Jan. 16, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team continues play in a closely-contested Mountain West season by hosting San Jose State on Saturday at 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (10-6, 1-2 MW) have had each of their first three conference games come down to a single basket, while the Spartans (6-11, 0-5 MW) have had two of their last three games decided by four points or less.
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 also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming collected its first Mountain West win of the season with a 52-50 win at Boise State last Saturday to move to 1-2 in the conference and 10-6 overall. The Pokes' first three conference games have each been decided by a single basket and eight of UW's 16 games this season have come down to eight points or less. Against the Broncos, the Cowboys trailed by five with three minutes left, but closed the game on a 9-2 run to hand Boise State its second home loss of the season. Wyoming held BSU to just two field goals over the last 9:30 of the game and 37 points under its season average at home. The Broncos had a chance to tie or win with a three, but the Pokes stole the inbounds pass to seal the win. The Cowboys outshot the Broncos in all three categories, going 46 percent (18-of-39) from the field, 25 percent (3-of-12) beyond the arc and 76 percent (13-of-17) at the free throw line. BSU connected on 32 percent (16-of-50), 17 percent (3-of-17) and 68 percent (15-of-22), respectively. For the season, Wyoming's 48.7 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 20th in the nation, while its 37.6 percent from deep is fifth and 67.1 points per game are 11th. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW and 18th in the NCAA in scoring defense at 60.9 points per game and second in field goal percentage defense at 39.3. UW's 30.8 three-point defense is fourth.
First-year head coach Dave Wojcik and San Jose State come to Laramie at 10-6 overall and 0-5 in the MW. Much like the Pokes, though, two of SJSU's last three games have been decided by four points or less. Most recently, the Spartans lost a 77-62 game at Air Force last Wednesday to drop to 2-8 away from home this season. The game featured several runs by both squads, until the Falcons made the decisive run late in the second half. Air Force led early in the game, but SJSU took a 35-33 lead into halftime. The Falcons opened the second half with three-straight treys to retake the lead and never relinquished it. The Spartans got within six points at 61-55 with eight minutes left, but a 9-0 spurt from Air Force put the Falcons in control down the stretch. SJSU forced 23 Falcon turnovers, but got just 14 points off those turnovers, and committed 16 turnovers itself. On the season, San Jose State averages 69.4 points for 10th in the league on 40 percent from the field and 36 percent beyond the arc. The Spartans lead the MW and rank fourth in the nation at 9.9 threes per game, as they are second and third in the NCAA in three-point attempts and makes. Defensively, SJSU allows 72.0 points per game for ninth in the MW, while ranking sixth in field-goal defense at 42 percent and 10th in three-point defense at 36 percent. The Spartans are last in the league in turnover margin at minus 2.9.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. notched his six double-double of the season at Boise State last Saturday with 16 points and 10 rebounds, including the game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds left. His 15.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game pace the Pokes and rank ninth and seventh, respectively, in the MW. He also shoots 54 percent from the field for second in the MW. Junior guard Riley Grabau is Wyoming's outside threat, as he enters the game leading the conference and the nation in three-point percentage at 51.9 percent. His 2.5 threes per game are fourth in the MW, as he adds 11.6 points and 2.3 assists per contest. Sophomore guard Josh Adams has scored in double figures in five of Wyoming's last six games, as he rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 11.3 points and a team-high 2.4 assists. Senior guard Nathan Sobey has back-to-back games in double-figure points and averages 7.5 points and 2.6 rebounds. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 6.6 rebounds are 12th in the MW and he adds 5.4 points per game.
Freshman guard Rashad Muhammad posted a team-high 12 points at Air Force, as his 17.0 points per game lead the Spartans and rank seventh in the MW. His 3.2 threes per game rank first in the league and 18th in the nation. He averages a team-high 30 minutes per game, but comes off the bench and has made just one start on the season. Junior forward Jaleel Williams is SJSU's other scorer in double figures at 12.4 points per game to go with 6.2 rebounds. Senior forward Chris Cunningham's 6.4 rebounds are 14th in the conference and he adds 8.5 points, while junior guard Devante Wilson contributes 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. Freshman guard Jalen James' team-high 3.5 assists are fifth in the MW and junior guard D.J. Brown's 3.3 assists are seventh. Brown adds 5.8 points and 1.4 steals to 6.1 points and 5.0 rebounds for James. Williams and Cunningham both scored 11 points at Air Force.
About the Series
Wyoming is 4-1 all-time against San Jose State, including 3-0 in Laramie. The two programs last met twice during the 1996-97 season as members of the WAC. The Pokes earned a 75-59 home win on Jan. 23, 1997, before falling in San Jose to the Spartans, 67-62, on Feb. 22, 1997.
The Cowboys play at Air Force on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT.