LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Border War is always important, but Wednesday's may be a little extra special, as the Mountain West showdown features two squads with conference-title aspirations. Wyoming (13-2, 2-0) is off to its best start in conference play since 2006-07, while Colorado State (14-1, 1-1) began the season with 14-straight victories, before falling in its last outing. The Cowboys and Rams are the only two MW teams currently receiving votes in both national polls.
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 and streamed online on the MW Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2006-07 after a 64-59 win at San Jose State last Saturday. Head coach Larry Shyatt and the Cowboys trailed by as many as eight points early in the second half, as the Spartans held an advantage through the first 10 minutes after halftime. Wyoming reeled off a 15-3 run, though, to go in front 55-49 with four minutes left. SJSU would claw back within one, but free throws helped UW win. The Pokes had another big night at the charity stripe, connecting on 23-of-30 attempts for 77 percent and its seventh game this season with 20 or more free throw attempts. The Spartans committed 20 fouls to a season-low three for the Pokes. UW continued to shoot well, hitting 50 percent (19-of-38) from the field, but made just three of its 12 three-point attempts. The Spartans shot 44 percent (24-of-54) from the field and 8-of-24 from deep. The Pokes outrebounded SJSU, 32-24. On the season, Wyoming averages 64.3 points per game on 51 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys rank first in the MW and eighth nationally in field-goal percentage, while their 1.52 assist-to-turnover ratio is first in the MW and ninth in the nation. UW's 10.3 turnovers per game led the MW and rank 13th nationally. Defensively, the Pokes allow 51.9 points per game on 40 and 35 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is third in the NCAA, while its 13.0 fouls per game are first.
After qualifying for the NCAA tournament two seasons ago, head coach Larry Eustachy has Colorado State rolling again. The Rams tallied 14 wins to start the season and were ranked No. 24 in both polls as one of the final four unbeatens, before dropping a 66-53 game at New Mexico on Saturday in their last outing. CSU trailed 35-26 at halftime, but opened the second half with a 7-2 spurt. The Lobos responded with eight-straight points to lead by double digits for the first time and expanded the advantage to as many as 20 points down the stretch. The Rams were held to a season-low 53 points on just 33 percent (18-for-55) shooting. CSU outrebounded UNM 34-30, but was outscored 42-16 in the paint. Overall, the Rams average 71.8 points, second in the MW, on 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep. CSU's 7.3 threes per game are third in the league, while its 15.5 assists are third in the MW and 23rd nationally. The Rams rank 13th in the NCAA in free throws attempted and 16th in makes. Defensively, the Rams allow 63.5 points, seventh in the conference on 43 and 36 percent, respectively. CSU's plus-5.0 rebounding margin is fifth in the MW and its 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is 30th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. continues to lead Wyoming at 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. The reigning MW Player of the Week shoots 58 percent from the field, good for 25th in the NCAA. He notched 18 points and a season-high 13 rebounds at San Jose State. Junior guard Josh Adams also averages in double figures at 10.6 points per game, including a season-high 20 points against the Spartans. Adams' team-high 3.9 assists per game are second in the league, while his 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio is tied for second with fellow Cowboy Charles Hankerson Jr. The senior guard posted 12 points and four assists at SJSU and averages 8.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Senior guard Riley Grabau shoots 93 percent at the free throw line, first in the MW and ninth in the NCAA, for 8.0 points and 2.1 assists per contest, while senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. averages 8.7 points and 4.6 rebounds, including a MW-best 77 percent from the field.
Redshirt senior forward J.J. Avila leads Colorado State at 13.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He ranks eighth in the MW in scoring, fourth in rebounding and seventh in field goal percentage at 53 percent. Senior guard Daniel Bejarano, a preseason All-MW selection, also averages 3.2 assists per game, good for sixth in the league, while adding 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds. He ranks fifth in the MW in rebounds after a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards at UNM. Redshirt senior forward Stanton Kidd contributes 11.4 points, as his 50 percent beyond the arc is third in the MW and his 79 percent at the charity stripe is seventh. Junior guard Joe De Ciman adds 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, while redshirt junior forward Tiel Daniels rounds out CSU's probable starters at 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds. Avila, Bejarano, Kidd and De Ciman have started all 15 games for the Rams this season.
About the Series
Wednesday will be the 222nd meeting between Wyoming and Colorado State, as the Cowboys own a 129-92 advantage in the all-time series with Rams. The Pokes are 51-55 in Fort Collins, but have not won there since Feb. 25, 2009, as CSU has won eight of the last 10 games between the two. In their last meeting, Wyoming won an 83-75 home game on March 8, 2014. Nathan Sobey posted a career-high 33 points in that game and Josh Adams added 22.
The Pokes host Boise State on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com.