LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team faces its first road game of the Mountain West season at San Jose State on Saturday. Tip is set for 8 p.m. MT in The Event Center in San Jose, Calif. The Cowboys (12-2, 1-0) will look to build off their first win in a MW opener since 2006-07 after a 76-71 victory over UNLV last Wednesday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Spartans (2-11, 0-1) had just seven players suit up in a 61-33 loss at Utah State in their MW opener.
Fans can follow live stats, audio and video of the game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on GoWYO.com. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming and head coach Larry Shyatt sit 12-2 overall after opening the conference season with a 76-71 victory over UNLV last Wednesday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes captured their first win in a MW opener since 2006-07 by hitting nine of their last 11 free throws to hold a lead and down the Rebels, who were receiving votes in the AP poll. The Cowboys trailed 37-33 at halftime, but opened the second half with a 12-2 run to take a lead they would hold until four minutes remained in the game. UNLV pulled in front by one on a layup, but free throws pushed the Pokes back in front and a three made it 69-64 Wyoming with 1:44 left. The Rebels would cut it to a one-possession game three more times, but free throws helped UW win their 12-straight game in the Dome of Doom. Wyoming shot 54 percent (28-of-52) from the field for its 10th contest this season hitting more than 50 percent and added 31 percent (5-of-16) beyond the arc and 79 percent (15-of-19) in free throws. UNLV shot equally as well, hitting 55 percent (27-of-49) from the field and 47 percent (10-of-21) from deep, but committed 13 turnovers to just seven for UW. The Pokes converted that into a season-high 23 points off turnovers. The Rebels earned a 27-26 advantage in rebounds, but were outscored 38-28 in the paint. On the season, Wyoming averages 64.4 points per game on 51 percent from the field and 34 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys rank first in the MW and ninth nationally in field-goal percentage, while their 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio is first in the MW and ninth in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 51.4 points per game on 40 and 35 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is third in the NCAA, while its 13.7 fouls per game are fourth.
Head coach Dave Wojcik and San Jose State were picked to finish 11th in the MW preseason poll after being placed on APR sanctions during the offseason, but injuries and suspensions have further decimated the Spartans. SJSU is 2-11 overall and 0-1 in the MW, but have yet to win a game against a NCAA Division I opponent this season. Most recently, SJSU started league play with a 61-33 loss at Utah State last Wednesday. The Spartans opened with an 8-3 lead, before the Aggies responded with a 32-4 run over the final 16 minutes of the first half to take control. SJSU shot just 20 percent (12-of-60) from the floor and 21 percent (6-of-28) from three. Overall, San Jose State scores 55.3 points per game on 37 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep, while allowing 66.7 points on 43 and 39 percent, respectively. The Spartans own a minus-2.2 rebounding margin and minus-2.9 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. racked up a team-high 29 points against UNLV and now has 60 points in his last two games after scoring 31 at Montana State on Dec. 23. The MW Preseason Player of the Year leads Wyoming at 15.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, while his 58 percent from the field is 28th in the NCAA. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. has been equally as impressive with double-figure points in his last four games, a first in his career. He averages 9.0 points per contest, thanks in part to a team-high 33 dunks this season, and adds 4.7 rebounds. Cooke shoots a MW-high 78 percent from the field. Senior guard Riley Grabau will play in his 100th game in Brown and Gold on Saturday. He notched 12 points against the Rebels, including 6-of-6 in free throws and shoots a MW-best 90 percent at the charity stripe. Junior guard Josh Adams contributes 4.0 assists per game to go with 9.9 points. He ranks second in the MW in assists and third in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.2. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. rounds out UW's probable starters at 8.2 points, 3.6 boards and 3.2 dimes.
A total of 12 different Spartans have started at least one game this season, after SJSU announced season-ending injuries to two players and indefinite suspensions of five others in early December. Freshman guard Darryl Gaynor II is SJSU's leading scorer from its five starters versus Utah State. He entered with back-to-back games over 20 points, but scored just eight against the Aggies. Freshman forward Ryan Singer added eight points as well, while junior center Ivo Basor played all 40 minutes and collected 11 rebounds. Sophomores Brandon Mitchell and Isaac Thornton were SJSU's other starters against Utah State.
About the Series
Wyoming leads the all-time series with San Jose State, 6-1, including a 2-1 mark on the road. In the last meeting between the two, the Pokes earned a 46-38 win at San Jose State on Feb. 15 by holding the Spartans to just nine points in the second half. The contest marked Wyoming's lowest scoring game in shot clock history (since 1985), as the two teams combined for just 84 points, while SJSU's 38 points are the fewest the Pokes have ever allowed in MW play. Grabau had a game-high 18 points to pace the Cowboys.
The Cowboys renew the Border War at No. 24/24 Colorado State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT.