LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Wednesday's matchup between the University of Wyoming men's basketball team and San Diego State promises to be a close affair, as two of the top defensive teams in the country meet in the Arena-Auditorium at 9 p.m. MT. The No. 25 Cowboys (15-2, 4-0 MW) are winners of seven-straight games, including the last 13 in the Dome of Doom, and rank third in the nation in scoring defense, while the RV/RV Aztecs (12-4, 2-1 MW) are fourth in the category and enter as one of four one-loss teams in the conference.
Fans can help #RockTheAztecs by attending a pregame concert by Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band in the AA prior to the game. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the concert from 7-7:45 p.m. Fans may gain admission to the concert using their ticket to the basketball game and UW students can use their student ID.
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, 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 televised by ESPN2. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Larry Shyatt approaches his 300th overall game as a head coach with Wyoming sitting first in the MW at 15-2 overall and 4-0 in league play with a seven-game winning streak. The Cowboys defeated Boise State, 65-54, on Saturday in the Double A for their 13th-straight victory in the building, the program's longest streak since 2000-01. UW's 4-0 start in the league is its best since 2002-03 and just one win shy of its best ever. Against the Broncos, the Pokes maintained an advantage the majority of the second half, before two free throws gave UW its first double-digit lead of the game at 57-47 with 2:39 left. The Broncos would cut the lead to single digits briefly, but eight-straight free throws brought home the win. Wyoming shot 54 percent (22-of-41) from the field for its 12th game this season at more than 50 percent and connected on 14 of its 16 free-throw attempts for a season-high 88 percent. Boise State made a season-high 10 treys for a UW opponent, but was outrebounded 30-19 and surrendered a 28-8 advantage in points the paint. 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 sixth 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 52.2 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 13.2 fouls per game are first in the league and nation.
Head coach Steve Fisher and San Diego State have won a share of the last four regular-season MW titles and were picked to do so again in the league's preseason poll. The Aztecs are 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the MW for fourth in the conference standings, as Wednesday will be their third meeting with a nationally-ranked opponent. Most recently, SDSU earned a 56-42 home win over New Mexico last Tuesday. The Aztecs shot just 39 percent (20-of-51) from the field, but held the Lobos to 30 percent (14-of-47) and outrebounded them 37-31. Overall, San Diego State averages 62.0 points per game on 40 percent from the field and 28 percent beyond the arc, while allowing 53.5 points on 37 and 27 percent, respectively. The Aztecs rank second in the MW and fourth in the NCAA in scoring defense, while placing 13th in the nation in field goal defense and 10th in three-point defense. SDSU's 15.0 fouls per game are 16th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. notched his third double-double this season and second in the last three games with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Boise State. He also tied season highs with four assists and four blocks. The MW Preseason Player of the Year averages 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while his 59 percent from the field ranks 18th in the nation. Junior guard Josh Adams added 16 points versus the Broncos and has quietly scored in double figures in the last seven games to average 11.1 points on the season. His 3.9 assists per game are second in the league. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. adds 8.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, while his team-high 43 percent beyond the arc is fifth in the MW. Fellow senior guard Riley Grabau's 94 percent at the free throw line leads the MW and the NCAA, as he averages 8.1 points and 2.1 assists per game. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. shoots a MW-best 78 percent from the field for 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
Junior forward Winston Shepard paces San Diego State at 11.4 points, while the Preseason All-MW selection adds 4.7 rebounds. He notched 20 points against New Mexico. Senior guard Aqeel Quinn contributes 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds. His 1.7 threes per game are 10th in the league, while his 1.4 steals are also 10th. Junior forward Skylar Spencer's 2.7 blocks per game are fourth in the MW and 28th nationally, ad he adds a team-high 5.6 rebounds and 4.0 points. Senior forward JJ O'Brien averages 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, including 2.5 offensive boards, while sophomore forward Matt Shrigley rounds out SDSU's probable starters at 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.
About the Series
Wednesday's matchup marks the 75th encounter between Wyoming and San Diego State, with the Cowboys owning a 39-35 advantage in the series and a 26-8 advantage in games played in Laramie. The home squad has won the last four games in the series, including a 68-62 win by Wyoming on Feb. 11, 2014. Riley Grabau posted 17 points and Larry Nance Jr. chipped in 14 in that game to help the Pokes down No. 5 San Diego State, their first upset of a top-five opponent since 1998, while breaking a 20-game winning streak for the Aztecs.
The Pokes play at Fresno State on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT.