PUEBLO, Colo. (February 6, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (15-7, 13-4 RMAC) caps a three-game homestand Feb. 7, as they entertain New Mexico Highlands University (9-13, 7-10 RMAC) in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference battle Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
With a 13-4 RMAC record, the ThunderWolves are tied for third in the RMAC standings with Westminster College, the Pack's next opponent.
The game is annual CSU-Pueblo Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night. All employees and their immediate families (up to five people) will be admitted for free. At halftime of the men's game, the CSU-Pueblo Athletics Department will honor all the student-athletes who received a 3.0 in the Fall semester.
LAST TIME OUT
The ThunderWolves went 1-1 in an RMAC home weekend with an 83-59 win against Adams State and an 84-75 versus No. 14 Fort Lewis.
The Pack shot 52.6 percent from the field, while holding the Grizzlies to 36.7 percent shooting. CSU-Pueblo totaled 15 assists, 10 steals and seven blocks in the win.
Senior Rico Spikes guided the ThunderWolves to a comfortable 41-27 lead at the half with all of his 14 points in the first 20 minutes. He went 5-for-6 (83.3%) from the field in the game and hit of 4-of-5 (80%) from the line. He added four rebounds and three assists.
Junior Mark Williams ensured the victory with 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half. He finished 5-of-8 (62.5%) from the field and added a 7-for-9 (77.8%) performance from the charity stripe. The junior also brought down a game-high eight rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass.
Fort Lewis entered the weekend ranking third nationally (52.7%) in field goal percentage and didn't shy away from their hot hand, as they hit on 61.2 percent from the field. The ThunderWolves were 13th nationally (50.7%) in the category, but shot 46.2 percent.
Five players scored in the double figures, guided by 16 from senior center Nelson Kahler. He shot 7-for-9 (77.8%) from the field and added four rebounds with three blocks. Both Spikes and junior Will Newman totaled 12 points and three assists. Williams (Chino Hills, Calif.) totaled 11 points and seven rebounds. Junior Josh Smith added 10 points and three rebounds with three steals.
The Pack jumped out to a 15-6 lead, but the road team came back and the teams were tied 17-17 with 10 minutes remaining in the half. The teams traded buckets to two minutes left and were knotted at 36-36. The ThunderWolves trailed 40-38 at the break.
The Skyhawks went on an 11-3 run to start the second half to lead 51-42 just four minutes in. CSU-Pueblo battled back to within one at 53-52 just a few minutes later.
The narrow margin didn't last long, as FLC led by 11, 67-56 with 8:28 left. The Skyhawks pushed the advantage to 15 and the Pack couldn't get the deficit within five in the nine point loss.
The Cowboys are 9-13 overall with a 7-10 record in RMAC play to sit tied for ninth in the league standings. NMHU is 2-1 in its last three, but 3-5 in the last eight games. New Mexico Highlands has averaged 75.8 points per game to rank 10th in the RMAC, while its scoring margin of -5.4 is 14th. The Cowboys are third in the RMAC with 7.2 steals per game, but own a -0.32 turnover margin that is 10th. Ron Lawton leads the team with 16.8 points per game. Marlon Johnson adds 14.3 points per game, leads the league in rebounds (10.1 rpg) and guides the team in assists (2.5 apg) and blocks (1.7 bpg).
LAST TIME VERSUS THE COWBOYS
The Pack traveled to Las Vegas Dec. 6 and defeated the Cowboys 87-67. The Pack shot 50 percent from the floor and knocked down eight 3-pointers to NMHU's one. Seven players scored in double-figures, as Mark Williams guided the Pack with 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Pack are shooting 50.5 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 10th nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and 14 of the 22 contests. The ThunderWolves are 10-4 when shooting above the 50 percent mark.
The Pack have five players shooting above 50 percent, guided by Rico Spikes' 57.1 percentage, which is sixth in the RMAC.
Nelson Kahler finished first in the RMAC and 22nd nationally with 64 blocks last season. His 2.21 blocks per game was 21st. He owns 69 blocks this season to again lead the league and rank fifth nationally. The 3.1 swats per game is sixth in NCAA Division II. Second place in the RMAC owns 37 blocks, 32 less than Kahler.
The program record for blocks in a season is 80 by Mark Jung (1982-83). Kahler is currently second on the school's season list
Kahler has swatted 133 shot attempts in his two seasons with the Pack to rank second on the all-time list. The career record is held by Bennie Johnson, who totaled 167 blocks from 1980-84.
After recording nine blocks against UCCS Jan. 14 to tie the school record, the senior established a new program record with 10 at Colorado Christian (Jan. 17). The mark is the most by an RMAC player since the 2012-13 season and ranks tied for second in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.
As a team, the ThunderWolves lead the RMAC and rank second nationally in total blocks with 126. The 5.7 blocked shots per game is third in NCAA Division II.
The Pack swatted 15 shot attempts against UCCS Jan. 14 to hold the second most team blocks in a game in NCAA Division II this season. The 12 the ThunderWolves posted against CCU Jan. 17 ranked tied for 11th.
RMAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Center Nelson Kahler has used his big block numbers to earn RMAC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this season (Jan. 9 and Jan. 16). He owns six career weekly league honors.
The ThunderWolves are 8-2 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 50-27 (.649) record. This season the ThunderWolves are outscoring opponents 83.2-71.6 at Massari Arena.
GUARDS LEADING THE WAY
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.3 points per game (T-16th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 15 of the 22 games. He is shooting 56.9 percent from the field (seventh in RMAC) and adds 6.1 rebounds per game (14th in RMAC).
The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.6 rebounds per contest to sit ninth in the RMAC. His 3.3 assists per game is 11th in the league, while the senior's 57.1 percent from the field ranks sixth. His 12.8 points per game is 26th.
Will Newman's 4.2 assists per game (92 total) ranks fourth in the conference. His 1.9 assist/turnover ratio is fifth and the 1.5 steals per game (33 total) are sixth in the league, while the 84.3 percent from the charity stripe is ninth. With 12.4 points per game, he ranks 28th.
Josh Smith owns 1.4 steals per game (29 total) to rank seventh in the RMAC.
The ThunderWolves finished 10th nationally last season with 11.0 3-pointers per game and hit on a 37.7 percentage (4th in the RMAC). This season, the Pack are shooting at a 39.5 percent clip from long range to sit fourth in the league. CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 8.5 3-pointers per contest, which is fifth in the RMAC.
Josh Smith has 54 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh in the RMAC, while Gavin Liggett's 2.2 3-pointers per game is 10th (44 daggers from downtown). Liggett has shot 44-of-93 (47.3%) from long range this season to rank fifth in the RMAC.
Liggett hit nine against Texas A&M Commerce Nov. 25 to fall one shy of the program record. The mark is the most in the RMAC this season and is tied for the fourth most in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.
The Pack are third in the conference with 15.2 assists per game.
The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 45th in the country with 84.6 points per game. The team's +8.2 scoring margin is third in the conference.
Head Coach Ralph Turner earned win number 90 with an 89-70 home win against MSU Denver Jan. 13. As the CSU-Pueblo bench boss, he owns an 95-68 (.586) record in six seasons. He owns the third most wins in ThunderWolves men's basketball history.
The Dec. 30 win against Black Hills State was the 450th in his storied men's basketball collegiate head coaching career that spans 21 seasons.
As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.