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Colorado State 71 – New Mexico 63

February 22, 2012

So I had a very brief conversation with Coach Tim Miles after the Wyoming game on Saturday night. After the great win over Wyoming, he was bemoaning that both the TCU and Boise State games had gotten away from the team in the final minutes. Because of the implications on the conference race. And I told him those games were water under the bridge with New Mexico coming to town on Tuesday and that there was another big opportunity. And he nodded and probably started working on the New Mexico game in his head.

And then there the Lobos were. The hottest team in the MWC and one of the hottest in the country. Back-to-back double-digit wins over San Diego State and UNLV. Talk in the national media about them being a dark horse for the NCAA Final Four. The national Player of the Week in Drew Gordon who is one of a select few to average a double-double on the season. Last year’s MWC Freshman of the Year in Kendal Williams. The leading candidate for this year’s MWC Freshman of the Year in Hugh Greenwood. Sharpshooters like Tony Snell and Philip McDonald. A bench player named Demetrius Walker who was called the next Lebron when he was in 8th grade. A big, strong, talented team.

And then on the way to the arena news that Will Bell was not dressed for the game because of a recurring knee issue.

As the Lobos warmed up in front of me, I noticed a blast from the past. All-Everything UNM point guard Dairese Gary was there with them. And the thought occurred that I should approach Dairese to see if he wanted to wear a white jersey for the night and get some floor time. Because at the time it seemed our guys might really need him.

The last time these two teams met, New Mexico rolled to an overpowering 30+ point victory. They scored a ridiculous number of points in transition off of CSU turnovers. They had their way on the glass. In short they had made the Rams look like high schoolers.

The starting lineups were introduced and reality was about to set in. CSU’s tallest starter was Pierce Hornung at 6’5″. New Mexico’s shortest starter was 6’4″. As they took the floor the thought struck me that the Rams could play lights out and still lose by 10 or more.

But what followed was one of the greatest and most improbable CSU performances in Moby Gym in recent memory!

From the get-go it was obvious that the Rams were going to attack, attack, attack the paint on offense. Numerous forays into the paint. Some rejected easily by the UNM bigs, others successful. Kaipo Sabas delivered a beautiful opposite handed layup and followed it with a three-ball to give the Rams an early cushion. Dorian Green was fouled going trying to dunk the ball over 6’7″ Tony Snell. Pierce Hornung dunked on a screen and roll. And Jesse Carr delivered a flying dunk to close out the Rams’ scoring in the first half.

On the defensive end, the Rams were doing there best to keep the Lobos at bay. They swarmed on Drew Gordon and forced turnovers. Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith were cleaning up the defensive glass.

But when New Mexico’s Jamal Fenton nailed a long three-ball at the buzzer, the Rams only led by 30-29. They had just played a brilliant first half and only led by 1.

The second half opened much the same as the first with a Lobo turnover but then the Lobos took the lead on an A.J. Hardeman layup. The teams traded jabs over the next several minutes.

And then Wes Eikmeier delivered the first big blows of the second half. He had been held to a single field goal in the first half by some tenacious defending but somehow found the space to deliver a pair of three-balls which opened the Ram lead to 7.

It wasn’t to last as the Lobos stormed back into a tie. But a late-in-the-clock three-ball by Jesse Carr off of a great ball fake, a three-point play on a dunk by Greg Smith and then a crazy beautiful reverse layup three-point play by Eikmeier to put the Rams up by 4.

The Rams got the lead to 62-54 but it never felt safe. Too much history of the Lobos coming back in Moby in the Alford years. It got back to 3 on a Demetrius Walker three-ball but the Rams executed and got it back to 7. Kendal Williams made a long three-ball to cut it to 4 but the Rams made free throws to keep the lead safe.

And when Williams missed a three with 15 seconds and the Rams grabbed the rebound, they were home free. The win was punctuated with a Pierce Hornung dunk and the crowd erupted. Students stormed the floors and hugs were shared all around.

In the end, Dorian Green led the Rams with 17. Backcourt mates Eikmeier and Carr chipped in 11 and 9 (Carr with 5 assists against only one TO!) But Hornung was the story. He finished the game with 13 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 steals and generally harassed Drew Gordon into a sub-par game. New Mexico may have had the Superstar in the post but on this night he was no match for Superman.

The crowd was announced at 4444. It was an appropriate number as the Rams on this night sent the Lobos back to Albuquerque on all fours.

One Comment leave one →
  1. David Johnson permalink
    February 22, 2012 6:32 pm

    Nice write-up! I was looking for the Jesse Carr dunk on youtube (I am stunned he got up that high) and came across this report!

    It was absolutely the best I’ve ever seen the Rams play. I’m just stunned.

    Here’s the starting heights that I got from yahoo.com:

    Starting lineups for CSU: 6’5″, 6’4″,6’3″,6’2″,5’11”

    New Mexico: 6’9″, 6’8″,6’7″,6’3″,6’3″

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