Colorado State Rams players J.D. Paige (22) and Prentice Nixon (11) celebrate as they head off the court on Dec. 2, 2017 in a game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Moby Arena in Fort Collins.
Javon Harris, For the Loveland Reporter-Herald
Colorado State Rams players J.D. Paige (22) and Prentice Nixon (11) celebrate as they head off the court on Dec. 2, 2017 in a game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Moby Arena in Fort Collins.

FORT COLLINS — Home-court advantage has finally returned for the state’s biggest basketball rivalry.

Colorado State defeated Colorado, 72-63, on Saturday at Moby Arena, marking the first time a visitor lost the matchup since 2012, as the Rams (4-4) handed the Buffaloes (6-1) their first defeat of the season. CU trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half, then cut the deficit to 4 with less than a minute left, but were unable to complete the comeback.

CU’s McKinley Wright led all scorers with 19 points. CSU’s J.D. Paige and Prentis Nixon paced the Rams with 16 points each.

The teams exchanged nine first-half lead changes, the largest being a 27-19 CSU advantage propelled by an 8-0 run, as CU was held without a field goal make for nearly four straight minutes. The Rams also out-rebounded the Buffs by a 21-13 margin. CU clawed back behind Wright’s nine points over the final seven minutes, but a CSU 3-pointer from Nixon just before the first-half buzzer gave the Rams a 38-35 lead at the break.

CSU didn’t let up to start the second half. A two-handed dunk by Paige at the 12-minute mark breathed life into the 5,217 in attendance, and punctuated an 18-5 CSU run. CU employed a full-court press at times as the Rams’ advantage grew to as many as 17 points, and the pressure paid dividends. CSU did not make a field goal over the game’s final seven minutes.

When CU guard Dominique Collier hit a free throw with 58 seconds left, the lead was cut to just four points. However, the Buffaloes missed their final five shots from the field and fell short of the comeback.

CU was without forward Tory Miller-Stewart — a sophomore who started all six previous games and averaged the fourth-highest minutes (22.2), in addition to 6.2 points and 4.7 rebounds — with a broken foot, per Mark Johnson of KOA-850 AM radio, and will not return this season. The Buffaloes turned to redshirt freshman Dallas Walton, a former Arvada West standout, who filled in with six points and two rebounds.

It was the first time CSU has beaten the Buffs in back-to-back seasons since 2005-06, 2006-07.

CSU travels to face Arkansas at 6 p.m. Tuesday. CU will host New Mexico at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

For more on this game, learn what this victory means as the Rams open their toughest stretch of the season..

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