FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Colorado State fans packed into Moby
Arena thanks to a promise of free pizza and T-shirts.
They were treated to quite a show, too.
Wes Eikmeier scored 19 points and Colorado State made all 23 of
its free throws, beating San Diego State (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) 77-60 on Saturday for its first home win over a ranked team in more than eight years.
Will Bell added 17 points and the Rams (14-6, 3-2 Mountain West)
frustrated the fatigued Aztecs (18-3, 4-1) all afternoon, limiting
them to 3-of-21 shooting from 3-point range.
It was the first time Colorado State beat a Top 25 team at Moby
since knocking off Purdue 71-69 on Dec. 30, 2003. Fans were eager
to join the celebration as the student section rushed onto the
floor, some waving cardboard cutouts of Rams coach Tim Miles and
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
This was just what the Rams needed after dropping two straight
on the road, putting a serious crimp in their NCAA tournament
hopes. They needed a signature victory like this on their resume.
"It gives us hope," Eikmeier said. "But at the same time, we
are still humble because of our last two games. We know how bad we
can be. We know how good we can be."
The good version of the Rams certainly showed up Saturday. They
set a conference record by going 23 for 23 at the foul line.
"Feels good," Bell said. "But we have to build on it. We
can't build our whole season on this."
Jamaal Franklin had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Aztecs,
who had their 11-game winning streak snapped. Chase Tapley, the
conference's leading scorer, was held to 10 points. He was
"We got beat by a better basketball team today. I don't think
they're a better basketball team, but they were today," San Diego
State coach Steve Fisher said. "They beat us. We were not
productive with our offense."
Colorado State's swarming defense had something to do with that.
Playing man-to-man defense all game, the Rams were constantly
pestering San Diego State's outside shooters, hardly ever giving
them a clear look.
"I think we caught them on a bad shooting game, which helped,"
Miles said. "That's why we were able to extend. If they had been a
little hotter, it could have been an unbelievable game."
Colorado State led by as many as 18 points midway through the
second half, then weathered a late surge by San Diego State, which
hadn't lost since Nov. 30 against Creighton. The Aztecs turned up
the pressure and whittled the deficit to 12 with 4:11 remaining.
That's when the Rams became more deliberate on offense, draining time off the clock and waiting for the Aztecs to foul them.
Colorado State hit 12 free throws down the stretch to end a
nine-game skid against San Diego State.
"This is a start in the right direction," Miles said.
When ranked in The Associated Press poll, the Aztecs have been
very successful against unranked teams, entering this game with a
38-0 mark. But they just never found their shooting touch.
Part of that may have been due to their arduous traveling
adventures earlier in the week. Because of heavy snow, it took San
Diego State 20 hours to arrive in Laramie, Wyo., for a game Tuesday
night against the Cowboys.
After beating Wyoming 52-42, the Aztecs chartered a flight and
flew back home, not wanting to miss any more class time than
necessary. Then they returned to the Front Range to face Colorado
Not that the Aztecs were looking for a convenient excuse.
"I'm not going to place the blame on us traveling. We
understand how our conference is and the climates," forward Tim
Shelton said. "That's not the reason at all."
At intermission, the Rams introduced new football coach Jim
McElwain, who is beginning to settle into the role after helping
Alabama win a national championship as offensive coordinator.
McElwain led the football team onto the court to a rousing ovation.
Turned out, it was merely an appetizer, setting the stage for
the main course -- an upset as the fans spilled onto the floor in
their free T-shirts.
"This is a big win for our program," said Eikmeier, who made
eight free throws. "But at the same time, we've got to build off
of this. We have to keep playing like this."