SDSU’s loss to Colorado St. opens up Mountain West race

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It was the second court storming of this Saturday, Jan. 28th in college basketball.

After Kansas fell to Iowa State in Ames, Colorado State followed suit 700 miles to the west, scoring an upset over No. 12 San Diego State, 77-60, in Fort Collins, Colo.

“I about got trampled here. Our students have been phenomenal,” said Colorado State coach Tim Miles after the game, surrounded by a sea of fans. “We just shared the ball. We moved people. We moved the ball. It was just fun to watch. All I could do was sit there and watch.”

Wes Eikmeier and Will Bell combined for 36 points for the Rams (14-6, 3-2), lifting the program to its first win over a ranked opponent since beating then-No. 25 Air Force in the Mountain West tournament in March of 2004.

For some perspective, at that time, George W. Bush was a few months away from winning re-election, Martha Stewart had just been convicted and was headed to prison, and the No. 1 song in the country was Usher’s “Yeah!”

San Diego State never got back within 10 points after the 1:17 mark of the first half on Saturday, shooting 3-of-21 from three-point range, including 0-of-6 from guard Chase Tapley.

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So follow this train of thought, which is the current state of the Mountain West:

New Mexico was picked to win the conference in the preseason, garnering 22 of 26 first place votes. On Jan. 25th, the Lobos beat Colorado State by 33 points. Even with that big win, they sit at fifth in the conference.

San Diego State, who lost their four top scorers from 2010-11 and received no first place votes in the preseason poll, had climbed into the Top 15, then ran into Colorado State on Saturday, fresh off that 33-point loss.

And as everyone else battles it out, No. 12 UNLV comes out looking clean. After their loss to San Diego State on Jan. 14th, the Rebels have now recovered and capitalized on the door left open by the Aztecs, beating Air Force in overtime on the road to pull into a tie for first.

San Diego State has two games in which they will be favored, home against Boise State and TCU, before a rematch with UNLV in Sin City.

The focus for the Aztecs is defense, as Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote this past week.

Steve Fisher’s team allowed Colorado State to shoot 6-of-13 from the perimeter and sent the Rams to the line 23 times (where they shot a perfect 100 percent). Chalk it up as a loss.

Fortunately for the Aztecs, all seems well with Jamaal Franklin, who was the only real bright spot on Saturday afternoon. He finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

But, most prominently, Colorado State inserts itself firmly into the conversation with this win.

Dave Ommen has the Rams as a bubble team in NBC’s latest NCAA tournament projections, and will be helped by tonight’s win.

“It absolutely felt great. We knew this game was going to be a battle. It’s been a fun atmosphere,” said Colorado State co-captain Pierce Hornung. ““We have a lot of Mountain West games still to play, but this one is huge.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_