Fast start, bad fin­ish for CSU

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Sean Star

Colorado State’s for­mula for suc­cess has been pretty sim­ple. Outscore the op­po­si­tion in the paint, and the Rams win.

When they don’t, they lose.

For the third time this sea­son the CSU men’s team came up short in that area, and for the third time this sea­son the Rams lost as Kansas State had a 36-18 scor­ing ad­van­tage in­side to spark an 89-70 vic­tory Satur­day at the Pepsi Cen­ter.

Se­nior for­ward D.J. John­son was the cat­a­lyst for the Wild­cats’ dom­i­nance down low, scor­ing 19 points and mak­ing 8-of-11 shots to go with 10 re­bounds in just 23 min­utes of play­ing time.

“I just feel like we came not pre­par­ing to guard their play­ers ... let­ting guys get easy layups. Just be­ing soft, like let­ting them block our shots,” said CSU se­nior for­ward Em­manuel Omogbo. “We’ve just got to do bet­ter than that. We are bet­ter than that.”

Pren­tiss Nixon scored a ca­reer-high 30 points and made 9-of-16 shots, Gian Clavell added 16 points and Omogbo had 13 for the Rams (8-3). But coach Larry Eus­tachy’s team got lit­tle else while get­ting beat 25-11 in bench points and 21-7 in points off turnovers.

CSU had a great start and was play­ing some of its best of­fense all sea­son, mak­ing 13 of its first 24 shots from the field on the way to an eight-point lead with less than eight min­utes left in the first half. But from that point on, the Wild­cats (10-1) took con­trol, end­ing the first half on a 23-8 run for a 44-37 half­time lead.

The Rams were a ter­rific sec­ond-half team all sea­son un­til Satur­day. The Wild­cats of the Big 12 Con­fer­ence be­gan the sec­ond half on 14-4 run to blow it open, es­tab­lish­ing a dou­ble-digit lead the rest of the way.

“The big­gest thing is we lost fo­cus. We lost fo­cus on the de­fen­sive end,” Nixon said.

The Rams strug­gled to get any­thing go­ing in the sec­ond half, shoot­ing just 37.5 per­cent while al­low­ing the Wild­cats to turn 11 of­fen­sive re­bounds into 15 sec­ond-chance points.

John­son was one of six Wild­cats in dou­ble fig­ures as all five starters scored at least 10 points, in­clud­ing guard Barry Brown with 14. Mean­while, the Rams had just six play­ers score.

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