LARAMIE, Wyo. -
First place in the Mountain West is on the line Saturday when the University of Wyoming men's basketball team visits Fresno State. The 25th-ranked Cowboys (15-3, 4-1 MW) had their seven-game winning streak broken Wednesday and now visit the Bulldogs (9-9, 4-1 MW) who have won four straight and are 9-0 all-time against Wyoming at home. The two teams are tied with New Mexico atop the MW at 4-1. Tip is set for 5 p.m. MT in the Save Mart Center.
Fans can follow live stats, audio and ESPN3 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.
A Look at the Matchup
Head coach Larry Shyatt and Wyoming enter the weekend at 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference after a 60-52 loss to San Diego State on Wednesday in Laramie. The defeat snapped a seven-game overall winning streak and a 13-game, home-court winning streak for the Pokes. Wyoming trailed the entire second half, but would whittle the advantage to 51-46 with 1:21 left on two free throws. That would be as close as the Pokes could get. The Aztecs didn't make a field goal the last nine minutes of the game, but snagged offensive rebounds and converted at the charity stripe. The Cowboy offense struggled to 52 points, its second-lowest output this season, by shooting 42 percent (18-of-43) from the field and 29 percent (4-of-14) from deep. The Aztecs weren't much better at 37 percent (18-of-49) and 29 percent (5-of-17), respectively, but outrebounded the Pokes 34-26, including 13-5 on the offensive glass. SDSU forced Wyoming into 13 turnovers and owned a 16-2 advantage in points off turnovers and 15-2 in second-chance points. On the season, Wyoming averages 63.4 points per game on 50 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys rank first in the MW and ninth nationally in field-goal percentage, while their 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the MW and 23rd in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 52.6 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 13.6 fouls per game are first in the league and third in the nation.
Head coach Rodney Terry and Fresno State are one of the hottest teams in the conference. The Bulldogs are just 9-9 overall, but own a 4-1 mark in the league with a four-game winning streak, currently the longest in the MW. Most recently, Fresno State won at 73-62 contest at San Jose State on Wednesday. The Bulldogs led by two at halftime, but used runs of 13-7 and 12-5 early in the second half to take control. As a team, Fresno State hit 52 percent (26-of-50) from the field overall and 75 percent (12-of-16) from the line. Overall, the Bulldogs average 65.8 points per game for fifth in the league on 43 percent from the field and 31 percent beyond the arc. Defensively, Fresno State is ninth in the league in scoring defense, allowing 64.7 points per game. FSU's opponents shoot 43 percent from the field and 34 percent from deep. The Bulldogs are second in the league with a plus-2.1 turnover margin, but ninth in rebounding margin at minus 0.9. FSU's 7.7 steals per game are 59th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Aztecs, as the MW Preseason Player of the Year has scored in double figures in seven-straight games. He averages 15.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while his 59 percent from the field ranks 17th in the nation. Junior guard Josh Adams added 14 points versus the Aztecs and has reached double figures in eight-straight contests to average 11.2 points. His 3.7 assists per game are second in the league, while his 1.3 steals are ninth. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. contributes 8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists, while his team-high 44 percent from deep ranks fifth in the MW. Fellow senior guard Riley Grabau can shoot as well, hitting 95 percent at the free throw line to lead the MW and the NCAA. He averages 8.0 points and 2.0 assists per game, while senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. adds 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds. Cooke shoots a MW-best 76 percent from the field this season.
Fresno State junior guard Marvelle Harris is one of the top scorers in the MW, as he leads the league and ranks 41st in the NCAA at 18.3 points per game. He also paces the conference at 2.1 steals per game, while ranking fourth with 3.7 assists and 12th at 5.2 rebounds. He had 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals versus the Spartans. Sophomore guard Paul Watson and redshirt junior guard Julien Lewis both average 11.5 points per game. Watson had a game-high 19 points against San Jose State. Sophomore forward Emmanuel Owootoah contributes 4.4 points, while senior forward Alex Davis rounds out FSU's probable starters at 4.0 points and 3.6 rebounds. Nine different Bulldogs have started at least one game this season, as Watson is the only to start at 18 games.
About the Series
Wyoming trails in the all-time series with Fresno State, 8-11, and is 0-9 in the city of Fresno. The Pokes have won two of the last three contests, though, including a 72-66 victory in Laramie on Feb. 18, 2014, in the last meeting. Nathan Sobey posted 26 points in that game and the Cowboys made free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Pokes host New Mexico on Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com.