PHOENIX –– Although the state of Colorado was on a stage most commonly used for casual pick-up basketball games, the Rams had no problem delivering a high level of intensity Thursday night.
In a clash with the state of San Jose at the Ability 360 Center in Arizona, Trainer Niko Medved’s energetic group came out with a bang in front of three rows of scattered cardboard clippings in SJSU’s temporary home arena.
“It was a little different,” said Junior Guard Kendle Moore. “It kind of brought me back to the AAU era. Back in high school, I was playing in a gym. But we tried not to focus on it for the most part. We were just trying to take care of business. And I feel like we mostly did that today. ”
The CSU (9-2, 6-1) took full advantage of the understaffed Spartans (2-9, 0-7 Mountain West) and opened the celebrations with a run of 29-11 when the Rams sailed smoothly from there and one 90-57 win earned for the squad’s seventh win in their last eight games.
The Rams’ immediate advantage, combining a sharp defense with an attack on the light cut transition, ranged as much as 25 before the buzzer sounded in the first half.
“In the past we started a little slowly and then we have to catch up for the whole game,” said Moore. “We were just talking about coming out with a lot of enthusiasm and getting off to a great start to make the game a little smoother for us in the long run.”
The CSU created minimal drama and practically put the result aside before it even started. And early on, it was the second phenomenon, Isaiah Stevens, who led the Rams through the overwhelming, competitive framework in which the CSU completed the 46-26 lead.
Stevens was highlighted in the first 20 minutes of play by two skillful jumpers and scored all 14 points.
Though Stevens was initially in the spotlight, the CSU showed a truly balanced performance as nine different Rams found the point column during Thursday’s comfortable win.
“I thought we did a really good job of distributing and dividing the floor,” Medved said. “If we keep it that simple, I think it’s really, really good. The guys did a really good job sharing the ball, keeping it simple and running the floor. I found that really good to see. We were good at the transition. And when we’re that good at defense against attack, we’re at our best. ”
After a monstrous second half, second striker David Roddy constructed his fifth double-double of the campaign with a 17-point outing with 14 rebounds. Veteran security guard Kendle Moore led the visitors with 18 points from an efficient 7-of-11 shooting clip.
And speaking of Roddy and Moore, who scored 21 points in the last 20 minutes, the late game dominance of both players helped the Rams hold off a fiery Richard Washington. Single-handedly, the senior reduced the Spartans’ deficit to 16 in the second half and lost 35 points in 6-of-13 shooting out of 3-point range.
Nevertheless, the productive solo act was nowhere near enough to overcome the CSU – which secured its best start with seven conference games in program history on Thursday.
“We just have to keep plowing forward here,” said Medved. “We’re not even halfway there. I’m glad we started well and got ourselves into position. But on to the next. As we tell our boys, this is about excellence, not success. They are two completely different things. And if we don’t get better, we get worse. So we have to keep improving and sticking to it, and the rest will take care of itself. ”
Next, the Rams will face the Spartans again on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. (CET) while Medved’s group watches their third series in the Mountain West game.