GAME NOTES: The Colorado State Rams try to bounce back from their weakest offensive showing of the season, as they host the Air Force Falcons in a Mountain West Conference showdown at Moby Arena.
Now just 2-3 in conference action, the Rams were humbled by Utah State three nights ago in a 57-50 setback in Logan. The defeat snapped a brief two-game win streak by a Colorado State squad that had a previous scoring low of 61 points against both Gonzaga and San Diego State, two opponents that were ranked in the top-20 at the time of the meetings.
As for the Falcons, they entered the weekend in fourth place in the MWC standings, sporting a 3-2 record. Air Force played on Wednesday night as well and used their outing against San Jose State to snap a two-game slide with a 77-62 victory at home.
According to Air Force sources, the Falcons are in a deep hole when it comes to the all-time series with the Rams, trailing 70-31 since the relationship begin in 1957. On the road in Fort Collins, the Academy is 11-38 versus CSU.
The Rams are set to visit Air Force at Clune Arena on Feb. 8 to complete the regular-season series.
Tre' Coggins scored a game-high 27 points and Marek Olesinski pitched in with 19 and seven boards for the Falcons as they flew past the Spartans by 17 points at Clune Arena. Shooting an impressive 9-of-13 from the field overall and 5-of-8 behind the 3-point line, Coggins became the first Falcon to score at least 20 points in four straight outings since Otis Jones turned the trick during the 1994-95 season. Kamryn Williams added 11 points for a Falcons squad that converted 12-of-26 beyond the arc.
Now putting up 18.4 ppg, Coggins is shooting not just 51.6 percent from the floor overall, he is also connecting on 46.9 percent on the perimeter. As a team, Air Force is converting 38.1 percent behind the 3-point line through 16 games, helping to push the team to 73.2 ppg. Max Yon and Olesinski are pitching in with 13.3 and 12.4 ppg, respectively, for a group that is not longer being exploited on the glass and is instead leading opponents in that department with a 2.1 rpg advantage heading into the weekend.
J.J. Avila and Daniel Bejarano scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, with each clearing eight rebounds and handing out three assists, but still the Rams found themselves on the wrong side of a seven-point decision against Utah State a few nights back. The duo combined to shoot 15-of-32 from the floor, the only problem was no one else on the roster made more than a single field goal and only Marcus Holt and Joe De Ciman even ended up in the scoring column with a combined nine points.
Despite the disappointing showing versus Utah State, the Rams are still outscoring the competition by 6.8 ppg, thanks in large part to Avila (18.8 ppg) and Bejarano (15.6 ppg) who have taken over for CSU at the offensive end of the floor. The pair has combined for 121 assists, which is almost half the team's total (244), while their 44 steals are also a huge chunk of the unit's production to this point.
No longer the team bringing up the rear in the Mountain West, Air Force doesn't back down from anyone and is more than happen to man-up in the paint in order to fight for missed shots. As long as the visitors can learn something from USU on how to defend the rest of the Rams, other than Avila and Bejarano, there's no reason to believe the Falcons can't pull this one out.
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