LEXINGTON, KY. - Don't ask Dorian Green about his ankle. It seems to be just fine.
How else would he have scored 17 points in the first half?
Green was everything for CSU on Thursday in its second-round NCAA tournament game against Missouri, leading the Rams to an 84-72 victory, their first in the Big Dance since 1989.
The senior point guard, who's been recovering the last two weeks from a sprained right ankle, scored a season-high 26 points with a pair of rebounds and assists and, growing up a Kansas fan, doing it against his childhood rival wasn't bad , either.
"When you make shots your ankle feels a lot better. I feel fine," Green said. "I just wanted to be aggressive tonight. It didn't matter if we were playing Missouri or whoever. I just wanted to be aggressive.
"It does feel good to be from Kansas and beat Missouri, but I just wanted to be aggressive. It's good to beat them from where I'm from."
Green did the bulk of Colorado State University's scoring, though Jon Octeus, Greg Smith and Wes Eikmeier were both in double-figures. Thursday was clearly a team effort, especially when it came to rebounding.
Missouri (23-11) is one of three teams in college basketball with more total rebounds per game than the Rams (26-8), but the final margin wasn't even close.
CSU, the Midwest Regional's No. 8 seed, finished with a 42-19 advantage on the boards; Colton Iverson alone had 13 in only 23 minutes. Nothing could stop the determination of CSU in the post, but with five seniors starters, that doesn't surprise Tigers' coach Frank Haith.
"Give Colorado State credit. They played their tails off. I thought they were the more aggressive team and really got after us," Haith said. "I thought they were rebounding the ball. That's what they do. They really dominated that part and dominated the 50-50 ball. They were the aggressors, and in this time of the year, that's usually the team that wins the game."
Pierce Hornung added eight rebounds and Octeus six, which helped CSU dictate the pace.
Missouri took a 2-0 lead 22 seconds into the game, and that was it for the No. 9 seed. The Tigers would never hold another edge.
There was no problem breaking Missouri's press, and even though CSU did turn the ball over 14 times to only five by the Tigers, shooting 49 percent from the field and 81.8 from the free-throw line easily made up for it.
The Rams moved the ball around the floor better than they had all season, taking time to allow driving lanes to clear up and eying the open man. A little extra hustle on 50-50 balls also went a long way.
"I thought this was a historical win for this program," CSU coach Larry Eustachy said.
"We were going to win this game. I told my wife we weren't going home (Friday) morning. We were going to stay and fire a shot at Louisville. I believe in these guys, but more importantly, they believe in themselves. It's the best group of guys I've ever been around."
CSU is happy to gut out its first postseason win since the NIT in 1999, but the celebration will have to be short-lived.
Next up is a showdown with No. 1 Louisville on Saturday, which dominated 16th-seeded North Carolina A&T 79-48.
Eustachy said the Rams are playing their best basketball of the season, beginning with practices following the Mountain West tournament, but to knock off the Cardinals, it's going to take an even better effort.
"I think we can play better. I really do. We had to score a lot of points to win. We're limited, we're not the most athletic or the highest jumping team, but we have a lot of heart," Eustachy said.
"We were playing our best, I knew it going into this game, and it showed up."
Follow reporter Matt L. Stephens at twitter.com/mattstephens and facebook.com/stephensreporting.
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