| Fort Collins Coloradoan
One is an accident. Two is a trend. Three is a statement.
The Colorado State men’s basketball is every bit a part of this Mountain West title race.
The Rams blasted Mountain West-leading Boise State 78-56 on Wednesday night at Moby Arena.
CSU has now beaten the current leaders, last season’s regular season champions (San Diego State) and last year’s tournament champions (Utah State).
The Rams are officially a major player for the MW title and an NCAA Tournament bid after taking down the Broncos.
Here are three thoughts on the win.
Too often this season, CSU has played from behind and had to chase games.
Not on Wednesday night.
The Rams came out flying and quickly built a double-digit lead, as an Isaiah Stevens bucket at the first-half buzzer made it a 15-point game.
Boise State cut it to 50-45 at one point in the second half but CSU quickly responded and grew the lead back to double digits.
John Tonje hit a pair of significant 3-pointers to grow the lead back to nine, and the Rams never looked back.
Isaiah Stevens finished with 12 points and 10 assists. He did have eight turnovers, a key element CSU will have to cleanup (19 turnovers as a team) for Friday’s rematch.
Tonje and Kendle Moore added 11 points each.
The win was set up by a sensational first-half when CSU held Boise State to 33% shooting. Derrick Alston had just six first-half points and got hot to get the Broncos back in the game, finishing with 20 points.
But CSU shut everyone else down, with no other Broncos player scoring more than 10. Boise State, the highest scoring team in the conference, shot 38% from the field and just 22% from 3-point territory. CSU won the rebounding battle 40-24.
“I thought our defense was outstanding. That was the way we won the game,” CSU coach Niko Medved said. “If you would have told me we would turn the ball over 19 times and win by 20 I would have thought you were crazy. I think that speaks to how well we defended.”
Boise State was winning MW games by an average of 23 points per game before the Rams virtually reversed that result.
David Roddy’s game
CSU sophomore forward Roddy has been dominant all season, but Wednesday might have been his biggest national moment to date.
Playing the previously-unbeaten Mountain West leaders, the 6-foot-5 Minnesota native was by far the best player on the court.
There’s been talk that he could become a leading MW Player of the Year candidate. That was meant to be in the future, but he has already entered the conversation for this season.
Roddy did everything CSU needed. He was excellent on defense, a force in the paint and poured in several buckets when the game got tight in the second half.
His transition 3-pointer to make it 68-52 late in the game was the virtual dagger to seal the win for CSU.
Roddy’s stat line was eye-popping, as he posted 27 points and 15 rebounds. That’s a career-high in both categories. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the second-half alone as he hauled the Rams to victory.
“It’s starting to get pretty routine at this point, but he’ll still have a play at least once a game that kind of just shocks you,” Stevens said. “I’ve seen probably all of it that comes around, but he still makes some pretty spectacular plays throughout the course of a game.”
CSU would probably need to win the Mountain West regular season title for Roddy to be named Player of the Year, but the Rams and Roddy are both in the mix.
All up for grabs
The win gives Boise State (13-2, 9-1 MW) its first conference loss and snaps a 13-game unbeaten run. The Rams (12-3, 9-2 MW) are now just one game behind the Broncos in the loss column.
Of course, these teams meet again Friday night (9 p.m., FS1) at Moby Arena and CSU can jump into a tie for first with a win. But a Boise State win would also put the Rams two games behind the leaders again.
Still, in just Year 3 of Medved’s rebuild, it’s quite a sight to see the Rams already in conference title contention as February approaches.
These Rams don’t view themselves as “up and coming.” They’re in it now.
“We didn’t like it last year and we definitely don’t like it now, but people are going to say whatever they feel and we’re going to continue to put our best foot forward,” Stevens said.
It can’t be ignored how important this win was for NCAA tournament resume purposes.
Boise State entered the game No. 15 in NET rankings, and this was the third “Quadrant 1” win of the season for CSU. The Rams were No. 55 in NET entering the day, firmly in NCAA tournament “bubble” territory.
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