Continuing a trend over the past two weeks, Gian Clavell saved his best for last. CSU's senior guard scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half, propelling the Rams to a dominant, 69-52 win over Utah State. The win keeps CSU within a game of Mountain West leader Boise State in the conference standings.
"We're special and we feel like we can do something special in the Mountain West," senior forward Emmanuel Omogbo told reporters after the win. "We just have to stay solid, have faith in our team."
It was Clavell's 12th consecutive game scoring in double figures. At one point in the second half, Clavell scored 14 straight points for the Rams including four possessions in a row that ended in a Clavell three-point make.
"What can you say about Gian Clavell. He's the second-best guard I've ever coached, and he is," Rams head coach Larry Eustachy said after the win. "He is a very unselfish player and he tries to get his teammates involved early. He takes a lot of pride in taking on the best player, if he’s a perimeter guy, and stopping him.”
Not only is Clavell peaking offensively, but he is CSU's best shut down defender. He helped limit Utah State's best scorers, keeping Jalen Moore to just 10 points and Koby McEwen to 8 points.
"Gian's playing 39 minutes and he's guarding the best players on the other team, too," Omogbo added.
Omogbo notched his 14th double-double of the year, the most in the conference. He struggled from the field, going 4-of-10, but his teammates picked him up. Nico Carvacho chipped in with 11 points and 8 rebounds, while Prentiss Nixon somewhat stealthily stuffed the stat sheet, going for 11 points, 7 rebounds and a team-high 7 assists.
CSU did struggle to rebound the ball early, as the Aggies grabbed 12 offensive rebounds. USU, however, missed eight layups, which masked the fact the Rams didn't rebound the ball as well as they could have.
"We've got to rebound the ball a lot better," Eustachy said. "We need to practice, that's the bottom line."
CSU shot 40 percent from the field, but the Rams started out slow, going 1-for-6 from the field. Utah State fared worse, going 0-for-7 with three missed layups. The first half was a close affair until the Rams finished the final 2:30 on a 10-0 run. For a second straight game, CSU's opponent never led from start to finish.
The Rams (16-9, 8-4 MWC) finish a two-game homestand against Fresno State on Saturday. With another big conference win, the short-handed Rams know a regular season conference championship is a very real possibility.
"I said it at the beginning of the year...'We have a chance to win it.' We are good enough," Clavell said after the game. "We have seven good players that can get the job done. We are in good shape. We just have to get it done."