This eight-day stretch for Colorado State has the potential to be a season-defining on as Tim Miles' team faces all three of the teams ahead of them in the Mountain West standings. Thanks to Pierce Hornung the Rams are off to a good start, as the senior accounted for 13 points, 15 rebounds and four steals in the 71-63 win at Moby Arena. About a month ago the Lobos embarrassed Colorado State at The Pit, doing whatever they pleased in an 85-52 laugher that was part of a 2-5 stretch for the Rams.
And coming off of a big win at home over UNLV, maybe the leftover euphoria from Saturday combined with thoughts of that first meeting lulled UNM into a false sense of security. Hornung's play on both ends of the floor was critical for Colorado State, especially on the defensive end where he was one of the undersized bodies that helped frustrate Gordon. After going off for 27 points and 20 rebounds against UNLV the shots didn't come as easily for Gordon, who finished with 13 points, six rebounds and six turnovers.
"You have to be active," remarked Hornung. "He's a heck of a player and he was tough to go against all night. You have to be physical, match his physicality and tenacity (quote from Colorado State Athletic Media Relations)."
Colorado State doubled the post practically every time that Gordon touched the ball on the block and he struggled in dealing with this strategy. As a whole the Lobos struggled to take care of the basketball as they finished with 17 turnovers on the night, and their guards were outplayed despite 16 points from Kendall Williams. Dorian Green led all scorers with 17 points and Wes Eikmeier added 11, and the steady play of reserve Jesse Carr (nine points, five assists and one turnover) shouldn't be ignored either.
"I really like our guards," Head Coach Tim Miles said. "They know they can put it on the deck, create for somebody else, move it, move it, move it, we're going to get a better shot later. I thought that we did that a lot tonight (quote from Colorado State Athletic Media Relations)."
The obvious question for many will be what a win like this does for a team that entered the week with an RPI of 30 according to the NCAA's most recently released numbers, but with games against San Diego State (away) and UNLV up next that's unlikely to be CSU's concern. Will Bell didn't play on Tuesday night due to injury but the Rams stepped up on the glass, finishing with just three fewer rebounds than the Lobos. And a lot of the credit for that should go to Hornung, whose made a career of doing the little things that don't show up in the box score. He certainly came up big on Monday night.
Three Notable Performances
1. G Kendall Marshall (North Carolina)
22 points, 13 assists and no turnovers in the Tar Heels' 86-74 win at NC State.
2. G Chaz Williams (Massachusetts) and G Jordan Theodore (Seton Hall)
Williams tallied 29 points, nine assists and five rebounds in the Minutemen's 80-73 win over Xavier. Theodore matched the point total with five assists and four rebounds in Seton Hall's 73-55 win over #8 Georgetown.
3. F Pierce Hornung (Colorado State)
13 points and 15 rebounds to go along with some solid defense on reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Drew Gordon to lead the Rams past #21 New Mexico 71-63.