(Sports Network) -- In the hunt for the regular-season title in the Mountain West Conference, the seventh-ranked BYU Cougars continue their quest tonight as they host the Colorado State Rams at the Marriott Center in Provo.
Since losing in The Pit against New Mexico back on January 29th, the Cougars have rattled off five consecutive wins to move to 11-1 in conference play, which places them just behind league-leading San Diego State coming into the week. Over the weekend, the Cougars had little trouble dismissing the TCU Horned Frogs on the road by a score of 79-56. The victory was the 15th in the last 16 games for a BYU program that has its best record ever after 27 games.
Meanwhile, the Rams are also a team to be reckoned with as they are alone in third place in the MWC standings at 8-4. The squad has won close to 70 percent of its games this season, but on Saturday CSU hit a bump in the road with a 68-61 loss to UNLV at home. The defeat snapped a three-game win streak and moved the Rams to 8-4 at home overall in 2010-11.
In a relationship that dates back to 1937, the Cougars hold a commanding 88-45 advantage over Colorado State, having taken 55 of the 65 meetings played in Provo over the years. BYU won the first meeting of the season last month by a score of 94-85 in Fort Collins, which means the squad has now taken nine straight and 12 of the last 13 meetings in the series. In the most recent game, Jimmer Fredette exploded for 42 points as the Cougars made good on an even 50 percent from the field and turned the ball over just seven times. Wes Eikmeier led the way for the hosts with 25 points to go along with five assists and five rebounds.
Colorado State knocked down 55 percent from the field in the second half against UNLV on Saturday, but the team made just 1-of-6 behind the three-point line in the period and 4-of-17 for the entire game, all while turning the ball over 17 times under heavy Rebel pressure. Andy Ogide accounted for 19 points and seven rebounds, Wes Eikmeier 13 points off the bench and Dorian Green 10 points for the hosts. Ogide has been the leader on offense for the Rams, especially against the rest of the MWC with his 17.0 ppg as he shoots 55.9 percent from the floor. A tough rebounder for CSU with his 7.4 rpg, Ogide could stand to work on his free-throw shooting and assists which current stand at 66.2 percent and eight, respectively, over the course of 12 league outings. Travis Franklin (11.5 ppg) is also a solid shooter from the floor in conference, but he too has trouble at the charity stripe (.513) and because of it the team has dropped to 65.2 percent in league play in that department.
For the second game in a row Jimmer Fredette was held below his average, but still he put up 23 points in the win over TCU at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Fredette connected on a mere 3-of-9 shots behind the three-point line and was responsible for six of the team's 10 turnovers, so clearly he showed that he's human at times. Stephen Rogers came off the bench to put up 15 points, while Brandon Davies and Jackson Emery tallied 11 apiece and Noah Hartsock 10 points and eight rebounds in the decision. The nation's leading scorer with 27.2 ppg overall this season, Fredette is posting an astounding 31 ppg on Mountain West members, shooting not only 46.5 percent beyond the arc in those 12 meetings, but also an incredible 90.4 percent at the charity stripe, so there's no easy way to slow him down. Emery (13.8 ppg) is also productive beyond the arc at close to 40 percent, but he tends to get much more attention for his efforts on defense which have resulted in better than 2.5 steals per contest in MWC play.
The Marriott Center has been a good-luck charm for the Cougars for several years now and with the massive crowd serving as the sixth man, there's little BYU can't do