FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Wes Eikmeier scored 23 points and Jesse Carr added 21 to lead the CSU Rams to an 83-70 exhibition win over a gritty Southwest Minnesota State team at Moby Arena Saturday afternoon.
CSU clung to a 42-41 lead going into halftime, and SMSU entered the break shooting an impressive 55.6 percent from the field. Head Coach Tim Miles was less than encouraged with the defense in the first half, but was more thrilled with CSU's performance in the second half, holding SMSU to just 8-of-29 (27.6 percent) from the floor.
"I thought we were overextended early in the first half with our screenable defense," Miles said. "We backed off in the second half and that was much better for us."
The Rams shot better in the second half than the first, knocking down 13-of-21 shot attempts. Eikmeier scored 15 of his 23 points in the second frame, connecting on 6-of-7 shots.
Eikmeier agreed that the second half changes were crucial for the victory.
"The first half wasn't good enough," the junior guard said. "We had something to prove to ourselves. That extra spark of energy was a huge boost for us."
Pierce Hornung recorded a double-double, scoring 10 points and snagging 11 rebounds before fouling out with 3:28 left in the game.
"We have to keep him in the game," Miles said of Hornung. "He fouled out with only three minutes left and on a different night that could have been catastrophic for the team."
Greg Smith finished with 16 points. Dorian Green added nine points and four assists. SMSU guard Jordan Miller led all scorers with 25 points.
CSU made just 3-of-15 threes on the afternoon, but was 25-of-41 (61 percent) on all other field goals. The Rams also made 24-of-28 free throws, and outrebounded SMSU 42-22.
This meeting marked the first between the two schools, but both programs are very familiar with one another. Miles was the SMSU head coach from 1997-2001, leading the Mustangs to a 78-39 record during that span.
CSU opens up regular-season play on Friday with a home tilt against the Montana Grizzlies. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. MT. The Rams have won each of the last two matchups between the teams, including an 88-55 win in 2008 and a 62-61 win in 2009. Fans can catch the action by tuning their radio dials to 560 AM or 600 AM.