© 2024 ALLCITY Network Inc.
All rights reserved.
No. 17 Colorado State is playing from behind in the Mountain West title race after dropping its second consecutive league game.
Coming off of a tough loss at Utah State, the Rams (13-3, 1-2) fell 65-58 to Boise State (11-4, 2-0) on the road Tuesday.
On a night where the Rams had an opportunity to establish themselves as one of the frontrunners in a deep conference, they ultimately fell short in the hostile setting; and for the second time in a week, CSU had to leave the court solemnly as the home fans stormed the floor in celebration of our disappointment.
While the outcome is certainly a bummer for Ram Nation and very well may drop CSU out of the top 25, it really isn’t that surprising given how challenging it is to win on the road in this league. It’s tough even when the Mountain West is having a down year, let alone when it’s projected to send four to five teams to the NCAA Tournament.
Even so, acknowledging the gauntlet that is the MW in 2023-24, it’s fair to say that this feels like a missed opportunity for CSU. The Rams set the bar really high with a phenomenal non-conference showing and the expectations have been elevated as a result. It’s championship or bust for this group and the path to the trophy just became a whole lot more difficult.
The Rams still have trips to Viejas Arena and the Pit. They have to go to Nevada and play Wyoming twice. After losing the first two road games of 2024, if CSU is realistically going to win the league it’s going to take a nearly perfect effort from here on out. There’s no wiggle room at this point.
Here’s some more takeaways from Tuesday night.
3-point shooting trending the wrong direction
The Rams continue to knock down tough mid-range looks but the outside shooting has been a concern lately.
CSU is shooting just 30.5 percent from beyond the arc to begin MW action and after going 4-of-16 from 3-point range in the loss to Boise State, the Rams have now shot below 40 percent as a team in seven of their last 10 matchups.
Considering the looks have largely been open and it doesn’t seem to be a shot selection issue, it’s very possible that the numbers will even out over the next month as the Rams get into the groove of the schedule. It may just be that CSU is a bit out of rhythm after dealing with some injuries, the holiday break, etc. Who amongst us isn’t a little bit sluggish to begin the year?
All jokes aside, it’s something to keep an eye on. Hitting 3’s is a big part of what opens things up for CSU. It’s not an element of the offense that the Rams can afford to live without.
The Rams really need Jalen Lake, Josiah Strong and Joe Palmer to find the shooting stroke they had before Christmas.
Too many turnovers
On one hand the defensive effort from Boise State deserves a lot of praise. But for the second time in three games, the Rams racked up 15 turnovers, and that’s just too many for a veteran team with conference title aspirations.
You’re never going to be perfect, particularly in a true road environment. It’s been odd to see the Rams look so out of sorts at times on the offensive end though. All of a sudden they’re turning the ball over, leaving jumpers short, blowing layups. Things we didn’t see from this team very much over the first 13 games.
The offense as a whole needs to be cleaner.
It’s a marathon
The tone of this piece has largely been critical because we all know what this team is capable of and the performance was not good enough on a big stage Tuesday night.
While the Rams need to be better — and they will be — it should also be stated that this group is 13-3 and one of just three CSU teams this century to win multiple high major games in the same year.
The sky is not falling because of a couple of losses to quality league opponents on the road. The Rams are still capable of achieving everything that the fanbase hoped for one week ago.
It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Take a deep breath and grab a cup of water because there is a lot of basketball still to be played.