Fast start, bad finish for CSU
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.