Niko Medved believes in a certain style of offense — give the ball up, get it back and score easy baskets. As he’s said after plenty of games this year, that’s the way basketball should be played.
On Saturday afternoon in Moby Arena, the Rams (7-10, 2-2 Mountain West) bought into their coach’s beliefs better than they have all year, leading to a telling 91-76 victory over visiting New Mexico (8-8, 2-2 MW).
“I thought we did a beautiful job attacking the zone early,” Medved said. “We kept it simple, got it in the middle, made really good decisions when we got it in there, evidenced with 26 assists, nine turnovers. Really proud of the way our guys played.”
In a matter of minutes of the opening tip, the offensive flow was evident as Kendle Moore confidently ran the point and found open teammates from outside. He assisted on three 3-pointers in the opening three minutes to build on the offensive momentum they mustered against Air Force and signify what was to come for the remainder of the game.
It only continued throughout the half as the Rams beat New Mexico’s press and played unselfishly with the ball in their hands, passing up a decent scoring opportunity to find an open teammate. The easier looks at the bucket led to a 62-percent clip from the field in the opening frame, including 16 assists on 21 made field goals.
“We stay together and we’ve got to play together to get these big key wins,” Hyron Edwards said. “New Mexico’s a great team, but we did our job today, it was perfect.”
Defensively, the Rams made a concerted effort to rotate into double-teams and pressure the ball handler often. The consistent pressure energized the entire Rams’ defense as they entered halftime leading 48-38.
“I think that a lot of teams are more selfish on defense than they are on offense,” Medved said. “In order to beat this team, we were gonna have to play great team defense. We didn’t always have ideal one-on-one matchups, so we had to really help each other effectively, and I thought our guys did that.”
While stretches of that type of basketball have benefitted the Rams on the season, they’ve largely been unable to maintain it over 40 minutes. Coming out of halftime on Saturday, though, it was more of the same as the ball moved freely on offense while defensive pressure was unwavering.
Even when Carvacho picked up his fourth foul of the game with 10:48 remaining, Logan Ryan filled in with his best collegiate game, finishing with 12 points and playing stout defense in his elder’s absence.
There were multiple possessions in the half where all five Rams seamlessly moved the ball, oftentimes ending with Ryan scoring under the basket.
“I like my role. I try to stay ready, and Nico usually gets in foul trouble a little bit, so I know I’m gonna get in there eventually,” Ryan joked. “I think we split time tonight, so it was good, we both played well.”
By the middle of the half, CSU had mounted a 20-point lead to virtually lock up their second consecutive victory, and over a team which beat a top-10 Nevada squad by 27 points, nonetheless. After registering a season-high 24 assists against Air Force last time out, the Rams wasted no time bettering that with 26 against the Lobos. Moore paved the way with nine assists, followed by Kris Martin’s seven and JD Paige’s six.
Though only seven guys played until the bench got time in the final minute, it was the most cohesion this team has shown all year. All seven scored and five reached double-figures as Edwards and Ryan outscored New Mexico’s entire bench by 17. Edwards finished with a season-high 20 points while shooting 8-of-11 from the floor.
“Just the same mindset, coming in and playing my role,” Edwards said. “My floaters and my mid-range game was on point tonight and I just made shots. I’m just feeling more comfortable game-by-game, practice-by-practice.”
Adam Thistlewood and Carvacho added 16, Paige 14 and Ryan 12. Stringing together victories after two tough losses to begin the conference play is only going to add to the momentum going into the bye week before travelling to Utah State next Saturday.”
“What I was really happy with our guys is their response from (UNLV),” Medved said. “They didn’t pout and those losses are tough. But we’ve kept improving and I think it really started in that game and we’ve carried it forward.”
Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.