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Nique Clifford delivers CSU Rams to victory, CU transfer produces big on bday

Justin Michael Avatar
February 10, 2024

Nique Clifford’s birthday wish came true as Colorado State extended its winning streak to four with a 66-47 victory over San Jose State Friday night. 

On his 22nd birthday the athletic guard posted his sixth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He really did a little bit of everything in this one, though. The Colorado transfer was second on the squad with five assists, tied for the team lead with a pair of steals and he paced CSU with two blocks. That’s in addition to making five of CSU’s 12 free throws in the win. 

Along with a big night from Clifford, Rashaan Mbemba followed up a nice outing against Fresno State with 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor. The true freshman out of Austria led the Rams in scoring despite only playing 15 minutes and really played a major role in establishing a 19-point halftime lead. He very well may be the extra weapon that allows the Rams to reach an extra gear down the stretch. 

Rounding out the leading scorers, Joel Scott had 12 points and six rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting. The former Division II star has now scored in double-digit figures in eight straight games. He’s averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game over the last four. And his impact on both ends of the floor has certainly played a part in CSU’s recent success.

Here are the other takeaways from Friday night. 

Difference in depth 

Mbemba was the star of the rotation but the bench was effective as a whole. While SJSU only got 1 point from a player outside of the starting five, CSU’s finished with 23 for the second game in a row. 

The Rams are an overwhelming defensive assignment for multiple reasons. One of the biggest, though, is that CSU legitimately has nine guys that could realistically score in double figures on any given night. 

When this many individuals are contributing, it makes the odds of sustaining success go up tremendously. The Rams will need these guys to continue to play well as the they move into a really challenging stretch of the schedule.

Rams remained in control 

The Rams led by 19 at halftime and by as much as 20 in the game. The Spartans did manage to pull within 10 with just over 13 minutes to go, however, they never got within single digits in the second half. 

Credit SJSU for throwing out a 1-3-1 zone that gave the Rams some troubles late. But also credit CSU for never letting things get away from them. Their composure in the winning streak has been impressive. 

The Rams have led for 148 minutes and 29 seconds out of a possible 160 minutes over the last two weeks. They’ve trailed for all of 4:16 and the most they have gone down by is 2 points.

Sharing is caring 

CSU had 24 assists on 25 made field goals Friday night. 

Isaiah Stevens was the main facilitator with 11 assists. A mark he actually hit with quite a bit of time remaining. He showed that he’s a closer with a couple of late threes, too. 

The Rams are now 10-0 this season when dishing out 20 or more assists. 

Rams restore dominance in all-time series 

The order has been restored between these two schools.

After being swept by the Spartans last season — something we’d never seen before — the 19-point home win moves CSU to 24-2 all-time against SJSU. It also extends the current winning streak to four games as the Rams go into one of the biggest weeks of the season.

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