PUEBLO, Colo. (February 9, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (16-7, 14-4 RMAC) battles Westminster College (13-6, 13-4 RMAC) in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference road game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
With a 14-4 RMAC record, the ThunderWolves are third in the RMAC standings, just a half game up on Westminster.
Last Time Out
The Pack dished out 25 assists in a 97-81 RMAC home victory against New Mexico Highlands University, Tuesday.
The ThunderWolves shot 56.9 percent from the field, which included a 64.5 percent effort in the second half where they outscored the Cowboys by 15 points. The Pack totaled 52 points in the paint and allowed 38, 22 of which was in the first half.
Five players scored in double figures, guided by senior Nelson Kahler's season-high 26. He was 9-for-11 (81.8%) from the field and hit 8-of-9 from the free throw line. He also added eight rebounds, five blocks and four assists with a steal.
Senior Rico Spikes also blew up the stat sheet, as he fell just one rebound shy of a triple-double. He totaled 15 points, a career-high 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Junior Mark Williams went 8-for-9 (88.9%) from the field and totaled 17 points in just 21 minutes off the bench. Donovan Oldham added 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Guard Gavin Liggett hit two of the Pack's seven 3-pointers and totaled 10 points.
The ThunderWolves allowed a lot of easy buckets in the first half and at the break led by just one at 42-41. The second half was all CSU-Pueblo, as the home team led 59-49 six minutes into the frame. Four different players scored during the 17-8 start to the fresh 20 minutes.
The ThunderWolves lead was seven at 65-58 at the midway point of the half, but again the Pack responded with a 16-5 run during the next three minutes of game clock to put the visitor's away for good. Kahler scored 10 points during the run.
The Griffins are one of the hottest teams in the RMAC, as they are riding an eight-game winning streak. WC owns a 13-6 overall record with a 13-4 mark in league play. More impressive is the fact six of those eight wins have come on the road. Westminster is home its final five games of the season where they own a 5-1 record. The Griffins are allowing 68.2 points per game to rank third in the RMAC and lead the league in field goal percent defense (allowing 39.3%). Dayon Goodman leads the team with 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Zerrion Payton adds 13.7 points and a team-high 3.7 assists per game.
Last time versus the Griffins
The Pack hosted the Griffins Dec. 10 and won 87-69. The Pack shot 48.4 percent and allowed 43.3 percent. All five starters scored in double-figures, guided by an 18-point, 14-rebound effort by senior Rico Spikes.
The Pack are shooting 50.8 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits ninth nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and 15 of the 23 contests. The ThunderWolves are 11-4 when shooting above the 50 percent mark.
The Pack have five players shooting above 50 percent, guided by Mark Williams' 58.3 percentage, which is 38th nationally. Nelson Kahler owns a 58.2 percentage this season.
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 74 blocks this season to again lead the league and rank fourth nationally. The 3.22 swats per game is fourth in NCAA Division II. Second place in the RMAC owns 37 blocks, 37 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 138 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 133. The 5.8 blocked shots per game is fourth 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 9-2 at home this season and under sixth-year Pack Head Coach Ralph Turner, CSU-Pueblo owns a 51-27 (.654) record. This season the ThunderWolves are outscoring opponents 84.5-72.5 at Massari Arena.
Guards Leading the Way
The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.4 points per game (T-16th in RMAC). He has come off the bench in 16 of the 23 games. He is shooting 58.3 percent from the field (fourth in RMAC) and adds 6.0 rebounds per game (15th in RMAC).
The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.7 rebounds per contest to sit ninth in the RMAC. His 3.6 assists per game is eighth in the league, while the senior's 57.4 percent from the field ranks eighth. His 1.4 assist/turnover ratio is 11th, while the 12.9 points per game is 26th.
Will Newman's 4.1 assists per game (95 total) ranks fourth in the conference. His 1.9 assist/turnover ratio is sixth and the 1.4 steals per game (33 total) are also sixth in the league, while the 84.3 percent from the charity stripe is ninth.
Josh Smith owns 1.4 steals per game (30 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 39.1 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 56 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh in the RMAC, while Gavin Liggett's 2.2 3-pointers per game is 11th (46 daggers from downtown). Liggett has shot 46-of-102 (45.1%) from long range this season to rank ninth 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 15.6 assists per game.
CSU-Pueblo dished out 25 assists in the win against New Mexico Highlands Tuesday.
The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 39th in the country with 85.2 points per game. The team's +8.5 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 96-68 (.589) 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.