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3 takeaways: Colorado State survives a sluggish shooting performance in a 67-59 victory over Air Force

Justin Michael Avatar
January 5, 2022

DENVER — A win is a win. 

No. 20 Colorado State entered Tuesday night’s game against Air Force as 21 point favorites. After 24 days between live action, though, the first Mountain West matchup of the 2021-22 campaign ended up being much closer than the oddsmakers anticipated, especially with the Falcons missing four players from the rotation due to COVID-19. 

Joe Scott’s squad battled on the road for all 40 minutes at Moby Arena and even after losing the lead they established at one point in the first half, the Falcons actually tied the score at the 10:55 mark of the second half (48-48). They never ended up retaking the lead, but the pesky group from Colorado Springs hung around until the final buzzer and were within two scores for most of the final stretch. 

For the Green & Gold, the 67-59 win over the academy is the seventh in a row under Niko Medved. He’s never lost to Air Force since taking over the program. More importantly, it extends CSU’s winning streak this season to 11 games. As things currently stand, the Rams are just one of three undefeated teams in the country. 

Here are the takeaways from Tuesday night. 

The Rams looked like a team that didn’t play for close to a month 

Despite the ridiculous spread — which way too high for an interstate rivalry game coming off of a Covid pause — CSU found a way to steal a win when the Rams weren’t at their best.

There were more airballs than you could count on one hand and the frustration was visible on the faces of the players at various points of the night. It was extremely apparent that the Rams were rusty in this one. Fortunately, even with the wonky showing on offense, the Rams were stout enough defensively and owned the glass.

CSU won the rebound margin by 10 (33 vs. 23), but where they really dominated was on the offensive glass. Niko Medved’s group finished with 12 offensive boards, resulting in 14 second chance points. Conversely the Falcons had 3 second chance points from a pair of offensive rebounds. With how tight things were, the disparity ended up being huge, particularly with neither side hitting from deep very consistently. 

Leading the cause for CSU on the glass was David Roddy, who finished with a team-high 12 rebounds. He also recorded a double-double (13 Pts, 12 Reb), his fourth of the season and the 18th of his career. He only played 13 minutes, but James Moors also came up clutch with six crucial rebounds of his own. Chandler Jacobs had five boards off the bench as well. 

The shots didn’t fall but the execution wasn’t poor 

While it didn’t look pretty on Tuesday, it’s tough to be upset with a lot of the looks that the Rams were able to get. Many of the missed shots were open and in rhythm — not all of them and Air Force deserves credit for the way they contested things along the perimeter — but it’s not as if CSU was out there jacking up circus shots all night.

CSU played within the offense, limited turnovers and generally moved the basketball. It was just one of those nights where the Rams couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the net. Unlike the Saint Mary’s game in 2020-21, though, CSU found a way to come out on top this time. 

CSU’s depth was the difference 

Air Force was in a pretty brutal position missing half of their normal rotation, including the best player on the team, A.J. Walker, who averages 16.7 points per game. So, all things considered, the fight that they showed was admirable. It’s easy to see how this team was able to upset Utah State at home with the effort they give on defense. The Rams are just too deep for a shorthanded unit to overcome for a full 40 minutes. 

It wasn’t a particularly standout game from anyone on CSU offensively, but Medved got enough out of his veterans when the game was there for the taking. Kendle Moore, after at least three prior air balls, was able to make a clutch three. Chandler Jacobs showed off his ability to put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim on a couple of different impressive drives late. David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens made some big buckets too. Sometimes it takes a village and that was certainly the case in this one. 

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