LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Saturday will be a rematch of last year’s dramatic semifinal in the Mountain West tournament, as the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team hosts Boise State. In that game the Cowboys (10-10, 3-4 MW) edged the Broncos (14-5, 5-1 MW) in overtime by a final tally of 71-66 to advance to the conference’s title game. Five of the last six meetings between the two have been decided by single digits, though. Tip is 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.
The UW Athletics Department is teaming with Prevent Child Abuse Wyoming for the second annual “Change for Change” campaign during Saturday’s game. Aimed at raising money for child abuse prevention in the state, PCAWY volunteers will be collecting change and donations at Arena-Auditorium’s entrances before, during and after the game. Saturday’s game sponsor Wyoming State Bank has committed to matching the first $2,500 raised by fans at the game.
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 ESPN3 video of the contest through the 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
Head coach Larry Shyatt and the Pokes dropped to sixth in the MW standings at 10-10 overall and 3-4 in the conference after a 75-69 home loss to Nevada last Wednesday. It was the Cowboys’ seventh loss by single digits this season. The Pokes would cut Nevada’s four-point lead to two three times in the final two minutes, but a Wolf Pack three with 15 seconds left put them up five and sealed the win. Wyoming shot a season-worst 33 percent (20-of-60) from the field and just 28 percent (9-of-32) from deep and 71 percent (20-of-28) at the free-throw line. The 60 field-goal attempts and 32 threes attempted were both season highs for the Pokes. Wyoming led 14-8 in assists and had just eight turnovers for its sixth game this season with less than 10 and second straight. On the season, Wyoming averages 69.3 points on 42 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep. The Cowboys rank second in the conference from three, while their 9.1 triples per game are second in the MW and 31st in the NCAA. Their 73 percent at the free-throw line is second in the league and 44th in the nation. Defensively, Wyoming allows 69.5 points on 42 and 32 percent, respectively. The Cowboys are second in the MW and 80th in the NCAA in three-point defense. Wyoming’s 17.8 fouls per game are second in the conference and 72nd nationally.
Head coach Leon Rice and Boise State were picked second in the preseason poll and that’s exactly where they find themselves at 14-5 overall and 5-1 in the conference. The Broncos lone loss in MW play was a 56-53 setback at home to San Diego State last Saturday. Boise State rebounded with a 94-69 home win over San Jose State last Wednesday. The 94 points were the most scored by the Broncos in a conference game since joining the Mountain West. BSU used a 21-5 run midway through the second half to grow a 12-point lead to 28 with under two minutes remaining. The Broncos finished plus 18 on the boards at 49-31. Overall, Boise State’s 78.1 points per game are second in the MW, as is its plus 10.8 scoring margin. The Broncos hit 46 percent from the field, good for second in the league and 85th in the NCAA, while making 33 percent beyond the arc. BSU’s 8.1 threes per game rank third in the MW, while their 11.4 turnovers are first in the conference and 53rd in the nation. Defensively, the Broncos allow 67.3 points per game for third in the conference on 44 percent from the field and 32 percent from three. Boise State allows just 32.6 rebounds per game for first in the MW. BSU’s plus 3.2 turnover margin leads the conference and ranks 33rd in the NCAA.
Each Team’s Leaders
Senior guard Josh Adams finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 23 points and nine boards against the Wolf Pack for his 14th 20-point effort this season. His 24.6 points per game are first in the MW and fifth in the NCAA, while his 2.9 threes per game rank first and 43rd, respectively. He also paces the Pokes at 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Junior guard Jason McManamen chipped in 12 points versus Nevada and now has reached double-figure points in 10 of UW’s last 11 contests. He averages 12.2 points, while his team-best 43 percent from deep and 2.4 triples per game are both third in the MW. Sophomore guard Jeremy Lieberman hauled in a career-high seven rebounds against the Wolf Pack to go with seven points. He averages 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Fellow sophomore guard Alexander Aka Gorski got the starting nod as Wyoming went with four guards. On the season, he contributes 5.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. Sophomore forward Alan Herndon was UW’s starting big man versus Nevada, as he finished with nine points and a career-high five assists. He averages 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.
The Broncos are led by two preseason All-MW picks in redshirt junior forward James Webb III and redshirt senior guard Anthony Drmic. Webb finished with 24 points and a career-high 18 rebounds against SJSU to collect his third-straight double-double. His 16.8 points per game are fifth in the MW, while his 9.3 rebounds are first in the league and 57th in the NCAA. He shoots 51 percent from the field for third in the conference. Drmic contributes 12.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but was held to just seven points against the Spartans. Junior forward Nick Duncan is right behind him at 12.2 points and 4.1 rebounds. He had a season-high 24 points against SJSU, including six threes, as his 2.2 triples per game are fifth in the MW. Redshirt senior guard Mikey Thompson adds 11.3 points per contest, while his 4.1 assists per game are third in the league and his 2.0 assist-turnover ratio is second. Redshirt senior guard Lonnie Jackson rounds out Boise State’s probable starters at 5.4 points and 1.6 rebounds.
About the Series
The Pokes lead the all-time series with the Broncos, 13-8, including an 8-3 mark in Laramie. The two squads have split the last six contests, though, with each winning three and five of the six being decided by single digits. In the last meeting between the two, Wyoming earned a 71-66 overtime win in the MW tournament semifinals on March 13, 2015. Adams and Larry Nance Jr. combined for 47 points, but it was McManamen’s banked-in three with 40 seconds left in the extra period that put the Pokes in control and advanced them to the tournament title game.
Wyoming returns to the road at Fresno State on Tuesday at 8 p.m. MT.