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Rams Run Rampant, Rout Runnin’ Rebels 95-77

February 2, 2020

First of all let’s get one thing straight. If headlines themselves could talk and if they could roll their r’s like Moby Arena’s PA announcer does, this would be a 5 minute headline!

The game had the makings of a classic with the Rams coming off a scintillating buzzer-beating win over Nevada and 2nd place UNLV coming off a bye with a week to prepare.

And while CSU came out where they left off against Nevada with Isaiah Stevens draining a pair of three-balls, the Rebels were giving the Rams fits with their physical play in the paint, their disruptive defense, and their athleticism. An early Ram lead disappeared, the teams traded blows. The Rams survived a 6+ minute field goal drought with their trademark hard-nosed and intelligent defense. My analyst wife wondered why CSU was playing so slow and all I could tell her was that UNLV was doing what they came to do.

Nearly 15 minutes into the game, the visitors gained some traction and build a lead of their own at 33-25. A quick CSU timeout. And then the game would turn.

CSU’s speedy guards Kendle Moore and Stevens had earlier moments including an incredible sequence off a steal where Stevens found a streaking Moore behind the defense with a hair-splitting bounce pass for a flying reverse layup by Moore.

Out of the timeout, Moore drained a three-ball from the corner then on the next possession found an open Stevens in the corner for another three and the Rams were on their way to closing out the half in style. The 16-3 run was punctuated with an exclamation point as Moore pushed the ball in transition, forced the UNLV to collapse to set up a trailing Stevens for a long three right in front of the UNLV bench. The freshman calmly rose and drained the thirty-footer at the buzzer and the Rams led 41-36.

The teams traded blows again to start the second half with Stevens scoring a memorable corner three when a jab step sent a UNLV defender stumbling. (Editorial comment-I love jab steps). Nico Carvacho was starting to gain traction in the paint as was David Roddy, and Adam Thistlewood was starting to hurt the Rebels from the perimeter.

And the bench was starting to click as well and the Rams didn’t skip a beat with seniors Kris Martin and Hyron Edwards and freshmen Dischon Thomas and John Tonje on the floor. Next thing you know, the Rams went on another run, this time 14-2, punctuated by an Edwards steal, a pass to Moore, followed by a pass to streaking Tonje for a flush.

The Rams led 66-48 but a quick Rebel surge got the game back into single digits. It was time for another Ram surge. This one was fueled with inside scoring by Carvacho, Roddy, and Thistlewood and to the tune of 16-2.

Three runs – 16-3, 14-2, 16-2. They all demonstrated the versatility and balance of the Rams’ firepower. Speed, skill, sharing the ball. And finishing.

Other Stuff

I wish I was clever up to come up with a name for CSU’s backcourt combination of Stevens, Moore, and Edwards. For now I’ll call them the Blur Brothers because of how fast they play and how devastating they can be in transition.

CSU’s fabulous freshmen were simply fabulous. Stevens was 5-5 from beyond the arc on his way to 21 points. More importantly his poise allowed the Rams to effectively deal with the defensive pressure that UNLV tried to apply. David Roddy would end with 14 after struggling to deal with UNLVs defensive style in the first half (more on that later) Dischon Thomas scored 9 off the bench but it was his adjustment to the Rebels’ physical play in the paint that was impressive. And John Tonje scored 7 including a three pointer off the bounce; he’s not just a catch and shoot guy.

But CSU’s game really begins with the seniors. Nico Carvacho was saddled with foul trouble but absolutely dominated both ends of the floor. He rebounds voraciously, he defends with intelligence and physicality, and he’s like a Times Square traffic cop directing everything when the Rams are running their half court sets. Kris Martin was huge defensively as was Hyron Edwards; when both are scoring some, the Rams attack remains constant and relentless.

Kendle Moore may not have looked dominant on the scoresheet but he might have been the best player on the floor. His defensive work on the perimeter effectively shut down the Rebels’ talented Amauri Hardy. His speed in the open court caused the Rebels fits. And he regularly finished off Ram defensive possessions with high-flying rebounds. His final line was 5 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds.

He stated that he almost had a triple-double. Carvacho jokingly corrected him by telling him he wasn’t even close.

I talked a little with David Roddy after the game. I thought his performance was remarkable. Players often talk about getting better the next practice. In Roddy’s case he got better at halftime.

David had struggled to finish at the rim in the first half. In fact one flying attempt at a dunk was met with a clean, physical block that sent him to the ground. I asked David if that had ever happened to him before. I was surprised that he answered that it had. Then I asked him what he did differently in the second half. He told me that once he realized how committed UNLV was to blocking shots that he became more patient and used more shot fakes.

Personally I find that unbelievably mature for a freshman. The young man is a special player.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jerry Atrick permalink
    February 2, 2020 2:42 pm

    That’s a lot of words

  2. February 2, 2020 4:30 pm

    A great recap Steve. The “blur brothers” are wonderful but they don’t have the size or length to slow down a strong 6’5″ guard. That is where Martin could make a difference if he became passionate about being a stopper.

    • February 2, 2020 4:34 pm

      I think it helps to be able to throw different kinds of defenders at talented big guards like Hamilton, Jalen Harris, or Sam Merrill. Moore, Stevens, Edwards, Martin, even Tonje. But youre right, they are tough to slow down, especially in tight games.

  3. Jani Carpenter permalink
    February 2, 2020 9:19 pm

    Did anyone ever tell you that you have a way with words?

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