Men's basketball lifts the lid on home season with UCCS Friday

Men's basketball lifts the lid on home season with UCCS Friday

PUEBLO, Colo. (November 17, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team begins the home portion of its 2016-17 schedule Friday when it hosts league rival University of Colorado Colorado Springs in a nonconference bout at Massari Arena. The contest is set to begin at 7 p.m. is a part of the 33rd Annual Al Kaly Classic.

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Last Time Out: The ThunderWolves started the season 0-2 despite owning late double-digit leads in both contests last weekend in Oklahoma. The Pack started the season against Rogers State and led for the final 26:47 of the game, before RSU used two free throws following a bench technical on CSU-Pueblo with 23 ticks left. The ThunderWolves, after leading by as much as 10 in the second half, lost 85-82. The Pack had six players score in double figures, guided by 15 points from both junior guard Will Newman (Lawndale, Calif.) and senior forward Stevan Radakovic (Belgrade, Serbia).

The next day the ThunderWolves opened a 17-point advantage on No. 23 Arkansas-Fort Smith early in the second half and was able to maintain the lead until the final minutes of the game. CSU-Pueblo was ahead 83-73 with 2:44 remaining after senior center Nelson Kahler (Noosa Heads, Australia) recorded a layup. The Pack would fail to score the rest of the way, as UAFS rattled off 15 unanswered points to complete the comeback and win 88-83. Sophomore Gavin Ligget (G, Limon, Colo.) recorded 19 points and added four rebounds with three assists. He knocked down five of the Pack's 11 3-pointers and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Bench Play: The Pack scored 28 points off the bench in the opener, then followed with 30 against UAFS. Radakovic has played a big part in that, as he is averaging 14 points per game, while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor and adding 10 total rebounds. Newcomer Mark Williams (Chino Hills, Calif.) has also added 14 points per contest and shot 58.8 percent. The two are tied for second on the team in scoring behind Ligget's 14.5 points per game.

Long Range: The ThunderWolves finished 10th nationally last season with 11.0 3-pointers per game and hit on a 37.7 percentage (fourth in the RMAC). In the first two games, the Pack have knocked down 18 3-pointers (9 per contest) and are shooting at a 42.9 percent clip. Ligget leads the team with seven daggers from downtown (7-for-13, 53.8%).

Block Party: Kahler finished first in the RMAC with 64 blocks last season, which ranked 22nd nationally. His 2.21 blocks per game was 21st. He swatted away four shot attempts last weekend.

Scouting UCCS: The Mountain Lions also started 0-2 with road losses to Texas-Permian Basin, 93-86, and No. 10 Tarleton State, 73-64. Justin Smith leads the team with 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. UCCS finished last season with a 17-13 overall record (14-8 RMAC). The Mountain Lions were pegged to finish fifth in the conference this season.

Last time vs UCCS: The ThunderWolves won the lone meeting against UCCS last season, 98-91 in overtime in Massari Arena. Kahler totaled a career-high 30 points and added 10 rebounds with four blocks. Junior guard Josh Smith (Colorado Springs) was the second leading scorer with 21 points (6-of-8 from 3-point land).

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics