Jan. 6, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
In its last non-conference contest of the 2011-12 season, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team will host Idaho State on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (13-2) start Mountain West play on Jan. 14 against New Mexico, but first must overcome the Bengals (3-12) for the second time in less than a month. UW claimed an 80-56 win at ISU on Dec. 22. A Wyoming win on Monday would give the Pokes their best start since the 1950-51 campaign and be the program's most wins ever before the start of the conference season.
Tickets to all UW games can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at WyomingAthletics.com. Fans can also follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's games, as well as live video of the postgame press conference, through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will be broadcast on the radio through the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming enters the week at 13-2 overall for a second-place tie in the Mountain West standings after going 2-1 on its three-game road trip. The Cowboys are now 3-2 on the road this season, their most road wins since 2008-09, and will look to defend a perfect 10-0 home record on Monday in the Arena-Auditorium. UW has continued to play some of the best defense in the nation, but has also excelled on the offensive side of the ball the last two games. The Cowboys nailed a season-high 11 three-point baskets against Utah Valley on Tuesday, while setting three season-highs versus Idaho State on Dec. 22. In the last NCAA rankings, Wyoming was third in scoring defense at 51.0 points per game, fifth in field goal percentage defense (36.1) and 15th in three-point field goal percentage defense (27.4). All three marks led the Mountain West at the time. UW was also 20th in the nation in free throw percentage (75.2) and turnover margin (+4.1). In its latest action, Wyoming earned a hard-fought 76-70 win at Utah Valley on Tuesday.
Idaho State comes to Laramie at 3-12 overall and 1-3 in the Big Sky Conference. The Bengals have gone 1-4 under interim head coach Deane Martin after Joe O'Brien stepped down from the position on Dec. 22. ISU is 1-7 away from Pocatello this season, but picked up a 57-55 win at Northern Colorado on Jan. 2 in its last road game. The victory snapped UNC's 14-game home conference winning streak. Most recently, ISU lost a 73-69 home game to Montana State last Thursday and lost 68-44 to Montana at home last Saturday. The Bengals are averaging 63.0 points on 41.3 percent from the field and 33.0 percent from deep, while allowing 71.5 points on 47.1 percent and 40.8 percent, respectively. ISU has a minus 3.5 rebounding margin and minus 0.1 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
Three Cowboys are averaging in double figures in redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez, senior guard Francisco Cruz and redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington. Martinez continues to be one of the top three-point shooters in the MW, including hitting four at Utah Valley, while Cruz posted 21 points versus the Wolverines and now sits six short of 500 for his career. Washington was the late hero in UW's win over UVU with 14 points and currently leads the MW in blocks per game (1.1) while ranking in the top 10 in three other categories. Senior guard JayDee Luster moved into UW's all-time top-10 in assists during the last game and is sixth in assist-turnover ratio in the latest NCAA rankings, while senior center Adam Waddell rounds out UW's probable starters at 9.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Waddell scored 10 against UVU, as four Cowboys reached double figures for the second time this season.
Senior guard Chase Grabau and junior guard Melvin Morgan pace Idaho State at 12.2 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Grabau, the older brother of UW freshman Riley Grabau, also contributes 5.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists, while ranking 24th in the nation in assist-turnover ratio at 2.7. He is fourth in the Big Sky in assists and third in steals (1.8). Morgan has connected on a team-high 31 treys on 41.9 percent to go with 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Senior guard Kenny McGowen is the other Bengal to average in double figures at 10.7 points per game and is third on the team at 2.1 assists. Senior forward Abner Moreira is pulling down a team-high 7.1 rebounds, which ranks third in the Big Sky, to go with 5.1 points. Sophomore guard/forward Andre Hatchett has stepped into a starter's role recently and rounds out ISU's probables at 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
About the Series
Wyoming and Idaho State are meeting on the hardwood for the second time in less than a month on Tuesday. The Cowboys hold a 12-8 advantage in the all-time series, including a current five-game winning streak. The two program's last meeting was an 80-56 UW win on Dec. 22 in Pocatello, during which junior guard Derrious Gilmore notched a career-high 18 points. Wyoming is 5-5 in its last 10 games with Idaho State.
Wyoming starts the Mountain West portion of its 2011-12 campaign by hosting New Mexico on Jan. 14 at 1:30 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.