short of excellent. 

Stevens didn’t have the scoring night he’s used to, scoring just nine points, but he dominated in the playmaking aspect of the game, going for 11 assists. But like Mbemba, Evans is starting to find confidence himself. It was the second game in a row the Rams had a positive-point differential with Stevens on the bench. Evans also made a 3-pointer — the first time he’s hit a field goal since Jan. 2. 

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“He’s going to be a terrific player,” Medved said. “He’s smart, he’s athletic, he’s got talent, he’s confident. And obviously, he’s playing behind a pretty good player, so he doesn’t get as many minutes sometimes, but I think just like Rashaan, sometimes you kind of turn a corner here when you get into February and you’ve played a lot of games. … Both of those guys, as freshmen, I think are going to be huge keys for us down the stretch, and I do think that they’ve played a lot more confident and played better here as of late.”

As much as the Rams’ first-year players were a topic of discussion after the game, the whole team seems to have found their groove once again, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

It looked pretty clear that the lull CSU went through to start conference play was plain and simply just that: a lull. Six minutes into the first half against SJSU, the Rams held the Spartans scoreless for a near seven-minute stretch and only allowed 19 points in the first half. Overall, CSU held SJSU to just 47 points — the lowest number of points CSU has allowed this season — and kept them to a sub-33% shooting night. 

“If we want to go where we want to get to, obviously, (playing with more consistent defensive effort has) been a point of emphasis,” Medved said. “I thought that’s been a huge spark to us starting to play better. It starts on that end of the floor. I thought we played decent defense even in Laramie, but I thought we’ve carried that over, and when we do that this team’s been able to find ways to score points. But the defense has been really good, and we’re going to have to keep doing that every night out to have a chance.”

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

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About the Contributor
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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