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Green has career night as Colorado State rolls over Missouri

The SportsXchange

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Colorado State's Dorian Green scored a career-high 26 points Thursday, more than enough to push the eighth-seeded Rams to a 84-72 win over ninth-seeded Missouri in a second-round game of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region.

Green had 17 points at halftime, helping the Rams take a 47-38 lead at the break.

Head coach Larry Eustachy's offense was the perfect antidote for Missouri's defense. The Tigers rely on their speed and athleticism to get stops, force turnovers and leap in for rebounds. Colorado State, meanwhile, is very deliberate in running plays on offense and relying on execution and rebounding instead of one-on-one victories.

"I think we can play better, I really do," Eustachy said. "We had to score a lot of points to win. We're limited. We're not the most athletic and the highest-jumping team. But we've got a lot of heart."

Colorado State (26-8) jumped out to an early 15-5 edge, taking advantage of poor Missouri shooting while crashing the boards and eliminating second chances for the Tigers.

Colorado State made the most of its early possessions, shooting 15-for-26 from the floor in the first half and going a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line. Green's 17 was the catalyst for the big first half.

Green, who sat out the Mountain West Conference tournament opener against Fresno State with an injured ankle, said he was unfazed Thursday.

"When you make shots, it feels a lot better," he said. "I feel fine."

Missouri (23-11) was outrebounded 17-7 in the first half, so its 15-of-30 half from the floor didn't do much to bring it closer to the Rams.

The Rams finished with a 46-21 rebounding advantage, led by Colton Iverson's 13 boards and Pierce Hornung's eight. Colorado State entered Thursday's game No. 1 in the country in rebounding margin. Missouri was No. 3, though advanced statistics much more heavily favored the Rams.

Ken Pomeroy of KenPom.com rated the Rams No. 1 in defensive rebounding percentage and No. 2 in offensive percentage, advanced metrics to measure the amount of rebounds grabbed per opportunity. In those same ratings, Missouri was No. 9 and No. 50.

Eustachy credited his team's dominance on the board to the three days off he gave his team after the Mountain West tournament. The team had two practices before flying out to Lexington, and Eustachy said the mental rest was even more important than the bodily rest.

"I thought our team was extremely fresh going into this game," Eustachy said. "I told my wife, 'We're not going home. We're going to win this game. We'll see what happens Saturday, but we're not catching this charter Friday.' She had her bags packed and everything -- I'm joking. She didn't.

"I told her to take more money out of the ATM, because we're going to be here a while," he said. "I really did."

Missouri couldn't provide a consistent offensive threat to mount any sort of run in the second half. The closest the Tigers got was seven points, when Phil Pressey hit a 3-pointer with 5:06 to play to make the score 72-65.

However, the Rams answered with nine straight points and held Missouri without a point for the next four minutes.

"Early in the season, I said if we don't find a way to finish games properly, we're going to go home packing," Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi said. "That's exactly what happened."

Pressey scored a team-high 20 points. Oriakhi added 16 for the Tigers, and Jabari Brown had 14.

Colorado State will play top-seeded Louisville on Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16. The Cardinals, who are the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, cruised to a 79-48 rout of North Carolina A&T on Thursday.

The Rams have only appeared in one Sweet 16 in school history, in 1969.

"I think this is why we came here, to put this program on the map and make this an expected thing each year," Green said. "This is what we set to do when we first got here on campus. It's great to see the hard work pay off. We've just got to stay at it and keep going. Now we've only got 40 minutes guaranteed left, so I think it's huge for us to play with a lot of urgency. It's what we set to do when we first got here."

NOTES: Colorado State earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 1989 and only its second since 1969. The Rams lost in the first round of tournament appearances in 1990, 2003 and 2012. ... Coach Larry Eustachy, in his first year with the Rams, won his first NCAA Tournament round-of-64 game since he coached Iowa State to the Elite Eight in 2000. He won in the First Four last year as the head coach at Southern Miss. ... Missouri has lost in its opening game of the NCAA Tournament each of the past three years. Its last NCAA Tournament win was an 86-78 victory over Clemson in the 2010 tournament. ... In nine years as a head coach, Missouri's Frank Haith is 1-3 in NCAA Tournament games.
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