Men's basketball recap: Hornung-led CSU knocks-off No. 18/21 New Mexico, 71-63

Feb. 21, 2012

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By Zach Balside
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The NCAA Tournament selection committee looks to pick teams that have stellar resumes. This usually means playing tough ranked opponents, and beating more than one of them. If a team fulfills those requirements, it has a good chance of dancing in March.

The CSU Rams padded their resume as they picked up their second win against a ranked team this season with a 71-63 win over the No. 18/21 New Mexico Lobos at Moby Arena on Tuesday night.

CSU (17-9, 6-5 MW) is now alone in fourth place in the MW and improved to 13-1 in Moby Arena this year. The Rams are currently riding a 12-game winning streak at home. The win marked the first time CSU has beaten two ranked teams in a season since the 2003-04 campaign in which the Rams upset No. 22 Purdue and No. 25 Air Force.

Pierce Hornung was given the unenviable responsibility to defend MW Player of the Year candidate Drew Gordon, a 6-9 forward who was fresh off a 27 point, 20 rebound performance against No. 11 on Saturday.

"You have to be active," Hornung said of defending Gordon. "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."

Hornung more than matched up with Gordon, posting a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds, while holding Gordon to just six boards. Hornung also snagged four steals.

What could have been billed as a Hornung vs. Gordon title fight reached its climax at the 3:38 mark, when Jesse Carr fed Hornung a pass that isolated the junior against Gordon. With a quick move left, Hornung ran right around the senior for a layup that gave CSU a 60-52 lead.

With NBA scouts in attendance, the player who impressed everyone the most was certainly the 6-5 forward from Ralston Valley High School.

"I thought (Hornung) was brilliant," New Mexico head coach Steve Alford said. "I thought Hornung was the difference in the game. They were shorthanded underneath and I thought he did an unbelievable job defending our bigs and to be able to score."

CSU's guards also played a key role all night, with Dorian Green leading all scorers with 17 points and Wes Eikmeier adding 11. Jesse Carr had nine points and five assists, while Kaipo Sabas scored seven points and recorded three steals.

"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."

CSU played without 6-6 senior Will Bell, who was injured. Miles was ecstatic about how his undersized lineup played.

"I was just really proud of their hustle," he said. "It just seemed like we were really quick to our spots all night. We should have been; we played four six-foot guys. I really thought they did a great job."

The loss was New Mexico's first since Jan. 21 and ended their seven-game winning streak, in which their average margin of victory was 19.3.

CSU's hopes to keep the momentum going heading into a tough road contest against No. 24/25 San Diego State on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT and the contest will be televised nationally on The Mtn. CSU beat the then-No.13/12 Aztecs 77-60 on Jan. 28 in Fort Collins.