LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Saturday's Mountain West matchup between the University of Wyoming men's basketball team and Boise State will be a battle of strengths. The Cowboys (14-2, 3-0) sit atop the conference standings with the best scoring defense in the league and third nationally, while the Broncos (10-5, 0-2) own a scoring offense that leads the conference. Tip is set for 4 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium, where the Pokes have won 12-straight games.
Fans can be a "Student for a Game," as $20 gets a seat in the student section, an exclusive T-shirt, a souvenir mug and a free fountain Pepsi product. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com. Fans can follow live stats and audio 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 televised by CBS Sports Network. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming paces the MW at 14-2 overall and 3-0 in league play after a 60-54 win at Colorado State on Wednesday, the Pokes' first victory in Moby Arena since 2009. UW never trailed, but never led by much. The Pokes held a 31-26 lead at halftime and scored the first seven points out of the break to go in front by 12. Wyoming extended the advantage to as much as 43-30 through the first five minutes, before the Rams crafted an 11-1 run to make it a single-possession game at 44-41. UW and CSU would trade buckets down the final five minutes, as the Rams pulled within two at 56-54 with one minute left. The Cowboys would hit a three with 20 seconds remaining, though, and got a stop on the defensive end to seal the victory. Wyoming shot 45 percent (18-of-40) from the field to 34 percent (17-of-50) for Colorado State. Neither team shot well behind the arc, as UW hit five of its 18 attempts and just two of 14 for CSU. The two teams combined for 41 fouls and 33 turnovers. On the season, Wyoming averages 64.1 points per game on 50 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys rank first in the MW and seventh nationally in field-goal percentage, while their 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is first in the MW and 16th in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 52.1 points per game on 40 and 34 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is first in the MW and third in the NCAA, while its 13.3 fouls per game are first and second, respectively.
Head coach Leon Rice and Boise State visit Laramie tied for ninth in the MW standings at 10-5 overall and 0-2 in league play. The Broncos were picked to finish second in the conference's preseason poll, but have lost three-straight contests. Most recently, BSU dropped a 62-61 home game to Utah State last Saturday. The Broncos trailed 57-45 with 7:07 remaining but fought back to take the lead on a pair of foul shots with 1:02 left. The Broncos missed four free throws in the final six minutes, including the front end of a one-and-one with nine seconds left that let the Aggies sink the game-winning three as time expired. BSU lost despite making 10 of 23 shots from three-point range and outrebounding USU, 37-27. Overall, Boise State's 71.8 points per game lead the MW and are 92nd in the NCAA. The Broncos shoot 46 percent from the field for third in the conference, while leading the league at 38 percent from deep and 73 percent at the charity stripe. Boise State's 7.9 threes per game are first in the MW and 42nd nationally. Defensively, BSU allows 62.8 points per game, fifth in the MW, while opponents shoot 41 percent and 32 percent, respectively. The Broncos own a plus-2.8 rebounding margin, fourth in the conference and a plus-1.7 turnover margin, third in the league.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. tweaked his knee at Colorado State, but still managed 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. The MW Preseason Player of the Year should be fine for Saturday. He paces Wyoming at 15.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.1. blocks per game, while his 58 percent from the field is third in the MW and 23rd nationally. Junior guard Josh Adams and senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. chipped in 13 points apiece against the Rams. Adams has quietly scored in double figures in the last six games to average 10.8 on the season. His 3.9 assists per game are second in the league. Hankerson tied a career high with three treys versus CSU, as his 44 percent beyond the arc is fourth in the MW and his 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is second. He averages 8.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Senior guard Riley Grabau's 93 percent at the free-throw line is first in the MW and fifth in the NCAA, as he contributes 7.6 points and 2.0 assists per game. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. shoots a MW-best 77 percent from the field for 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
The Broncos have been without the services of two-time All-MW honoree Anthony Drmic since Dec. 30, as the school announced his season-ending ankle surgery. The senior guard was averaging 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Fellow senior guard Derrick Marks has stepped up in his place, pacing the Broncos at 17.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Marks ranks third in the MW in scoring, while his 58 percent beyond the arc and 2.3 threes per game lead the league. Redshirt sophomore forward James Webb III contributes 8.6 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds. He is sixth in the MW on the boards and his 59 percent from the field is second. Sophomore forward Nick Duncan's 1.8 treys per game are fifth in the league, as he averages 8.7 points and 3.0 rebounds. Redshirt junior guard Mikey Thompson adds 9.6 points and senior guard Igor Hadziomerovic rounds out BSU's probable starters at 4.5 points.
About the Series
Wyoming owns an 11-8 advantage in the all-time series with Boise State, including 7-3 in Laramie. The road team has won four of the last six games between the two, though. In the last meeting, the Broncos earned a 72-63 road win on March 1, 2014. Josh Adams scored a career-high 29 points in that game and UW held a 38-32 lead at halftime, but BSU shot over 60 percent from the field and beyond the arc in the second half to win.
The Pokes host San Diego State on Wednesday at 9 p.m. MT.