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Colorado State 69 – Utah State 52

February 8, 2017

Its not often you see a team give a full 40-minute effort over the entire 94′ of the court.  

But when you do you get a result like this.

And my words cant do justice to described what a comprehensive victory this was as the Rams delivered their best home victory of the season over the visiting Aggies from Utah State.  

The game began slowly at a pace that was very much to the Rams’ favor and the they jumped out 7-0 over the first 5 minutes.  The Aggies clawed their way back to tie the game several times, the last at 23 all.  And then the Rams struck with a flurry. A free throw from Nico Carvacho, a pair of three-balls from Prentiss Nixon, and a staggering ankle-breaking step back three from Gian Clavell pushed the Rams into a 33-23 lead in the final minutes of the half.  They finished the half with their best defensive work.

Much like the Muhammed Ali Rope-a-Dope versus George Foreman in Zaire, the Rams had delivered the Rope-A-Dope.  They had effectively dumbed the game down, saving energy and then hit the Aggies hard and quick.

The Rams have been a second half team for much of the year and I could feel a blowout coming.  And when the Rams came out hard and attacked the rim to start the second half, my feeling was confirmed as the Rams quickly built their lead to 17.

Utah State fought back and got the lead down to 9 but that was the closest they would come as the Rams played suffocating defense without committing fouls, found Carvacho for easy dunks,  and handled the ball effectively.

A comeback by the Aggies could have been in the cards but Gian Clavell made sure that didnt happen as he singlehandedly took over on the offensive end, draining a turnaround baseline jumper and following it with 4 consecutive 3-balls.  It was offense of the highest order, a treat for a fan to watch.

The Rams had their 3rd consecutive victory and moved their MWC record to 8-4.

The Magnificent Seven had been magnificent.

Other thoughts

Gian Clavell went off on the offensive end but it was his defensive work on the Aggies’ Jalen Moore that really stood out.  More was a Pre-Season All-Conference pick and a candidate for MWC Player of the Year. At 6’7″ he’s a hard guard because he’s agile, can handle the ball, and score from both inside and out.   A smaller Clavell worked his butt off to stay in front of Moore, contested every shot, and made Moore work for every point. At game’s end Moore had 10 points on 4-15 shooting. Most of his points came when Clavell was switched off on another defender.

And while Clavell’s effort needs to be called out, the team defense was absolutely brilliant over the entire game.  Utah State had few open looks. Even perimeter shots were well-contested for the most part.  And the Rams only committed 10 fouls over the entire game in doing it.  Those contested shots came with only 4 free throws for the entire game.

Speaking of not many fouls, this game had to be the quickest televised game played in D-1 this year.  One hour and 40 minutes.  Both teams deserve credit for playing hard, smart and clean basketball. And Utah State coach Tim Duryea deserves credit for not ruining the game by having his team foul when they were down 16 in the final two minutes.

One final thought…

Usually my wife attends games with me but she stayed home this night.  I went with my son instead. When I got home my wife asked me “Who played well?”  

I answered “Everybody”

I already talked about Gian Clavell.  Emmanuel Omogbo delivered his trademark double-double. Prentiss Nixon filled up the stat sheet with 11, 7, and a career high 7 assists, many of which were to Nico Carvacho. Carvacho was a presence in the paint and finished with 11 and 8. JD Paige played his quiet but effective game as he is the one who controls the game tempo. And both Braden Koelliker and Anthony Bonner performed their bench roles perfectly.  

Everyone was engaged, everyone was working together.  It was truly a team clicking on all 7 cylinders.

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