Men's basketball recap: Rams hold on late, defeat Evansville, 79-72
Dec. 1, 2012
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State Rams improved to 6-0, defeating the Evansville Purple Aces, 79-72, at Moby Arena for the program’s 17th straight home win.
With the win, Colorado State ties the school record for the best start to a season with the 1970-71 and the 2005-06 teams.
“That is a good team. They are one of the better coached teams in the country,” Head Coach Larry Eustachy said of Evansville. “There were parts to that game, particularly offensively, where we played about as well as we could play. I thought we played terrific to hang on under the circumstances.”
Four separate Rams scored in double figures, with senior forward Greg Smith leading the way with 19 points and eight rebounds on 8-13 shooting. Senior center Colton Iverson chipped in with his fourth consecutive double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, contributing to the dominant effort from the CSU front court. Iverson also tied a career high with four assists.
“He is attracting so much attention that we are getting cutters open and getting open shots,” senior guard Dorian Green said of Iverson. “Defensively, he is blocking shots and is hard to score over. He is a key part of why we have been winning so far.”
Senior guards Wes Eikmeier and Green each scored 16 points, while freshman guard Jon Octeus scored nine points. As a team, Colorado State shot 48.1 percent from the field, including an impressive 7-15 from the three-point line.
With senior forward Pierce Hornung missing his second consecutive game, the Rams made sure to attack the glass as a team. Green tallied a season-best seven rebounds, while Colorado State out-rebounded Evansville, 41-22. The Rams have out-rebounded their opponent by double digits in all six games.
The Rams dominated from the opening tip, and jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. Using the good early start, CSU distanced themselves from the Purple Aces and never trailed the entire game. With freshman guard D.J. Balentine leading the way for Evansville, the Purple Aces cut the Rams’ lead to just four points, but Colorado State would respond. The Rams used an 11-2 run midway through the first half to extend their lead to 35-21, and seize the momentum in the game. Outscoring Evansville 22-8 in the paint, CSU took a 44-32 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Evansville turned up its defensive pressure, and started the half on a 9-4 run to cut the lead to seven points. Once again, the Rams would respond, using a 9-0 run over a four minute period to give the team a 57-41 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the game.
The Purple Aces, once again, showed their refusal to be counted out of this game though, and made a late surge, cutting the lead to just four points with a minute left in the game.
“They can get hot and can shoot it,” Green said of Evansville. “They are a good team and are going to be good the rest of the season. They play well together and it’s tough basketball. They hit a lot of shots tonight.”
The Rams were able to survive the late push from Evansville to hold on to the victory.
Balentine led all scorers with 26 points, making six of his 10 three-point attempts, while Colt Ryan added 20 points for the Purple Aces.
The Rams will travel to Boulder to take on their in-state rival, Colorado, on Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. MT.
“I’m well aware of these rivalries, and I know how important it is to people,” Eustachy said. “Hopefully it will be a great game. I know both teams have high character, so they will represent the state well. I think both programs are on the national upswing, and I think it’s terrific.”