Wyoming Cowboys vs. Colorado St. Rams Pick & Prediction JANUARY 27th 2024

Two Mountain West teams that are hoping to break out of the pack will square off Saturday afternoon as No. 24 Colorado State faces Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., in the first of their two annual Border War games.

A big takeaway after one-third of the conference season is that, yes, location matters. Both teams are 3-3 in the Mountain West, but neither has won a conference game on the road.

Colorado State (15-4 overall) started the season 13-1 but has lost three of five, most recently falling behind early and losing to Nevada 77-64 in Reno on Wednesday.

The defeat had Rams coach Niko Medved talking about familiar themes for his players: hitting timely shots and keeping their composure.

“You have nights where good shots don’t go in,” he said. “I’m more disappointed with some of the key turnovers in critical situations, or maybe a forced shot when we just needed to trust it a little bit more. When you get frustrated, you gotta stay mentally tough, gotta stay mentally strong and focus on the next play.”

Guard Isaiah Stevens, who leads the Rams in scoring at 16.7 points per game, will be looking to bounce back. The program’s all-time leading scorer in his fifth season, Stevens managed only eight points on 4-of-16 shooting against Nevada. It was just the second time all season that he failed to reach double figures.

Among his many glowing statistics, Stevens also ranks third in the nation with 140 assists (7.4 per game).

“That’s how I was coached to be as a point guard,” said Stevens, who finished with 10 assists despite his scoring difficulties on Wednesday.

Nique Clifford is averaging 13.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for Colorado State. He is hitting 50.9 percent (27 of 53) from long range.

Wyoming (10-9) is also coming off a loss, 81-65 at San Diego State on Tuesday, an outcome that left Cowboys coach Jeff Linder praising his team’s effort. The Cowboys were within single digits of the Aztecs until midway through the second half.

“There’s no moral victories, but I thought our effort and performance in one of the tougher places in the country to play against a very experienced team — I thought our guys battled hard and just wore down a little bit,” Linder said.

Sam Griffin leads Wyoming with 18.2 points per game, third best in the Mountain West. Griffin, who is in his first year with the Cowboys after two apiece at UT Arlington and Tulsa, comes in on a two-game hot streak: 48 points on 16-of-29 shooting, including 9-of-17 success from 3-point range.

“I think Sam, Akuel (Kot) and our whole team, after the last couple games have played some of the better teams in our league,” Linder said. “They feel like, ‘Hey, we can play with anybody.’ I think that’s the biggest thing with me (about) our team — especially such a new team — is just that belief factor.”

Kot averages 15.1 points for the Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

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