Even with just seven available scholarship players, Colorado State just won't go away from the regular season conference title race. The Rams used a double-double from senior forward Emmanuel Omogbo - his Mountain West leading 13th of the season - to cruise to a 69-49 win over UNLV Saturday. The Rams swept the Rebels for the season and earned their first win at UNLV since 2011.
Omogbo, who the Rams have heavily relied on during conference play, scored 22 points and collected 13 rebounds, pushing his league-leading rebounds per game mark to 10.7. Omogbo now averages 13.8 points per game, and with his improving totals, is strongly in the conversation for Mountain West Player of the Year.
CSU jumped out to a 7-0 lead thanks to a pair of field goals from Omogbo and a three-pointer from fellow senior star Gian Clavell. The Rebels were an anemic 4-for-24 from three-point range for the game, while shooting just 30.5 percent from the field and making just over half their free throws for the game.
Poor shot selection from UNLV combined with tenacious defense from the Rams and strong transition offense enabled the Rams to dominate from start to finish. The Rams led for the entire game after make the game's first basket.
"We were very patient and made them guard us a long time, and shot a good percentage because of it," CSU head coach Larry Eustachy said after the win. "And for a young team, with five young guys, to go on someone else’s court and not let the game break you down is quite a feat."
Clavell once again saved his best for the game's final half. After scoring just 3 points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half, Clavell went off for 15 second half points, finishing with 18 for the game. The senior played all 40 minutes for the Rams. Prentiss Nixon was strong in support, earning several big charges and chipping in with 11 points.
Tyrell Green was the only Rebel in double-figures scoring, finishing with 11 for the game. While the Rebels have struggled to gain any footing in conference play, the Rams know any conference win, especially on the road, is huge down the stretch.
"I think timing has something to do with it," Eustachy added. "We came off a tough loss and know why we got beat last game. But I think this group is not your average group. They’re competitive, though awfully young. We expected to win this game. The home court diminishes as the year goes on – saw it against Boise and here today – in my experience."
The Rams are 12-1 on the year when leading at halftime. The 49 points given up was also a season-low for the Rams, who stifled the Rebels all game long. CSU dominated the season series with UNLV, winning by an average margin of 16 points.
CSU returns to Fort Collins for a Tuesday night showdown against Utah State, a team the Rams defeated 64-56 in Logan on January 21. Tipoff at Moby Arena is set for 7 p.m. MST.