GAME NOTES: The Colorado State Rams shoot for a third straight win tonight, as they clash with the Utah State Aggies in Mountain West Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Rams began their conference slate with back-to-back defeats against nationally-ranked San Diego State and New Mexico, but they've responded by taking down San Jose State (66-64) and, last Saturday, Fresno State (76-57). An impressive 10-3 at home in Moby Arena, CSU is just 1-3 in true road games in 2013-14.
Meanwhile, the Aggies have also split their last four outings, alternating wins and losses. Like the Rams, USU also topped San Jose State recently (86-67), but then over the weekend the team was taken down by Nevada, 62-54, in Reno.
The Aggies own a 45-35 advantage in the all-time series, but the squads have not met since the 1998-99 campaign. Utah State has won all but eight of the 39 contests played in Logan over the years.
Even though the group forced just six Fresno State turnovers, it was still the defense the spurred CSU to the win over the weekend as the group held the Bulldogs to only 34.6 percent shooting from the field. It didn't hurt that J.J. Avila came up with a double-double consisting of 13 points and a game- high 17 rebounds, as well as six assists. Daniel Bejarano and Jon Octeus both tallied 19 points and seven rebounds, while Gerson Santo tacked on 11 points for the hosts.
Avila, who went over the 1,000-point mark for his college career versus Fresno State, leads the Rams in scoring overall this season with 18.6 ppg as he shoots 50.7 percent from the floor. Bejarano checks in with 15.4 ppg, and he leads the group with 9.1 rpg and is second in assists behind Avila (60) with 55 dishes. Perhaps most impressive about this group is that it is averaging less than nine turnovers per contest.
Utah State's perimeter shooting was sorely lacking in the meeting with the Wolf Pack, as the visitors converted just 2-of-16, dragging the overall field goal accuracy of the Aggies down to 31.3 percent as they suffered the loss. Jarred Shaw was the lone double-digit scorer for the visitors with 19 points, adding eight rebounds, but he converted only 7-of-20 from the floor in the meeting. Spencer Butterfield posted seven points and seven boards, but his 1- of-7 from beyond the arc was painful to watch.
Shaw, who missed several games due to a suspension, remains the team's leading scorer by average with 15.4 ppg, while Butterfield and Preston Medlin check in with 13.7 ppg apiece. Shaw is also one of the better rebounders for the group with 7.9 rpg, trailing only Kyle Davis (10.2 ppg) who has cleared 8.9 rpg. Overall, the Aggies are one of the better rebounding teams in the MWC, at least in terms of margin, as they maintain an 11.4 rpg advantage over the competition.
Last season, the Rams were one of the top rebounding programs in the nation, but they'll need to ramp up their efforts in the paint tonight if they hope to keep up with Utah State.
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