PUEBLO, Colo. (February 16, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (17-7, 15-4 RMAC) closes the home portion of the regular season with a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest against Colorado Christian University (12-12, 9-9 RMAC) Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
With a 15-4 RMAC record, the ThunderWolves are third in the RMAC standings and have secured a first round home game in the RMAC Shootout.
The Pack were No. 8 in the first edition of the NCAA South Central Region rankings, announced Wednesday.
The CSU-Pueblo Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will be collecting signatures at the doors Saturday for the TextLess Live More campaign, which focuses on ending distracted driving. Fans not in attendance can sign the pledge online on Saturday HERE.
Last Time Out
CSU-Pueblo dominated the final 20 minutes of a RMAC road game at Westminster College Feb. 10 to post an 85-69 victory.
The ThunderWolves knocked down 11 3-pointers, six in the second half, to run away with the win and snap the Griffins' (13-7, 13-5 RMAC) eight-game winning streak. WC shot just 35 percent in the second half after a 57.9 percentage in the first.
Both sophomore Gavin Liggett and junior Josh Smith each hit four 3-pointers to guide the Pack. Smith finished with 16 points and four rebounds with three steals, while Liggett was 4-for-4 from long range and totaled 14 points.
Senior Rico Spikes recorded 15 points, six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Junior Will Newman posted 13 points on an 8-for-9 (88.9%) effort from the free throw line with five rebounds. Senior Nelson Kahler recorded eight points, a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks.
Despite getting outshot by 16 percent, the Pack forced 12 turnovers in the first half and led by the score of 39-34.
CSU-Pueblo started the second half on a 19-6 run that brought the frame all the wat to the 14 minute mark. After all five starters contributed to the run, the Pack led 58-40. The ThunderWolves continued to push the lead, as it hit 20 just minutes later, 63-43.
The advantage never dipped below 15 in the 16-point victory.
The Cougars are 12-12 overall and 9-9 in league play to sit eighth. CCU has a 1-6 record since Jan. 17, which was a home loss to the ThunderWolves. In that stretch they have played four of the top five teams in the league five times. Colorado Christian is third in the league with 82.7 points per game, but ranks 14th in scoring defense after allowing 83.4 points per contest. CCU ranks third in the league in both field goal percentage (48.6%) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.2). The Cougars have three players scoring 17 or more points per game, guided by Brett Brady's 18.9 points per game. Ty McGee adds 17.5 points and a team-high 71. rebounds per contest.
Last Time Versus the Cougars
The Pack traveled to Lakewood Jan. 17 and defeated the Cougars 98-94. Rico Spikes totaled 26 points and added 11 rebounds. Josh Smith shot 6-of-10 from long range to tally 20 points and Nelson Kahler racked up 12 points and a program record 10 blocked shots.
The Pack are shooting 50.5 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 10th nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and 15 of the 24 contests. The ThunderWolves are 11-4 when shooting above the 50 percent mark.
The Pack have five players shooting above 50 percent, guided by Mark Williams' 58.1 percentage, which is 35th nationally. Nelson Kahler owns a 57.9 percentage this season to sit seventh in the RMAC.
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 77 blocks this season to again lead the league and rank fifth nationally. The 3.21 swats per game is fifth in NCAA Division II. Second place in the RMAC owns 38 blocks, 39 less than Kahler.
The program record for blocks in a season is 80 by Mark Jung (1982-83). Kahler is currently second on the school's season list.
Kahler has swatted 141 shot attempts in his two seasons with the Pack to rank second on the all-time list. The career record is held by Bennie Johnson, who totaled 167 blocks from 1980-84.
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 (Jan. 17). 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 fourth nationally in total blocks with 138. The 5.8 blocked shots per game is fourth 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 12th.
RMAC Player of the Week
Center Nelson Kahler has used his big block numbers to earn RMAC Defensive Player of the Week honors three times this season (Jan. 9, Jan. 16, Feb. 13). He owns seven career weekly league honors.
The ThunderWolves are 9-2 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 51-27 (.654) record. This season the ThunderWolves are outscoring opponents 84.5-72.5 at Massari Arena.
Guards Leading the Way
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.1 points per game (17th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 17 of the 24 games. He is shooting 58.1 percent from the field (sixth in RMAC) and adds 5.9 rebounds per game (16th in RMAC).
The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.7 rebounds per contest to sit ninth in the RMAC. His 3.6 assists per game is eighth in the league, while the senior's 55.7 percent from the field ranks 11th. His 1.4 assist/turnover ratio is 12th, while the 13.0 points per game is 26th.
Will Newman's 4.0 assists per game (97 total) ranks fifth in the conference. His 1.9 assist/turnover ratio is sixth and the 1.4 steals per game (33 total) are also sixth in the league, while the 84.8 percent from the charity stripe is ninth.
Josh Smith owns 1.4 steals per game (33 total) to rank sixth in the RMAC.
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 39.4 percent clip from long range to sit fourth in the league and 41st nationally. CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 8.6 3-pointers per contest, which is fifth in the RMAC.
Josh Smith has 60 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh in the RMAC, while Gavin Liggett's 2.3 3-pointers per game is 10th (50 daggers from downtown). Liggett has shot 50-of-106 (47.2%) from long range this season to rank fifth in the 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 fourth most in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.
The Pack are third in the conference with 15.4 assists per game.
CSU-Pueblo dished out 25 assists in the win against New Mexico Highlands Feb. 7.
The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 34th in the country with 85.2 points per game. The team's +8.8 scoring margin is third in the conference and 45th in Division II.
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 97-68 (.591) 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.