Colorado St. Rams vs. St. Mary’s Gaels Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023

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The Colorado State men’s basketball team isn’t flying under the radar any longer.

The No. 13 Rams are getting the full attention of opposing teams after winning their first nine games and earning their highest ranking in program history.

Don’t expect that to change when Colorado State hosts Saint Mary’s in a nonconference game on Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins, Colo.

“We’re going to get everyone’s ultimate focus and intensity,” Colorado State coach Niko Medved said. “That’s what happens when you’re playing the way we are.”

Before this week, the highest the Rams had ever climbed in the rankings was No. 18 during the 1953-54 season.

A win over then-No. 8 Creighton on Nov. 23 lifted Colorado State into the rankings at No. 20, and the Rams climbed another seven spots with wins last week against Colorado and Washington.

Most recently, the Rams knocked off visiting Denver on Wednesday night, rallying from a four-point halftime deficit before winning 90-80.

Colorado State was favored by more than twice that margin.

“I really thought we looked like an emotionally and physically tired team,” Medved said. “We’ve got some guys running on fumes.”

Isaiah Stevens, the team’s leading scorer (17.2 points per game) who ranks second in the nation in assists (8.0 per contest), has been noticeably hobbled by a hip pointer, Medved said. Backup guard Rashaan Mbemba has an undisclosed ailment that limited him to 12 minutes on Wednesday.

Jalen Lake, the team’s sixth leading scorer (7.7), broke a finger during practice last week and missed the Washington and Denver games.

“No hanging our heads here,” Medved said. “We’ve just got to regroup and find a way to get the job done on Saturday.”

Medved said after the win on Wednesday that he was impressed with reserve guard Taviontae Jackson, who contributed six points, four rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes, his first extended run of the season after recovering from a hip injury.

“I thought he played really good defense,” Medved said. “I thought he sparked us with his energy, and that’s just awesome to see.”

The coach also was impressed by backup freshman guard Kyan Evans, who scored seven points off the bench in 21 minutes against the Pioneers.

“He’s just a confident player,” Medved said. “He believes that he belongs. He’s got a tremendous amount of swagger about him. He’s just not afraid of the moment, and so he’s going to be a good one. He’s getting kind of thrown into the fire early and he’s making plays.”

Saint Mary’s defeated visiting Cleveland State 70-67 on Tuesday evening.

Mitchell Saxen made all seven of his first-half field-goal attempts and scored 17 of his 20 points before the break as the Gaels built a 20-point lead.

Aidan Mahaney added 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Alex Ducas chipped in 10 points for Saint Mary’s (4-5), which was coming off losses last week to Utah and Boise State.

After the game at Colorado State, Saint Mary’s faces UNLV, Middle Tennessee, Northern Kentucky and Missouri State before the Christmas break.

“We’ve got tough ones coming,” Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. “We just have to keep improving. If we do, we should win most of those games.”

–Field Level Media

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