FORT COLLINS — After falling short of two major invites from reaching the NCAA Tournament last season, the Colorado state men’s basketball team took on its 2021-22 non-conference schedule.
Rather than half-heartedly filling his ex-Mountain West slate with minor opponents, fourth-year coach Nico Medved filled the early stages of the campaign with opportunities to restart.
That way, if there’s a tussle with the selection committee this time around, there’s probably a better chance of the March Madness bubble winding to the right. Okay, this is assuming that CSU takes advantage of the said marquee matchup.
Time will tell if the Rams really like St. Mary’s, the state of Mississippi, and current No. 14 Alabama, among other challenging foes. However, for now, Green and Gold can happily claim that they got off on the right foot after beating Oral Roberts 109-80 on Tuesday evening at Moby Arena.
ORU traveled to Fort Collins for the campaign opening of each event at last year’s Sweet 16–besting No. 2 Ohio State in an attention-grabbing first-round upset before toppling No. 7 Florida as No. 15 . Seed.
Despite losing top rebounder/second-leading scorer Kevin Obnor among many starters, the Golden Eagles still enter the new season as projected runners-up in the Summit League – fueled by the much-anticipated return of sharp-shooting guard Max Abmas. is related.
A President First-Team All-American (by The Sporting News), Abmas led the nation in scoring (24.5 points per game), while shooting 42.9% from 3-point range on a coronavirus-shortened campaign. And on Tuesday, Junior managed to make his presence felt, scoring 20 points, despite an uncharacteristically poor effort from the floor.
Nevertheless, guided by a compelling performance from junior guard John Tonje, the Rams easily outclassed their Summit League opponents from the nearly sold-out crowd.
During the first half, in which CSU proved capable but struggled to get away, Tonje kept the hosts’ heads above water by accumulating a contest-high 18 points from 8 out of 5 shots. And it didn’t end anywhere.
After scoring a career-best performance in the opening 20 minutes, Tonje began the final piece in similar red-hot fashion, while helping CSU extend their lead in the comfortable zone.
Notably, highlighted by a nifty head-fake and score in the pent, the sharp-shooting junior shot down four consecutive shots in the first six minutes of the second half – half the Rams’ advantage from 50-43 to 70-52 Extended. 13 minute mark.
Overall, Tonje took 14 of 10 shots for 31 points, 13 of which occurred in a second half where CSU broke the game open.
Tonje felt his shot on Tuesday to a new degree, after averaging 6.6 points per game as a sophistication, to say the least.
Although Tonje undoubtedly stole the season-opening show, Medved’s team enjoyed an aggressive balance elsewhere, beating the Golden Eagles squad that averaged 82 points per night (10th in the NCAA) last year.
Overall, the Rams converted a 58.9% clip from the floor as forward discus Thomas added his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Additionally, Isaiah Stevens posted 13 points, while Division II transfer Chandler Jacobs enjoyed an effective CSU debut – scoring 6-of-6 field goals for 15 points.
After trailing Oral Roberts with a lights-out second half, CSU welcomes Arkansas-Pine Bluffs to Moby Arena for tip-off at 8 p.m. Friday.