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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup: Red Hot Rams (Colorado State) Visit Pauley

Our basketball team gets back into action tonight by taking on the red hot Colorado State Rams. Under Coach Tim the Rams are off to an 8-3 start to open the 2009-10 season, which is their best start through 11 games since the 2006-07 season (9-2).  They are already just one win shy of their entire win total from the 2008-09 season. They are also streaking into Pauley with a 4 game winning streak, coming off a 64-56 victory Sunday night against Northern Arizona (previous stomping ground for Coach Howland). In other words, it doesn't sound like Bruins are going to have an opportunity to breathe easy before heading for a short two day Christmas break.

Bruins and Rams also have a bit of history between them (not during Howland era though). This is the 7th meeting between the two programs as the series (surprisingly is) tied at 3-3.The last meeting was a classic debacle from the nightmarish CHP era when the 18th ranked Bruins choked in the semifinals of the Pearl Harbor Invitational in Laie, Hawaii by a score of 55-54 in a disgustingly ugly basketball game. The Bruins are 3-1 all-time against the Rams in Los Angeles and 2-0 in Pauley Pavilion. Rams only win in LA was a 69-68 decision, coming in during the 1961-62 season against Coach Wooden. That years our Bruins reached the Final 4 that season, losing to eventual champion Cincinnati in the national semifinals. Of course that is not going to happen this year (reaching the Final-4 I meant).

Coach Howland I am sure has the Rams well scouted but he wasn't giving away much during his weekly press conference (even if he did the local writers are too obsessed with covering the latest updates on Dragovic's ongoing legal problems). Anyway, here is what Howland had to say about the Rams that was published in the LAT:

The Rams (8-3) have a deep bench and will probably show a mix of zone and man-to-man defenses, Howland said.

Freshman guard Dorian Green, averaging 15.2 points, leads the team.

"He's a really good shooter," Howland said.

We have a little more on the Rams after the jump.

Dorian Green is not the only Ram standing out during their win streak:

During Colorado State’s four-game winning streak no players have stood out more for the Rams than freshman G Dorian Green, junior F Travis Franklin, and junior G Adam Nigon.  Green had led the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game, while averaging 3.8 rebounds per contest.  Franklin ranks right behind Green, pouring in 15.5 points per game.  He leads the team in rebounding at 5.8 per contest.  The duo has combined to hit 48 of 66 attempts from the free-throw line during that stretch.  Nigon, who entered this season with a career scoring average of 2.9 ppg., is also in double-figures scoring at a clip of 10.3 points per game during the Rams’ winning streak.  He is leading the Rams in three-point shooting, hitting 8-of-17 attempts for a .471 percentage.  Green is the only other player to hit a trey for the Rams during that stretch, hitting 40 percent (8-for-20) from beyond the arc.  Nigon also leads the Rams in assists during CSU’s streak, dishing out 12 helpers, more than double any other player on the team.

I haven't seen the Rams at all this season. However, going through their notes and stats it sounds like Franklin and Nigon have made big strides as juniors this season:

Nigon heating up
Junior Adam Nigon entered the season averaging 2.87 points per contest through two seasons. This year, the guard is averaging 8.2 points, and has already eclipsed his point total from all of last season. Nigon is shooting at a 41 percent clip from both the floor and three-point range. During a five-game stretch from Nov. 29 to Dec. 12, Nigon averaged 11.6 points, including a career-high 17 against Montana, helping the Rams to a 4-1 record during that stretch. 

Seeing double
Junior F Travis Franklin recorded his second career double-double performance in the Rams’ victory over rival Colorado (Dec. 10).  Franklin tallied 22 points, his second 20-point effort of the season, and capped off the double-double performance with 10 rebounds to help CSU to the 77-62 victory.  Franklin shot 7-for-9 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, while adding a block and two steals against the Buffs.  Franklin also recorded a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) nine days earlier in the Rams’ 70-63 loss at Northern Colorado (Dec.1). 

Despite their impressive record, the Rams might have some chinks in their armor. They are not a very good shooting team (at least early this season) and have a tendency to turn the ball over. They are trying to use the Holiday break from school to work on getting into some kind of offensive rhythm:

he Rams (7-3) are playing better defense in Miles' third season with the team than they did the first two, limiting opponents to 38.9 percent shooting and pulling down an average of 6.6 rebounds a game more than their foes.But the spread offense he introduced last season needs work. Colorado State University is shooting just 42.4 percent from the floor and scoring only 69.9 points while committing an average of 15.9 turnovers a game. Opponents are averaging 4.4 assists a game more than the Rams.

That was before their game against Northern Arizona. Their offensive performance remained spotty as they were shot only 39.5% from the field (2 for 11 from the three point line) while turning the ball over 18 times (Lumberjacks turned it over 20 times themselves).

So perhaps this is a game in which we will hopefully can see the Bruin defense spring into action from the opening tipoff and our guys sustain it for the entire 40 minutes. Obviously we are going to be looking for the same things we have been looking in previous games which are at least an above average serviceable outing from Anderson, Dragovic, while seeing extended minutes from Honeycutt, Nelson and Lane. It will be interesting to see how much PT Roll gets since he is apparently recovering from a flu.

The  game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 pm PST. It will not be on television. It will be available online. We will throw up a game thread, which hopefully will help folks to follow the action as best as they can.