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It’s Tourney Time, Baby!!!

Horizon League Conferences started on Tuesday with CSU playing UIC

BY Jim Berdysz

March 3, 2011

The Vikings men’s basketball game began their run at a possible NCAA tournament bid this past Tuesday, knocking off No. 10 seeded UIC 73-63. With the victory, CSU will advance to the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Championship against No. 6 seeded Wright State this Friday at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee.

Leading the charge for the Vikings against UIC was none other than senior point guard Norris Cole, who finished the game with 26 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Not far behind Cole was junior Jeremy Montgomery, adding 17 points of his own against the Flames. A big key to victory for the Vikings was turnovers, as CSU forced 19 turnovers against UIC resulting in 17 points throughout the game.

This was the first of a possible four games in the Horizon League Championship. The Vikings entered the tournament after knocking off Green Bay last Saturday 64-57, becoming Horizon League Champions for the first time in school history. What looked like an easy shoe in as the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League Championship though became a tough task down the stretch.

CSU may have the best overall record at 25-7, but with a tough 87-83 loss to Milwaukee last Thursday, the Vikings finished in a three-way tie for first place with Butler and Milwaukee all with 13-5 Horizon League records.
If the Vikings have any chance at all to advance further in the Horizon League Championship, the team needs to continue to be led by Cole, who recently was named both the Horizon League’s Player and Defensive Player of the Year, the first player in league history to do so.

“It’s a special award,” Cole said. “I think of it as of a team award as well as an individual award based on the success of our team. Normally the person who wins Player of the Year, their team is first place in the league or among the top in the league.”

Cole averaged 21.6 points per game during the regular season, and also led the team in both assists (5.5) and steals (2.2) per game as well. In Tuesday’s game he became the CSU all-time leader in made free throw and attempts.

The road to the NCAA tournament may have gotten tougher for Head Coach Gary Waters and his Vikings team, but with three wins this upcoming week, CSU will get themselves back in the limelight of the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. See video on Youtube of game.