PUEBLO, Colo. (February 2, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (14-6, 12-3 RMAC) begins a three-game homestand Feb. 3-4, as they entertain a pair of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foes. Friday, the Pack welcome Adams State University (10-11, 7-8 RMAC) at 7:30 p.m., while Saturday the Pack battle No. 14 Fort Lewis College (18-3, 13-2 RMAC) beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The ThunderWolves enter the weekend alone in third in the RMAC standings (12-3 record) with one game separating them from first.
Saturday, Denver Nuggets Super Mascot Rocky visits Massari Arena for Take a Kid to the Game Night. All kids 14 and under are FREE and CSU-Pueblo Athletics will provide a kid's zone with face painting, tattoos and autographs from both the Pack basketball programs.
Saturday's contest is also scheduled to air live on Comast CET (105/900HD).
Last Time Out
The ThunderWolves rebounded from a home loss Jan. 21 with a pair of road victories Jan. 27-28. The Pack ran away with the win at Chadron State College, 85-55 behind 53.2 percent shooting from the floor, while allowing CSC to hit on just 30.2 percent.
Junior Mark Williams scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half to guide the Pack. He was 8-for-10 from the field (80%) and added six rebounds.
Senior Rico Spikes added 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Junior Will Newman posted 11 points, a team-high seven rebounds with two steals. Off the bench, senior Braydon Kuiper recorded 12 points and five rebounds.
The next night, CSU-Pueblo trailed for most of the first 25 minutes of the game, but posted an 11-2 run to open a 57-49 lead with 13:08 left. The lead went to double-digits for the first time at 62-51 just a minute later. Sophomore Gavin Liggett knocked down six 3-pointers against the Rangers with his final dagger giving the Pack a 71-57 advantage with just under 10 minutes remaining.
All five Pack starters scored in double figures. Liggett finished with 18 on a 6-of-9 (66.7%) shooting performance from long range. Newman posted 21 points, six rebounds and six assists to keep the ThunderWolves rolling. He went 11-of-14 from the line.
Spikes recorded 15 points, four rebounds and four assists on 5-of-10 (50%) shooting from the field. Williams and senior Nelson Kahler totaled 12 points. Williams added six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Kahler totaled two blocks and shot 5-for-7 (71.4%) from the field.
Adams State had won five straight before losing to Colorado Mines last Saturday and are 7-8 in league play. The Grizzlies are fourth in the RMAC with 80.9 points per game, but are allowing 81.9 points per contest to sit 13th. ASU is shooting 47 percent from the field to rank fifth in the conference. Brandon Sly guides the team with 15.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Jarrett Givens adds 13.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
Last Time versus the Grizzlies
The Pack visited Alamosa earlier this season and defeated the Grizzlies 80-75. Mark Williams dropped 18 points and added a team-high eight rebounds.
The Skyhawks rank third nationally in both field goal percentage (52.7%) and 3-point percentage (43.3%). FLC is scoring 90.5 points per game (ninth nationally) and owns a +15.8 scoring average (12th in NCAA Division II). Fort Lewis has won six straight and are 13-2 in league play to sit in a tie for first. Both Joshua Blaylock and Rasmus Bach own 19.0 points per game and are shooting over 50 percent. Blaylock is shooting 48.9 percent from long range to rank 13th nationally. Will Morse owns 5.2 assists per game to rank second in the RMAC.
Last Time versus the Skayhawks
The Pack opened RMAC play at Fort Lewis and fell to the Skyhawks 105-97 in overtime. The ThunderWolves led by four with 30 seconds left of regulation, but left the door open for FLC to tie the game and force OT at 89-89. Both Rico Spikes and Will Newman recorded 21 points in the game.
The Pack are shooting 50.7 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 13th nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and 12 of the 18 contests. The Pack have six players shooting above 50 percent, guided by Mark Williams' 57.4 percentage, which is sixth in the RMAC and 44th nationally.
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 65 blocks this season to again lead the league and rank third nationally. The 3.3 swats per game is also third in NCAA Division II.
Kahler has swatted 129 shot attempts in his two seasons with the Pack to rank third on the all-time list.
After recording nine blocks against UCCS Jan. 14 to tie the school record, the senior established a new program record with 10 at Colorado Christian. The mark is the most by an RMAC player since the 2012-13 season and ranks tied for second in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.
As a team, the ThunderWolves lead the RMAC and rank second nationally in total blocks with 115. The 5.8 blocked shots per game is also second in NCAA Division II.
The Pack swatted 15 shot attempts against UCCS Jan. 14 to hold the second most team blocks in a game in NCAA Division II this season. The 12 the ThunderWolves posted against CCU Jan. 17 ranked tied for 10th.
RMAC Player of the Week
Center Nelson Kahler has used his big block numbers to earn RMAC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this season (Jan. 9 and Jan. 16). He owns six career weekly league honors.
The ThunderWolves are 7-1 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 49-26 (.653) record. This season the ThunderWolves are outscoring opponents 84.3-71.6 at Massari Arena.
Guards Leading the Way
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.3 points per game (15th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 13 of the 20 games. He is shooting 57.4 percent from the field (sixth in RMAC) and adds 6.0 rebounds per game (15th in RMAC).
The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.9 rebounds per contest to sit eighth in the RMAC. His 3.3 assists per game is 10th in the league, while the senior's 56.3 percent from the field ranks tied for eighth. His 12.8 points per game is 26th.
Will Newman's 4.3 assists per game (85 total) ranks fourth in the conference. His 1.9 assist/turnover ratio and 1.6 steals per game are fifth in the league, while the 86.6 percent from the charity stripe is seventh. With 12.8 points per game, he ranks 27th.
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 41.3 percent clip from long range to sit 19th nationally. CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 8.9 3-pointers per contest, which is fourth in the RMAC.
Josh Smith has 50 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh in the RMAC, while Liggett's 2.3 3-pointers per game is 10th (42 daggers from downtown). Liggett has shot 42-of-88 (47.7%) from long range this season to rank sixth 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 fourth most in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.
The Pack are third in the conference with 15.4 assists per game.
The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 38th in the country with 85.2 points per game. The team's +8.3 scoring margin is third in the conference.
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 94-67 (.584) 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.