Rams struggle mightily in lopsided loss to Wyoming

LARAMIE, Wyo. — They say that mamas shouldn’t let their babies grow up to be cowboys, but Willie Nelson might have to change the lyrics after Saturday’s beatdown at Arena Auditorium. Wyoming started the afternoon on an 8-0 run and never slowed down as the Cowboys cruised to a 74-66 victory over Colorado State.

“Give credit to Wyoming—they completely outplayed us,” head coach Niko Medved said. “They were tougher, they were more together, they were more poised, they played with more energy (and) they just completely took it to us in every way possible.”

Led by Justin James, the Pokes shot a season-high 54.2 percent from 3-point range in Wyoming’s second victory of conference play. In Wyoming’s first 22 games this season, the Cowboys only shot 50 percent or more from beyond the arc one other time.

James, a senior guard out of Point Saint Lucie, Fla., came into the matchup as Wyoming’s leading scorer at 20 points per game and he certainly did not disappoint the home crowd on Saturday. James made 10-of-14 attempts from the field and paced the Pokes in total points (36) and assists (7). In his collegiate career, James has now scored 10 or more points in six-of-seven games against the Rams.

“We started off stagnant with the zone and let Justin James get comfortable,” Nico Carvacho said. “We didn’t come out with enough energy.”

Along with James, freshman guard Trace Young (13) had a strong showing on the offensive end. Young made 5-of-11 field goal attempts and nearly matched his career-high of 16 points.

While it was a fairly efficient shooting day for Wyoming, CSU struggled mightily. The Rams missed all seven 3-point shots they took in the first half and finished the game 7-of-22 from beyond the arc. In total, CSU shot 42.3 percent from the floor, compared to Wyoming’s 47.9 percent. After the game, Medved explained how frustrating the lack of effort was on both ends of the floor.

“It’s beyond frustrating, that’s the one thing you can control,” Medved said. “I’m a big believer that no matter where you play, you better bring an effort that you think it’s going to take to beat them at their best… We have to play one way to be successful. We have talent on this team, but we’re not the most talented team. We’ve got to play together.”

A big part of the problem was CSU did not value its offensive possessions. The Rams struggled with turnovers throughout the game and only recorded nine assists as a team in the loss.

The lone bright spots for CSU was Carvacho, who became the program’s all-time leader in double-doubles (29) with a 15-point, 17-board performance. The ‘Big Chile’ now needs just three rebounds to surpass Pat Durham (1986-89) and become CSU’s leading rebounder of all-time. J.D. Paige paced CSU with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting as well.

After dropping back-to-back contests, CSU will look to get back in the winning column on Tuesday when San Diego State comes to town for a nationally televised showdown between conference foes.