PUEBLO, Colo. (January 16, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (11-5, 9-2 RMAC) travels to Lakewood, Colo. for a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest at Colorado Christian University (11-6, 8-3 RMAC) Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. The game is set to air live on Comcast CET 105/900 HD.
The ThunderWolves are 9-2 in RMAC play to sit a half game out of first place. The Pack trail Fort Lewis College's 10-2 record and are tied with Colorado School of Mines. CCU is the lone team with three conference losses at 8-3.
Senior Nelson Kahler was named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week Monday for the second consecutive week. He earned four weekly honors from the league last year.
The ThunderWolves have won nine of their last 10 games and are 7-0 at home after a 2-0 RMAC weekend Jan. 13-14 with wins against MSU Denver (89-70) and UCCS (104-74). At home this season the Pack are outscoring opponents 88.0-70.4. The win vs UCCS was the second 100-plus point game at home this season, as CSU-Pueblo ran past Western State Colorado University 103-80, Dec. 17.
In the two games, the Pack shot 56 percent and allowed just 34.9 percent.
Against UCCS, CSU-Pueblo totaled 15 blocks, which is a season-high in the RMAC this season. Leading the charge was senior Nelson Kahler, who tied the program record with nine. Kahler added 16 points on 7-of-9 (77.8%) shooting from the field. He also totaled six rebounds. He was one of six players in double-figures scoring.
Junior Mark Williams played just three minutes and didn't take a shot in the first half, but in 17 minutes of play in the second, he scored a team-high 17 points on 7-of-12 (58.3%) shooting from the field. He added five rebounds.
Junior Will Newman totaled 16 points, six assists and five rebounds with two steals and a block. He finished the weekend with 13 assists after entering the weekend fourth in the conference in assists per game.
Off the bench, redshirt-freshman Donovan Oldham had a career night with 15 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Junior Josh Smith was the first half spark with 10 of his 14 points coming in the opening 20 minutes. He finished with three daggers from downtown and added a career-high six assists with four rebounds and four steals (ties a career high). Twice the junior converted on a rare four-point play, once in each half.
Senior Rico Spikes had another stat-stuffed effort with 13 points, a game-high nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Pack shot 75 percent through the first 11 minutes against MSU Denver Friday. The ThunderWolves finished shooting 60 percent from the field.
CSU-Pueblo shot 58.8 percent from long range, which included an 80 percent effort (4-of-5) in the first half. Both percentages from the field and 3-point land were season highs for the team. The effort snapped a three game streak of shooting under 50 percent after starting the season with eight straight contests of 50 percent or better.
On the defensive end, the Pack held MSU Denver to 37.8 percent shooting from the field and just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Six players piled up nine or more points, guided by an 18-point effort by Newman. The junior shot 7-of-12 (58.3%) from the field and added seven assists with three steals and a block.
Williams added 16 points (13 in the first half) on 6-of-10 (60%) shooting and totaled seven rebounds. Spikes contributed 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and two assists. Oldham chipped in 11 points off the bench and went 6-for-8 (75%) from the free throw line.
The Cougars had won five straight before falling in back-to-back games Jan. 6 (at Westminster, 81-69) and Jan. 13 (vs Western State, 92-90). CCU responded Jan. 14 with a 76-72 win against Colorado Mesa to improve to 11-6 overall and 8-3 in league play. The Cougars are 5-1 at home this season. Ty McGee leads the team with 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Brett Brady ranks second in the RMAC with 57 3-pointers this season and owns 17.4 points per game. Colorado Christian sits third in the RMAC with 83.5 points per game, but are allowing 81.2 points per contest. The team is top three in the league in field goal percentage (49.6%) and 3-point field goal percentage (41.1%).
Last Season versus the Cougars
The Pack and Cougars had an epic battle last season in Lakewood where the ThunderWolves were on the losing end of a 115-113 contest. CSU-Pueblo shot 63.9 percent and hit 16 3-pointers, but allowed CCU to shoot 60.3 percent. Josh Smith totaled 21 points with five 3-pointers.
The Pack are shooting 50.9 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 12th nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and 11 of the 16 contests. The Pack have five players shooting above 50 percent, guided by Nelson Kahler's 58.4 percent, which ranks fifth in the RMAC and 41st nationally. Sitting ninth in the conference and 54th in NCAA Division II is Mark Williams.
Nelson Kahler finished first in the RMAC and 22nd nationally with 64 blocks last season. His 2.21 blocks per game was 21st. He owns 50 blocks this season to again lead the league and rank tied for fourth nationally. The 3.0 swats per game is sixth in NCAA Division II.
Kahler has swatted 114 shot attempts in his season and a half with the Pack to rank third on the all-time list.
As a team, the ThunderWolves lead the RMAC and rank fifth nationally in total blocks with 91. The 5.7 blocked shots per game is fourth in NCAA Division II.
The ThunderWolves are 7-0 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 49-25 (.662) record. This season the ThunderWolves are outscoring opponents 88.0-70.4 at Massari Arena.
Guards Leading the Way
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.5 points per game (17th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 12 of the 16 games. He is shooting 57.0 percent from the field (ninth in RMAC) and adds 6.0 rebounds per game (14th in RMAC).
The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.9 rebounds per contest to sit sixth in the RMAC. His 3.4 assists per game is 10th in the league, while the senior's 55.3 percent from the field ranks 12th.
Will Newman's 4.6 assists per game (73 total) ranks fourth in the conference. His 2.0 assist/turnover ratio and 1.7 steals per game are both fifth, while his 88.6 percent from the charity stripe is second. His 13.2 points per game is tied for 22nd.
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 41.1 percent clip from long range to sit 24th nationally. CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 9.1 3-pointers per contest, which is fourth in the RMAC.
Josh Smith has 43 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh in the RMAC, while Liggett's 33 daggers from downtown is 10th. Liggett has shot 33-of-69 (47.8%) from long range this season to rank 7th in the RMAC.
Gavin 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 16.1 assists per game, which sits 54th in Division II.
The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 36th in the country with 86.0 points per game. The team's +9.2 scoring margin is third in the conference and 48th nationally.
Head Coach Ralph Turner earned win number 90 with an 89-70 home win against MSU Denver Jan. 13. As the CSU-Pueblo bench boss, he owns an 91-66 (.580) 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 collegiate head coaching career that spans 21 seasons.
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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