Anytime you can move past Kansas at anything basketball related you know you’re doing something right.
After the Jayhawks’ 85-80 loss to Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse and CSU’s 65-46 win over Wyoming Saturday, the Rams now boast the nation’s third-longest active home winning streak at 26 games.
Syracuse leads the clubhouse with 35 straight wins at the Carrier Dome and South Dakota State ranks second with 28 in a row at Frost Arena.
The last time CSU lost a home game, current coach Larry Eustachy was roaming the opposite sideline, Boise State and San Diego State looked poise to jump to the Big East and “Gangam Style” was just a twinkle in Psy’s eye.
In that game, then-Southern Miss junior LaShay Page buried 11-15 shots, including 8-11 from behind the three-point line, for 30 points to lead the Golden Eagles to victory.
He has since transferred to South Carolina and was declared academically ineligible in January due to what the university and coach Frank Martin are calling an “academic glitch.”
What a difference more than a year makes.
That CSU team had chronic issues playing on the road and siphoned as much energy as it could from the home crowd, relying on accurate field goal shooting and low-error basketball to win.
This year’s squad, though with similar personnel, has undergone a philosophical metamorphosis.
They grind out possessions on the defensive end and attempt to play “every inch of the floor.”
Regardless of style, however, both teams won and won and won.
Last year’s CSU team knocked off three ranked teams at Moby Arena and a CU-Boulder squad that made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The 2012-13 Rams may finish undefeated at home while intimidating the hell out of every opponent that steps through the doors.
Both teams are good to be sure, but award at least some credit to the legions of Ram fans filling the seats on a regular basis.
CSU only registered one “official” sellout last year (Wyoming) and has also only filled Moby to the brim once this season (also Wyoming) but the atmosphere has regularly been electric, particularly once the student population returned for the spring semester.
7,626 people officially attended the January 19 game against UNLV, but you would have been hard-pressed to find space for 1,000 more people in that arena.
More important than the individual numbers though, was that game created an atmosphere at Moby, an ambiance that fans from all backgrounds replicated and exceeded Saturday evening against Wyoming.
General public tickets for the game sold out by Wednesday and students took advantage of their new ability to pick up basketball tickets early, gobbling them up by Friday.
That would have been unheard of, a pipe dream in just about any previous CSU basketball season.
I once walked in at halftime of a game against then No. 6 New Mexico my freshman year because the score was close and I wanted to see how it ended.
I guarantee no one could have pulled that off in Saturday’s Wyoming game.
By selling out this game so (relatively) far in advance, that increases the urgency of anyone wanting tickets to the next home game next Wednesday against San Diego State.
Basketball has become now a hot-ticket sport at CSU.
It’s partly because of the win streak and partly due to the atmosphere fans have created, but more than anything the two feed off of each other.
As the team wins more fans show up and cheer louder and as more fans show up and cheer louder the team wins more.
Consecutive sellouts at Moby are about as rare as unicorns, but if Saturday’s game was any indication, the arena will be rocking again next Wednesday for the Aztecs.
Don’t squander the opportunity to be a part of that atmosphere.
CSU may have leaps and bounds ahead of it before it can jump into the upper echelon of basketball schools with Kansas, but creating a raucous home court advantage and building a lengthy winning streak are great places to start.