Jan. 17, 2013
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team hosts its second ranked foe of the season on Saturday when the Cowboys square off with No. 15/14 San Diego State at 5:30 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (14-2, 1-2 MW) struggled in a road loss at Fresno State on Wednesday, but have defeated eight of the last 13 top-25 teams to visit the Double A. The Aztecs (14-3, 2-1 MW) suffered their first defeat of the Mountain West season with an 82-75 loss at home to No. 23 UNLV on Wednesday, as all three of their MW games have been decided by seven points or less.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at GoWYO.com. Fans can follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by Time Warner Cable SportsNet, which is available on DirecTV channel 691.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming fell to 14-2 overall and 1-2 in the MW after a 49-36 loss at Fresno State on Wednesday. The Pokes led midway through the first half, but struggled on the offensive end the rest of the contest, as the Bulldogs led by as many as 20 in the second half to pull away for the win. The Cowboy offense shot season lows of 24 percent (12-of-50) from the field, 18 percent (5-of-27) from deep and 35 percent (7-of-20) at the free throw line, while its 12 field goals were also a season low. Despite the recent struggle, Wyoming has been a pretty balanced squad this season. The Pokes average 65 points per game on 45 percent from the field and 34 percent beyond the arc. Those percentages rank fifth and fourth in the conference, respectively. UW makes 7.1 threes per game for third in the MW, while its plus 3.0 turnover margin is second. On the defensive end, Wyoming ranks first in the league and seventh in the nation in scoring defense at 54.4 points per game. UW's holds opponents to 39 percent from the field, ranking fourth in the MW, but allows opponents to hit 34 percent beyond the arc for seventh in the league.
Long-time head coach Steve Fisher has San Diego State poised to make another run in the NCAA tournament, after making it to the second round last season. The Aztecs returned four starters from that squad and currently sit 14-3 overall on the season and 2-1 in league play for a second-place tie in the MW standings. SDSU began conference play with a narrow 65-62 win at Fresno State, before earning a 79-72 overtime win over Colorado State at home. Most recently, the Aztecs lost an 82-75 home game to UNLV on Wednesday night. The contest was tied, 76-76, with 3:43 to go, but SDSU missed shots down the stretch for just its fifth loss in the last 63 home games. The Aztec offense scores 72 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from deep, but shoots just 67 percent at the free throw line. SDSU ranks third in the MW in three-point percentage, but last in the league in free throw percentage. Defensively, the Aztecs allow 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep, as both marks are third. Their 5.0 blocks per game are second.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Leonard Washington continues to be Wyoming's top player at 14.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. His rebounds are fifth in the MW and blocks are second, while his 51 percent from the field is third. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. also score in double figures at 11.0 and 10.6 points, respectively. Gilmore adds a team-high 2.6 assists per game and nearly two threes per game, while Nance contributes 7.1 rebounds and a team-high 56 percent from the field. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau has scored in double figures in the last three contests, including a career-high 12 points against Nevada last Saturday, to average 6.6 points and 2.5 assists. Freshman guard Josh Adams has worked his way into the starting lineup and earned the nod in the last seven games. He averages 6.3 points and 1.6 assists per game. Nance posted 10 points and nine rebounds against Fresno State, while Grabau posted 10 points as well and Washington had 10 rebounds with six points.
The reigning MW Player of the Year, junior guard Jamaal Franklin has been just as impressive this season. He averages a double-double at 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds to go with 3.1 assists and 1.1 blocks. He ranks in the top 10 of 10 MW statistical categories, including second in points and rebounds. Senior guard Chase Tapley was selected to the preseason All-MW team as well and has shown why. He averages 15.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. His 42 percent from deep is second in the MW and his 2.5 threes per game are third. Junior guard Xavier Thames adds 9.8 points and 2.4 assists, while senior forward DeShawn Stephens contributes 6.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. Sophomore forward JJ O'Brien rounds out SDSU's probable five at 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds. Franklin posted 27 points and seven rebounds against UNLV, while Winston Shepard added 18 points off the bench and Tapley had 16.
About the Series
The Pokes own a 37-34 advantage in the all-time series with the Aztecs, including 24-8 in Laramie, but Wyoming is just 2-8 in the last 10 meetings with San Diego State. UW's last win over SDSU was an 85-83 home win on Jan. 9, 2010.
Wyoming returns to action at No. 23 UNLV on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. MT.