Ft. Collins, CO – Although Colorado State had the lead over San Diego State for only two minutes in the game, Emmanuel Omogbo’s 3-pointer with four seconds to play gave the Rams a 56-55 win. The loss drops the Aztecs to 16-12 on the season and 9-7 in MW conference play while CSU improves to 20-9 and leading-tying 12-4 mark.
The Rams swept the season series over San Diego State who were selected to repeat as regular-season champions. The Aztecs returned three starters from last year’s team. Colorado State has now won nine of their last ten games although utilizing only seven players.
San Diego State’s leading player is junior 6-4 guard Trey Kell, the team leader in assists (78), free throw percent (.765) and minutes (31.8 mpg) while ranking second in scoring (13.9 ppg). 6-5 senior guard Dakarai Allen scores at 8.7 ppg, on 53 percent from the field and leads the defensively with 36 steals on the season. But it is 6-10 junior forward Malik Pope that catches attention shooting with range on 34 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and scoring 10.1 points to go with 5.7 rebounds per game.
6-4 senior guard Gian Clavell is Colorado State’s leading scorer (18.9 ppg) and rebounds at 6.3 rpg, while 6-8 senior forward Omogbo averages a double-double at 14.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
CSU trailed by as many as 13 with Omogbo in early foul trouble and Clavell going 0-of-7 from the three-point arc, but chipped away with transition buckets and unforced Aztec turnovers leading to fast break basketball. Just as in their previous meeting, when senior forward Omogbo hit a key 3-pointer to tie the game, this time he hit the game-winner.
The Rams only hit 32 percent of FG shots, but were a +8 in rebounding margin and shot twice as many free throws as the Aztecs, both important stats for winning. San Diego State finished at 36 percent on its field goal attempts and were led by Allen’s 12 points and eight rebounds. San Diego State is now 2-9 this season in games decided by eight points or less. Prior to this season, the Aztecs were 50-22 in games decided by six points or less or in overtime. One of those losses was a 78-77 decision to Colorado State on Jan. 28.
San Diego State’s Allen was impressive on defense and was a major factor in CSU’s poor shooting night. He leads the team in steals and fills the stat line each game with the senior leadership in the knowing the value of team roles. Allen is vocal and anticipates very well. His shot selection is excellent and he is fundamentally solid (block-outs, crisp passing, etc.). We expect at the next level Allen will look to increase his shooting range and getting to the rim in order to create more offense. All the physical tools and great attitude are there.
Clavell led Colorado State and all scorers with 18 despite being 2-for-15 from the 3-point line. He plays hard and refuses to be denied. He is a good defender and had some key steals in the Ram final run. Clavell gets excellent height on his jump shot and is smooth shooting off the dribble or pass. Although his shot was off for this game, it was evident that the Rams need him to score for team success. Physically he is very solid and deceptively quick. He is capable of high energy for extended minutes. An overlooked aspect of Clavell’s game is his defense. He picks up the other team’s best perimeter player and doesn’t give up an easy basket.
Earlier in the season, CSU’s Omogbo displayed the typical power forward skills of tough defense and high energy rebounding while offensively working to help the guards score by setting screens and kicking the ball out from the low post. But perhaps the Ram’s emergence can be tied to Omogbo’s ability to score. He possesses a nice “turn and face” game with the ability to hit the mid-range jumper or put the ball down and drive past a defender. He no longer relies on offensive rebounds for points but now puts pressure on the defense to be aware of him. Omogbo moves well without the ball and “competes” at both ends of the court, which is not a skill seen every day.
This article was written by Rich Ward, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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