PUEBLO, Colo. (January 12, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (9-5, 7-2 RMAC) is set for two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference home games against Metro State University of Denver (10-5, 6-3 RMAC) Jan. 13 and University of Colorado Colorado Springs (5-9, 4-5 RMAC) Jan. 14. Both games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.
High School Night
Saturday's doubleheader brings high school night to Massari Arena. All high school and middle school students will receive free admission Saturday night with their student IDs.
CSU-Pueblo admissions will have a booth at the game to give high school students more insights into the academic programs offered at the University. High school seniors who stop by this booth will have their application fee waived, when applying to CSU-Pueblo.
Last Time Out
The ThnderWolves had their six-game win streak halted in overtime at South Dakota Mines, 84-81, before rebounding for an 80-60 victory at Black Hills State the next night. With the split road weekend, the Pack moved to 7-2 in RMAC play, which stands in a three-way tie for second and just a half game out of first.
The ThunderWolves overcame a 20-point deficit in the second half to force overtime against the Hardrockers, but failed to keep the momentum going in the overtime session to suffer their first loss in over a month.
CSU-Pueblo trailed 43-33 at the half, then deficit was 20, thanks to a 13-3 run over the first 4:19 of the second frame. A 23-5 Pack blitz of brought them back within two, 63-61. Minutes later the Pack would take the first lead since it was 24-23, when a Nelson Kahler free throw gave the Pack a 68-67 edge with 4:04 left.
The teams traded buckets during the final minutes and sat tied 74-74 at the final horn. In the extra frame, the Pack went 3:30 without a point and would suffer the three point loss.
Kahler led the Pack with 19 points and he pulled down 10 rebounds to earn his first double-double of the season. Defensively, Kahler swatted away five shots, his third game this season with five or more blocks. Fellow senior Rico Spikes earned his second double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He also dealt out three assists.
Playing for the second time in eight days, the Pack squashed Black Hills State 80-60 Saturday behind a double-double effort from junior Mark Williams.
He scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to earn his first double-double with the Pack. Williams contributed three assists, a steal, and a block while making all three of his free throws.
Junior Will Newman led all players with 19 points, while Kahler chipped in 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Spikes delivered another complete performance with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Roadrunners are 2-3 in their last five games, but had previously rattled off six straight victories. MSU Denver handed Fort Lewis its second conference loss last Friday with a home win, 80-65. The Roadrunners then fell 85-81 to Adams State. Cameron Williams leads the team with 17.8 points, which sits seventh in the RMAC. Sunday Dech adds 14.2 points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds per game. MSU Denver leads the league with a +7.9 rebounding margin and is fourth in scoring margin with a +5 mark.
Last Season versus the Roadrunners
The Pack defeated MSU Denver 90-83 last season at Massari Arena. Will Newman came off the bench and dropped 28 points on a 5-for-5 effort from downtown. Nelson Kahler added 17 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
The Mountain Lions
The Mountain Lions have won two of the last three following a four-game losing streak. Last weekend UCCS defeated Adams State 94-81 and then fell to Fort Lewis 83-79. Seven different players have led the team in scoring in their 14 games this season, while TreShawn Wilford is the team's leader with 13.6 points per game. He also owns a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game. UCCS is third in the league with a +3.9 rebounding margin. The Mountain Lions own a -1.4 scoring margin, which is good for 10th in the RMAC.
Last Time versus the Mountain Lions
The ThunderWolves rolled to a 22-point victory, 83-61, against the Mountain Lions earlier this season. Three players totaled a team-best 16 points. Last year at Massari Arena, the Pack needed overtime to win 98-91. Nelson Kahler posted 30 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in last year's win.
The Pack are shooting 50.1 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 23rd nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and nine of the 14 contests. The Pack have four players shooting above 55 percent, guided by Nelson Kahler's 56.8 percent, which ranks seventh in the RMAC.
Nelson Kahler finished first in the RMAC with 64 blocks last season, which ranked 22nd nationally. His 2.21 blocks per game was 21st. He owns 39 blocked shots this season to again lead the league and rank eighth nationally. The 2.79 swats per game is seventh in NCAA Division II.
As a team, the ThunderWolves lead the RMAC and rank 21st nationally in total blocks with 70. The 5.0 blocked shots per game is 13th in NCAA Division II.
The ThunderWolves are 5-0 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 47-25 (.653) record. The Pack are 9-1 in their last 10 at home.
The Pack have scored more points off the bench than their opponent in nine of 14 games this season.
Guards Leading the Way
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.2 points per game (15th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 12 of the 14 games. He is shooting 56.6 percent from the field (eighth in RMAC) and adds 6.0 rebounds per game (16th in RMAC). The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.7 rebounds per contest to sit eighth in the RMAC. His 3.4 assists per game is 10th in the league, while the senior's 55.4 percent from the field ranks 11th. Will Newman's 4.3 assists per game (60 total) ranks tied for fourth in the conference. His 2.0 assist/turnover ratio is good for fifth in the RMAC, the 1.6 steals per game is sixth, while is 86.1 percent from the charity stripe is sixth.
The ThunderWolves finished 10th nationally last season with 11.0 3-pointers per game and hit on a 37.7 percentage (4th in the RMAC). This season, the Pack are shooting at a 40.3 percent clip from long range to sit 30th nationally. CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 9.0 3-pointers per contest, which is fourth in the RMAC.
Josh Smith has 37 buckets from beyond the arc to sit sixth in the RMAC, while Gavin Liggett's 33 daggers from downtown is seventh. Liggett has shot 33-of-69 (47.8%) from long range this season to sit 23rd nationally (8th in RMAC).
Liggett hit nine against Texas A&M Commerce Nov. 25 to fall one shy of the program record. The mark is the most in the RMAC this season and is tied for the third most in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.
The Pack are third in the conference with 15.8 assists per game.
The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 52nd in the country with 84.5 points per game. The team's +7.0 scoring margin is third.
Head Coach Ralph Turner is looking for win number 90 as the CSU-Pueblo bench boss, as he owns an 89-66 (.574) record in six seasons. He owns the third most wins in ThunderWolves men's basketball history.
The Dec. 30 win against Black Hills State was the 450th in his storied men's basketball career that spans 21 seasons.