Colorado State returns to action
The Rams look to start conference play in winning fashion.
Matchup: Colorado State Vs. Air Force
Time: 9 PM EST
Stream: Mountain West Network
The Mountain West’s top team hasn’t played since their December 11th victory over Mississippi State in Texas. It’s been just shy of a month since Colorado State hit the court due to COVID-19 protocols. Last week’s scheduled conference opener against New Mexico got axed due to COVID-19, so the Rams are the lone team without playing a conference game. The Rams host in-state Rival, Air Force.
Refresher on the Rams: I mentioned it’d been nearly an entire month since we saw Colorado State basketball, so let’s get a quick refresher course on the team.
Colorado State is the top-ranked three-point shooting team in America, making 43 percent of threes in 10 games. No Ram has attempted more than 40 threes — the teams’ top shooter percentage-wise is John Tonje, making 58 percent of 29 shots. The current conference player of the year frontrunner, David Roddy, averages over 20 points per game. Five players with at least 15 attempted threes shoot above 36 percent.
Dynamic point guard Isaiah Stevens ranks fifth among all NCAA D1 players in assists-per-game, with 7.3 per-game — Only trailing Jalen Moore (Oakland), Yuri Collins (Saint Louis), Sahvir Wheeler (Kentucky), and Taran Armstrong (California Baptist.) There’ll be no shortage of wins in the win column with a duo like Roddy & Stevens.
It’s worth watching if Colorado State’s very efficient offense takes time to get back on track. Not having any game action in three weeks is tough — There’s no amount of practice replicating conference basketball’s intensity. Thankfully, the Rams can ease back into play facing the struggling Air Force defense.
Air Force’s struggles:
The Falcons are 1-3 in their past four games but stunned Utah State last week despite scoring below 50 points for the fourth consecutive game. Give credit where credit is due — Air Force holding the Aggies to 47 points is incredible, but part of the issue was on Utah State missing makeable shots. You aren’t winning many basketball games going 1-19 from deep. I don’t suspect Air Force will benefit from that kind of shooting struggles here.
If Air Force sneaks out the win, making shots is important. However, slowing down the pace is key too; with the offense Air Force runs, trying to outrun Colorado State isn’t the ideal scenario. AFA’s leading scorer, A.J. Walker, is 3-16 in the past three games — Walker’s more than just a shooter, but those struggles are an outlier based on his career track record. Aside from Walker, freshman Jake Heidbreider’s emerged as the second scoring option — scoring 29 combined points in the past two games.
Keys to the game:
Colorado State: Knocking off the rust. Keeping the defense engaged will keep Colorado State ahead if the offense isn’t clicking early on.
Air Force: Slowing down the pace. As mentioned earlier, if the game is in the 70 or 80 point range, the Falcons don’t score enough to keep pace.
Colorado State 77
Air Force 56