Colorado St.-New Mexico Preview

Publish date:

Colorado State is off to its best start in school history but has also barely won each of its three road games this season.

The No. 24 Rams will face perhaps one of the toughest challenges to their perfect record in their next road game, an always-daunting trip to New Mexico on Saturday night.

Colorado State improved to 14-0 by rallying from a 10-point deficit in the second half for a 71-65 win Wednesday over visiting Boise State in its Mountain West opener. Sophomore guard John Gillon, averaging 9.6 points, had a career-high 25 and provided a key three-point play in the final minute with his team leading by just one.

"If it wasn't for a miraculous performance by John Gillon, we're sitting here losing," coach Larry Eustachy said. "I know the opponent was terrific, but we can do a lot better. So we move forward."

Eustachy's team has also struggled in each of its three road victories and needed a layup with 31 seconds left in overtime to beat New Mexico State 58-57 in its most recent one last Saturday. The Rams, one of six unbeaten teams remaining in Division I, have claimed those three wins by a combined four points.

They would probably be thrilled with any margin of victory at New Mexico, where they've lost seven in a row and are 1-14 since the Mountain West began before the 1999-2000 season. Colorado State has dropped four straight overall in the series and lost last season's two meetings by a total of nine points.

Eustachy is also 0-5 all-time against the Lobos. His first loss came in 2008 with Southern Mississippi, and Eustachy is making his fourth visit to New Mexico.

"Larry Eustachy does a good job. They are going to play hard," New Mexico coach Craig Neal said. "Larry is a great competitor and we have had some great battles."

The Lobos (9-4, 1-0), who are 23-1 in their last 24 conference home games, won six of seven games in December and bounced back from a 68-65 loss at unheralded Grand Canyon on Dec. 23 by beating Fresno State 76-64 in their conference opener Wednesday. Hugh Greenwood scored 16 points as New Mexico shot season highs of 80.0 percent from 3-point range - its best from beyond the arc since hitting 81.8 percent in a win over Texas Tech on Dec. 15, 2007 - and 59.0 percent overall.

Deshawn Delaney is New Mexico's current top scorer at 14.5 points per game with the coach's son, Cullen Neal, out. Neal, who averaged 17.0 points in three games from Nov. 14-20, could miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

Delaney had 12 points in Wednesday's victory and is averaging 16.2 on 51.7 percent shooting in a 10-game streak of double-digit scoring performances.

Colorado State's J.J. Avila, averaging a team-best 14.4 points, has reached double figures in 20 consecutive contests dating back to last season. He scored 14 points in an 80-73 loss at New Mexico on Jan. 4, and Daniel Bejarano had a then-career high of 25.

Bejarano, averaging 11.1 points this season, also scored 21 in a 68-66 home loss to the Lobos on Jan. 25, but missed a shot at the buzzer. He had 11 points Wednesday after being held scoreless at New Mexico State.