From the outset of the 2016-17 season, Colorado State got into the habit of playing a sluggish first half. But the Rams used a quick start Saturday in Las Vegas to get a 69-49 win over the Rebels.
CSU (15-9, 7-4) took little time to get comfortable at Thomas and Mack Center as they scored the game’s first seven points. In what would be a common theme for UNLV, the Rebels struggled mightily from the field, making just one of their first seven shots.
The Rams spread the ball efficiently on offense with five different players scoring in the first eight minutes. Emmanuel Omogbo took control with 14 first half points, but was limited to just 10 minutes with foul trouble.
Toward the end of the half, both teams had trouble putting points on the board. CSU and UNLV combined to go 2-for-12 as the Rams held a 26-20 lead. Any momentum heading into halftime for the Rebels was halted when a Prentiss Nixon breakaway dunk followed up an Anthony Bonner 3-pointer.
CSU led 31-24 at the break paced by Omogbo and a defense that held the Rebels to just 33 percent from the field.
It didn’t take long for the green and gold to increase their lead coming out of halftime. UNLV made only one of their first 12 second half shots, allowing CSU to put together a 10-0 run sparked by consecutive 3’s from Gian Clavell.
The Omogbo-Clavell proved lethal once again. Clavell put on another second half show in which he scored 15 of his 18 points. Omogbo, meanwhile, recorded his 13th double-double, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with his game-high 22 points.
Saturday marked CSU’s first win at Thomas and Mack since 2011.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Omogbo – The senior forward continues to gain confidence on the offensive end. Omogbo made 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc and finished 9-of-12 from the field.
BY THE NUMBERS
40 – Combined points for what can be argued as the best duo in the conference. When Clavell and Omogbo get into a rhythm offensively, CSU is tough to beat.
54 – The Rams shot 54 percent in the second half and 46 percent for the game.
0:00 – UNLV never led in a game that CSU controlled from start to finish.
CSU now sits just a half game behind conference-leading Boise State and Nevada. It’s likely the NCAA selection committee will pass over the Mountain West for an at-large bid, but by continuing to pile up wins, the Rams increase their shot at a lengthy conference tournament run.
Eustachy and company return home for a two-game homestand that starts Tuesday night when Utah State comes to town. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Moby Arena.