PUEBLO, Colo. (February 23, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (18-7, 16-4 RMAC) caps the regular season schedule on the road with a pair of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference games at Western State Colorado University (5-19, 4-16 RMAC) Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and at Colorado Mesa University (7-19, 6-14 RMAC) Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
With a 16-4 RMAC record, the ThunderWolves are third in the RMAC standings and have secured a first round home game in the RMAC Shootout Feb. 28. The Pack are a game back from Fort Lewis College and Colorado School of Mines for first place in the RMAC.
The Pack were No. 7 in the second edition of the NCAA South Central Region rankings.
Milestone Watch List
- The ThunderWolves have tied the program record for conference wins with 16 this season. The 2014-15 squad finished the league slate 16-6.
- The Pack haven't finished third or better in the conference standings since tying for the Colorado Athletic Conference championship in 1995-96.
- Sixth-year Head Coach Ralph Turner is two wins shy of 100 as the Pack bench boss.
- Two wins would also secure the program's seventh 20-win season and second in the last three years (21-9 in 2014-15).
- Senior Nelson Kahler is two blocks shy of tying the program record for single-season blocks. He owns 78 blocked shots this season.
Last Time Out
The ThunderWolves hit seven of their 11 3-pointers in the first five minutes off the second half to turn a two-point halftime deficit into a 16-point lead. The run guided the Pack to a 87-79 RMAC victory Saturday against Colorado Christian on Senior Night at Massari Arena.
Before the game, the Pack recognized five senior members of the team, which included Nelson Kahler and Rico Spikes. Kahler finished with 17 points on a perfect 8-for-8 effort from the field and added a career-high 14 rebounds. Spikes recorded his second straight home game with 10 assists, as he posted 12 points, 10 helpers, five rebounds and two steals. It was Spikes' fifth double-double of the season and Nelson's third.
Gavin Liggett knocked down four of his five 3-pointers in the first 2:39 of the second half to spark the seven Pack daggers from downtown in the early goings of the second half. He finished with 15 points.
Mark Williams kept the ThunderWolves in the game in the first half with 17 of his 21 points. He finished 9-for-15 (60%) from the field and added six rebounds (four on the offensive glass) with three assists.
The Mountaineers have lost six straight and nine of their last 10 games to sit 5-19 overall and 4-16 in conference play. WSCU averages 79.1 points per game to sit fifth in the league, but have allowed a league-worst 85.5 points per contest. Western State has hit on 39 percent of its 3-point attempts to rank sixth in the league. Ben Beauchamp guides three players scoring in double figures with 19.1 points per game (second in the RMAC).
Last Time Versus the Mountaineers
The Pack won 103-80 in a December home meeting with WSCU. The Pack hit 15 3-pointers and shot 59.7 percent from the field in the win. Nelson Kahler totaled 19 points.
The Mavericks have lost four straight and own a 7-19 overall record with a 6-14 mark in RMAC play. CMU has totaled five of their seven wins at home this season (5-6 overall).Colorado Mesa has a league-worst -6.9 rebounding margin, but is second in the RMAC in turnover margin with a +2.46 mark. Eimer Lopez leads the team with 13.9 points per game on 53.4 percent shooting from the field.
Last Time Versus the Mavericks
The Pack hosted CMU in December and defeated the Mavericks 85-75. Will Newman and Mark Williams each totaled 17 points.
The Pack are shooting 50.5 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 15 of the 25 contests. The ThunderWolves are 11-4 when shooting above the 50 percent mark.
The Pack have five players shooting above 50 percent, guided by Nelson Kahler's 59.5 percent, which is 27th nationally. Mark Williams' 58.3 percentage, which is 34th 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 78 blocks this season to again lead the league and rank fifth nationally. The 3.12 swats per game is fifth in NCAA Division II. Second place in the RMAC owns 42 blocks, 36 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 142 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 seventh nationally in total blocks with 140. The 5.6 blocked shots per game is third 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 10-2 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 52-27 (.658) record. This season the ThunderWolves are outscoring opponents 84.7-73 at Massari Arena.
Guards Leading the Way
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.4 points per game (16th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 18 of the 25 games. He is shooting 58.3 percent from the field (sixth in RMAC) and adds 5.9 rebounds per game (T-16th in RMAC).
The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.6 rebounds per contest to sit ninth in the RMAC. His 3.8 assists per game is eighth in the league, while the senior's 56.2 percent from the field ranks 11th. His 1.5 assist/turnover ratio is 11th, while the 13.0 points per game is 25th.
Will Newman's 4.1 assists per game (103 total) ranks fifth in the conference. His 1.9 assist/turnover ratio is sixth and the 1.3 steals per game (33 total) is eighth in the league, while the 84.1 percent from the charity stripe is also eighth.
Josh Smith owns 1.5 steals per game (36 total) to rank fifth 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 39.3 percent clip from long range to sit fourth in the league and 41st nationally. CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 8.7 3-pointers per contest, which is fifth in the RMAC.
Josh Smith has 63 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh in the RMAC, while Gavin Liggett's 2.4 3-pointers per game is eighth (55 daggers from downtown). Liggett has shot 55-of-116 (47.4%) from long range this season to rank third 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 15.7 assists per game.
CSU-Pueblo dished out 25 assists in the win against New Mexico Highlands
Feb. 7 and have totaled 20 or more helpers four times.
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 42nd 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 98-68 (.594) record in six seasons. He owns the third most wins in ThunderWolves men's basketball history.
The Dec. 30 win against BHSU 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