Jan. 17, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team travels to Colorado Springs, Colo., to face Air Force on Wednesday for the Cowboys' first road game of the 2011-12 Mountain West schedule. UW (14-3, 0-1) has historically dominated AFA (11-4, 1-0), but recent meetings have been closer, including a 5-5 record between the two in the last 10 matchups. Wednesday should be another close contest, as the teams are the MW's top two in scoring defense and bottom two in scoring offense. Tip between the Cowboys and Falcons is set for 6 p.m. in Clune Arena.
Fans can follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on WyomingAthletics.com. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised on The Mtn.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is 14-3 overall and 0-1 in the Mountain West after starting conference play with a 72-62 loss to New Mexico on Saturday in front of a season-high 6,955 fans in the Arena-Auditorium. The Lobos shot season highs for a UW opponent from the field and beyond the arc to hand the Cowboys their first home loss of the season (11-1). Now the Pokes start the road portion of their MW schedule, where they have a string of 16 losses. Wyoming's last conference road win was a 65-62 victory at Air Force on Feb. 28, 2009. Defense continues to be a starting point for the Cowboys, but the offense has started to execute as well. UW continued to rank third in scoring defense (52.3 ppg) in the last NCAA rankings, while ranking 16th in field goal percentage defense (37.8) and 33rd in three-point field goal percentage defense (29.7). Two of the three marks lead the MW. UW's offense has taken advantage of its trips to the charity strip, ranking eighth in the NCAA in free throw percentage (76.4). The Cowboys are also 18th in turnover margin (+3.8) and 19th in scoring margin (+13.6). At least three Cowboys have scored in double figures in the last four games.
Air Force sits at 11-4 overall and 1-0 in the MW thanks to a 74-59 win at Boise State in its latest action. The victory was AFA's largest margin of victory in a MW road game under fifth-year head coach Jeff Reynolds. The Falcons are on a five-game winning streak for their fourth-best start in program history, as four of the five victories have come by double digits. Air Force has played well at home in Clune Arena, earning a 9-1 mark this season and wins in 40 of its last 64 MW games. AFA returned three starters from a team that went 6-10 in league play last year to tie for sixth. Similar to Wyoming, Air Force is a defense first team that takes care of the ball. AFA is second in the MW and 13th nationally in scoring defense (56.7 ppg), while ranking 13th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense (37.5). One of the top three teams in the Mountain West in assists, the Falcons are 31st nationally in assists per game (15.2) and 39th in assist-turnover ratio (1.2).
Each Team's Leaders
Senior Francisco Cruz and redshirt junior Luke Martinez continue to be the leading men for Wyoming. Both guards have topped the 20-point mark three times this season. Martinez notched a career-high 23 two games ago, while Cruz followed with 22 against New Mexico. Martinez is averaging 13.3 points to Cruz's 12.6, but the duo has accomplished it different ways. Cruz is currently fourth in the MW in field goal percentage (48.2) and has the most field goals and field goal attempts for UW, while Martinez's 2.8 threes per game leads the MW and ranks 27th nationally. His 40.7 percent rate beyond the arc is fifth in the conference. Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington and senior center Adam Waddell have formed a formidable pair inside for UW. Washington scores 11.8 points per game to go with a team-high 6.2 rebounds and currently ranks in the top 10 of four MW categories, including third in blocks per game (1.0). Waddell is averaging 9.8 points and nearly a block a game as well, as he tied a career-high with four blocks against the Lobos. Senior guard JayDee Luster is the start to UW's offense and defense. He ranks sixth in the MW in assists per game (3.5) and fifth in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (3.3).
Junior guard Michael Lyons paces Air Force at 16.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, but hasn't played in the last six games due to a high ankle sprain. AFA has played well without him, though, going 5-2 since the injury. Junior forward Mike Fitzgerald and junior guard Todd Fletcher also average in double figures at 10.8 and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Fletcher is shooting a team-high 96 percent from the free throw line and Fitzgerald has connected on a team-high 29 threes. Senior forward Taylor Stewart leads AFA at 3.1 assists per game to go with 8.1 points, while junior center Taylor Broekhuis contributes 9.0 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds per contest. Freshman guard Kamryn Williams has stepped in for the injured Lyons and is averaging 5.1 points per game.
About the Series
Wyoming has a 72-30 advantage in the all-time series with Air Force, including a 29-18 mark in Colorado Springs. The Cowboys are 5-5 in their last 10 meetings with the Falcons and won a 63-61 game in Laramie on Feb. 23, 2011 in the last matchup.
Wyoming welcomes rival Colorado State to the Arena-Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Saturday.