The Colorado State Rams try to make up some ground in the Mountain West Conference standings when they take on the host Utah State Aggies on Thursday night. Utah State (12-3) is unbeaten in the conference at 9-0 and is currently tied with Boise State atop the league standings.
Colorado State (10-3) is two games behind the leaders in the standings at 7-2 after falling at Utah State on Tuesday night. The Mountain West has a schedule that has teams playing in the same venue in two straight games to limit travel.
This is a key stretch for the Rams’ title hopes, as they’ll play host to Boise State for two games next week following this contest. Colorado State had won four straight and eight of nine before Tuesday’s setback to the Aggies.
After Tuesday’s 19-point win, Utah State is a 7½-point favorite if you’re going to bet online. The over/under is set at 140½.
Now Or Never
If the Rams are going to turn things around from the first meeting between these teams, they have to have better defense on the 3-point line. Utah State shot 52.6% from beyond the arc on Tuesday, higher than its overall field-goal percentage.
Colorado State ranks second in the Mountain West in 3-point percentage defense at .307, so this was not typical and should be able to be corrected. Meanwhile, the Rams are the top 3-point shooting team in the league, hitting 38.6% of their attempts.
Another big key will be competing better on the glass, where Utah State held a 44-25 advantage. The Aggies got 12 second-chance points compared to just five for the Rams.
Isaiah Stevens had a team-high 16 points for the Rams, just above his team-leading average of 15.5 points per game. The sophomore guard is also dishing out a team-best six assists per contest.
Sophomore swingman David Roddy struggled a bit in the first meeting, finishing with nine points. It was his second straight game scoring in single digits after going eight straight with at least 15 points.
The Aggies are on an 11-game winning streak as they continue to shut down opponents. Utah State ranks ninth in the country, holding teams to just 59.6 points per game. The Aggies are 14th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to 40% shooting from the field.
Junior center Neemias Queta had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday’s win — his seventh of the season. Queta leads the Aggies in scoring (12.6 points), rebounding (9.6) and blocked shots (2.9) and is second on the team with three assists per game.
Junior guard Brock Miller is looking to keep up his hot shooting from Tuesday, when he connected on 6-of-10 from beyond the arc on the way to a game-high 20 points. On the season, Miller is averaging just 9.5 points, but he easily leads the Aggies with 35 3-pointers on 42.2% shooting from beyond the arc.
Junior guard Marco Anthony and junior forward Justin Bean are the Aggies’ other double-figure scorers, averaging 11.3 and 10.3 points, respectively. Bean helps Queta on the glass, averaging 7.5 per contest.
The Aggies’ winning streak is their longest since the 2012-13 season, as coach Craig Smith seems to have the team primed for NCAA March Madness.
Aggies Keep Rolling
Colorado State is a solid team, but it is facing a red-hot Utah State squad that is going to be brimming with confidence after Tuesday’s easy victory. With such a short turnaround and playing in the Aggies’ home gym again, it’s hard to picture much of a different outcome in this one.
The Aggies keep their conference mark perfect by winning this one easily again. When making your college basketball picks, take Utah State -7½.