Men's basketball recap: CSU pokes Wyoming, 54-46

Feb. 18, 2012

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By Zach Balside
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Greg Smith scored 14 points, including a key layup while getting fouled in the last minute to seal a 54-46 Rams victory over rival Wyoming in front of a sold-out Moby Arena Saturday night.

CSU (16-9, 5-5 MW) moves to a tie with TCU for fourth in the Mountain West with four games remaining. Wyoming (18-8, 4-6) falls to sixth in the MW.

"It feels great to win," Head Coach Tim Miles said. "You beat a rival, there's an unbelievable crowd. So those games always feel great to win.

"Regardless of what happened in the past, we had to come out prepared to win. It was a great win for the kids. I thought they did a great job of bouncing back."

CSU bounced back from a 70-51 loss in Laramie on Jan. 21, which snapped an eight-game Rams' winning streak, and left the team wanting revenge.

CSU played vengeful defense, especially in the second half, as Wyoming shot just 23.8 percent in the closing stanza (5-of-21), scoring just 18 points. Only one of their made field goals was a two-pointer.

CSU's second half offense was a contrast to Wyoming's, as the Rams made 55 percent of their shots (11-of-20).

The two biggest shots for the Rams came on consecutive offensive series. Pierce Hornung collected a missed jumper from Wes Eikmeier and tallied a loud put-back dunk that got Moby fired up.

"I haven't seen him jump that high in my life, and I've seen that kid for a long time," Miles said of Hornung's show-stopping slam.

Then, after an airballed three-point attempt by Wyoming guard JayDee Luster, Smith came off a screen to nail a trey and give CSU its first lead of the night, 41-40, with 7 minutes remaining in the contest.

That lead was the Rams' first in the two games against Wyoming this year. "When we took that first lead, I think that was our first lead in either game," Miles said.

Smith's driving layup while getting fouled with 48 seconds left gave the Rams a 49-44 lead, and the free throw pushed the advantage to six.

Miles applauded Smith's effort and ability to step up big for his team.

"Greg can really make plays and I thought it showed maturity," Miles said. "He had a bad start in a lot of ways; it was two turnovers, two missed shots. He just had to get composed and I thought he came out and played really well after that."

Eikmeier was also clutch, with a jumper inside the arc at the 1:38 to push the Rams lead to 47-42. It was Eikmeier's first points of the game. He came into the contest as the MW scoring leader with 16.7 points per game.

The Rams outrebounded the Cowboys 29-19, led by Smith's eight boards.

CSU improved to 3-0 in "Orange Out" games, winning against Wyoming two years ago and New Mexico last season.

Wyoming forward Leonard Washington, who scored 32 points when these two teams last met in Laramie on Jan. 21, only scored seven on Saturday with only two field goal attempts.

"I thought our post defense was good," Miles said. "We didn't let them get anything real easy on us."

Wyoming was led by Luke Martinez, who scored 15 points on 5-of-12 three-point shooting.

CSU hosts conference-leading New Mexico on Tuesday night at Moby Arena. The Rams will look for another marquee win and will aim to keep moving up in the MW standings. CSU will also try to continue its home dominance, as the Rams have won 11-straight contests at Moby. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT.