LARAMIE -- Niko Medved isn't downplaying the upcoming Border War against Wyoming one bit.

He knows what this upcoming two-game series in Laramie means to his Colorado State players -- and their NCAA Tournament hopes.

He gave the Cowboys plenty of credit, too.

How could he not?

Wyoming sent the Rams packing after a stunning 80-74 loss in the opening round of the Mountain West Tournament last March in Las Vegas. CSU had to overcome a 20-plus point deficit in Laramie last year, too.

That was a nine-win UW squad.

"They obviously did beat us last year," Medved said. "And to be honest, they outplayed us in two of the the three meetings. I think they've got talent. They're obviously playing better ... We know this, we're going to have to go out there and play as well as we've played all season to win Thursday. And then after that, we'll focus on Saturday."

Medved also knows beating the Cowboys starts with slowing down true freshman Marcus Williams.

The Cowboys point guard leads the team, averaging 16.3 points per outing. In his first 17 collegiate games, the Dickinson, Texas product has failed to reach double-figures in scoring just once. That came last Thursday night in San Diego.

"I've been really impressed by Marcus Williams," Medved said. "He's obviously the leading scorer, but he is terrific. I mean, he is a bucket-getter. He has got an explosive first step and can score at all three levels."

Medved even compared him to his own standout guard, Isaiah Stevens, who is averaging 15.5 points per game to go along with a team-best 6.6 assists.

"He's got some of that Isaiah Stevens in him as a young player where he he loves the big moment," he said. "He is a tremendous talent, and obviously, as a freshman, he's been Mountain West Player of the Week twice."

Williams can dish out the pretty passes, go into the dirty areas and sky to the rim with the best of them. As of late, however, he has been showing off his range, sinking nine triples in the Cowboys' last three games.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder has also earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. Since Jeff Linder benched him and removed him from the starting lineup Jan. 13 in a home tilt with league-leading Boise State, Williams has responded on the defensive end of the floor.

That's not the only coach who has respect for No. 1 in brown and gold.

"Obviously, he looks to me like the leader for Freshman of the Year in our league," Medved said. "He is a terrific player and a guy who just creates so many problems for your defense. So yeah, I've been really impressed with him and he is a really, really difficult matchup."

Wyoming (10-7, 4-6) and Colorado State (12-4, 9-3) will tip off Thursday night at 7 p.m. MST inside the Arena-Auditorium.

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