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The to-do list for Isaiah Stevens at Colorado State is growing shorter and shorter with each game.
We haven’t even gotten to December yet and the star point guard has already played his way into the history books as the all-time assist leader for both CSU and the Mountain West. He’s guided the Rams to its earliest ranking in the AP Poll in program history, after also starring in the school’s biggest ranked win since 1984.
On Wednesday night, Stevens got to check another feat off of the list: beating Colorado.
Led by their floor general, No. 20 CSU led its in-state rival for just under 38 minutes and ultimately pulled off a 88-83 victory over the Buffs in front of a sold out Moby Arena. In celebration of the first win over CU since 2017, the students stormed the court in triumph on a night that Ram Nation won’t soon forget.
Following the game, Stevens, after playing a team-high 36 minutes, sat up at the podium and talked about not wanting to leave Fort Collins without at least one win over the Buffs.
“That was probably one of the last few things I had on my check list,” Stevens said. “Didn’t want to get out of here without one. That’s a great program over there. A lot of respect to Tad Boyle. He’s had great teams ever since I’ve been in college and to be able to get one in my last year, I think it’s pretty special.”
Stevens finished the win with his third double-double of the year (20 points and 11 assists). While it was not his biggest scoring outburst by any means — we’ve seen “Zay” go off for far more points than that — it was, however, another night of nearly perfect point guard play from the savvy veteran.
From the opening tip, Stevens was in complete control as he ran the floor like a maestro conducting his symphony. If the Buffs allowed him enough space to put the ball on the floor and attack the hoop himself, then that’s exactly what he’d do. But if there was a teammate along the way that had a chance at a better look, Stevens whipped them the rock while the CU defenders did their best to keep up with CSU’s unselfish ball movement.
When it was all said and done, five different teammates all scored at least one of their field goals off of an assist from Stevens, which shows you how much everyone on the floor benefitted from No. 4 being out there spreading the love.
As you would expect from the preseason conference player of the year, though, when the situation called for Stevens to knock down a big shot, he was always able to deliver.
Stevens drained a crucial 3-pointer with Tristan Da Silva in his face with 4:18 remaining. He made a pull-up jumper to respond to a big bucket from Cody Williams with 2:45 to go. He also consistently did a nice job of getting to the free throw line throughout the second half, where he went 7-of-8, including a crucial 4-point possession thanks to a technical foul on Tad Boyle.
“He just plays in complete control,” Niko Medved said of his fifth-year point guard.
Medved continued his praise of Stevens, telling reporters that Isaiah is a guy that is never scared of the moment. It does not matter if he’s missed a few shots or had an uncharacteristic turnover, when the next chance comes to him, he never hesitates. That’s the type of confidence he has in himself.
“He just plays with so much poise. In the huddles and on the court. I said it after the Creighton game and I’ll say it again. If there is a guard in the country that’s playing better than him right now, I want to see it.”
As things currently stand, Stevens is averaging 18 points and eight assists per game through CSU’s first seven wins. He’s shooting a career-high 57 percent from the floor and 50 percent from deep. And his assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly 4:1.
If he continues to play like this for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign, not only will CSU be dancing come March, but Stevens will also be in the All-American conversation. The Rams will be in the mix to win their first MW regular season championship too.
Next up for CSU is another tough test against high-major competition with the Rams taking on the Washington Huskies on Saturday. It’s obviously a completely different opponent but three of Stevens’ four highest scoring performances have come against UNLV throughout his career. Maybe that same energy will vibe right for him as the Rams look to remain undefeated out in Sin City.