December 25, 2014

Off to best start in school history, Colorado State continues to excel from 3-point range.

The 24th-ranked Rams narrowly survived their first two road contests but figure to have an easier time in Saturday night's visit to New Mexico given the Aggies' defensive struggles.

Colorado State (12-0) has used an efficient offense to earn its longest winning streak in a single season. The Rams have been one of the nation's most accurate 3-point shooting teams, knocking down 39.8 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Three starters shoot 41.4 percent or better from deep.

The team was 13 for 29 from long distance in Monday's 75-54 win over Charleston Southern.

"I know we can shoot and when you can shoot, you can beat about anybody on a given night," coach Larry Eustachy said. "If we defend and rebound, and we get it going on certain nights, we can beat some pretty good teams. We're more than capable. How good can we be? I think we just have to stay healthy and we'll be real good."

Colorado State has been one of the most unselfish teams in the country, recording assists on 67.4 percent of its made baskets. Forward J.J. Avila averages 14.1 points per game to lead four players averaging at least 10.3

"It speaks to the team as an unselfish team that will make that extra pass," Eustachy told the team's official website. "It doesn't take a genius to see that we're extremely unselfish and we would rather pass than shoot. They just need to keep listening and they will. We'll keep getting better."

The Rams have showed some grit elsewhere of late, holding three of their last four opponents to 40.4 percent shooting or worse. They've also averaged a plus-12.0 rebounding margin in their last three games.

"We are trying to out-determine teams every single game," said Daniel Bejarano, who is 9 of 16 from 3-point range over his last two contests. "Just having that winning mentality, that goes a long way."

Colorado State has looked just as comfortable offensively on the road, shooting 53.5 percent from the field. It had defensive issues, however, letting Colorado and Denver shoot a combined 49.5 percent in 62-60 and 85-84 victories. Nonetheless, the Rams have already matched their road win total from a season ago.

Defense has been a problem at times for the Aggies (5-8), who have let six opponents shoot 49.2 percent or better. They snapped a three-game slide with Monday's 78-39 win over NAIA Northern New Mexico.

Coach Marvin Menzies was encouraged by his team's performance despite the fact that it came against lesser competition.

"Any time you hold a college basketball team to under 40 points that's something to hang your hat on," he told the team's official website.

New Mexico State has won 41 of its last 44 at home and is 5-1 this season with an average plus-21.7 scoring margin, only losing 69-67 to New Mexico last Saturday.

The Aggies fell 71-54 at No. 11 Wichita State in their season opener, extending their losing streak to 16 against ranked opponents. They haven't knocked off a Top 25 team since an 80-73 victory over then-No. 15 Nevada on Jan. 20, 2007.

Avila had 29 points in Colorado State's 85-83 home win over New Mexico State last season while Daniel Mullings led the Aggies with 24 points.

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