Jan. 7, 2013
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team opens its 14th season in the Mountain West on Wednesday when the Cowboys host Boise State at 8 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The 13-0 Pokes have crafted the best start in program history to climb into a top-25 poll for the first time since the 1987-88 campaign. UW is 25th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 27th in the Associated Press Poll, but now faces the top offensive team in the conference in the Broncos. BSU leads the league in points, scoring margin, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at GoWYO.com. Fans can follow live stats and live video of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by ROOT Sports.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming has rattled off a 13-0 start to the season, the program's best ever, to climb into the national top-25 rankings for the first time since the final poll of the 1987-88 season. The Cowboys are ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and are 27th in the Associated Press poll. The Pokes are 26-3 all-time at home when they are ranked, including 11-1 in the AA. In its latest action, Wyoming claimed a 59-56 win at SMU last Wednesday. The two squads exchanged the lead 15 times and had eight ties, before the Cowboys etched out a slim margin late in the game and held on down the stretch. Wyoming limited the Mustangs to no three-point baskets (0-of-5) en route to becoming just the second program ever to enter the MW season undefeated. The Poke offense averages 68.5 points per game on 46 percent from the field, 34 percent beyond the arc and 74 percent at the free throw line. UW's field goal, three-point and free throw percentage all rank third in the Mountain West. Defensively, the Cowboys lead the conference and rank eighth in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 54.6 points per game, while placing fourth in the MW in field goal percentage defense at 39.5. UW's plus 3.5 turnover margin is second in the Mountain West.
Head coach Leon Rice and the Broncos went 13-17 overall and 3-11 in the MW last season for seventh in the league, but returned four starters and eight letterwinners this season. That group has helped Boise State start the 2012-13 campaign with an impressive 12-2 mark, including 7-0 at home and 3-2 on the road. BSU's two losses were at 74-70 defeat at No. 15 Michigan State and a 76-55 loss at Utah. The Broncos have won 10 of their 12 games by double digits and are winners in their last six contests. Most recently, Boise State earned a 106-39 home win over Walla Walla on Saturday, during which four Broncos scored in double figures and two over the 20-point mark. BSU ranks as one of the top offensive teams in the MW, leading the conference in points per game (79.1), scoring margin (+17.5), field goal percentage (48.7) and three-point field goal percentage (41.3). The Broncos make 8.6 threes per game for second in the MW. Defensively, Boise State allows opponents 61.6 points per game on 41.8 percent from the field and 30.3 percent beyond the arc. BSU has a plus 6.6 rebounding margin and plus 3.3 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
The reigning MW Player of the Week, senior forward Leonard Washington paces the way for the Cowboys at 15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He is one of three MW players to rank in the top 10 of the conference in all three categories. He posted his sixth double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds at SMU in UW's latest action. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore runs the point for the Pokes and adds 11.8 points and a team-high 3.1 assists per game. He ranks fifth in the MW in three-point percentage (41.5) and seventh in threes per game (2.0). Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 11.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau missed time with a knee injury, but made his first start since Dec. 1 last Wednesday. He averages 5.5 points and 2.7 assists with just seven turnovers on the season. Freshman guard Josh Adams, who filled in for Grabau when he was injured, will now be asked to fill in for senior guard Luke Martinez, who is out indefinitely with a hand injury. Adams averages 5.8 points and 1.5 assists per game. Nance and Adams also hit double figures against SMU.
Sophomore guard Derrick Marks leads Boise State at 16.3 points and 4.0 assists per game, which rank fifth and fourth in the MW, respectively. Marks also leads the league in free throw percentage (87.5) and steals (2.2). Sophomore guard/forward Anthony Drmic adds 15.4 points and 4.8 rebounds, ranking fourth in the league in field goal percentage (49.3), three-point field goal percentage (41.9) and threes per game (2.5). Junior guard Jeff Elorriage is the top three-point shooter in the MW at 48 percent beyond the arc and 3.2 threes per game. Those marks lead the league and rank eight and 12th in the nation, respectively. Junior forward Ryan Watkins adds 9.1 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds. Redshirt freshman guard Michael Thompson earned his first start of the season on Saturday, subbing for sick sophomore guard Igor Hadziomerovic. Watkins posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds against Walla Walla, while Drmic added 22 points also.
About the Series
The Pokes have a 10-5 advantage in the all-time series with Boise State, including a 7-3 lead in the last 10 meetings. The Broncos are 1-7 in Laramie with their only win coming in 1984. Wyoming has won the last three meetings between the two programs.
Wyoming continues play in the Mountain West at Nevada on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT.