Jan. 22, 2013
Laramie, Wyo. -
Fresh off its second win over a ranked opponent this season, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team will look to continue that momentum in a key Mountain West-matchup at UNLV on Thursday. The Pokes (15-2, 2-2 MW) knocked off No. 15/14 San Diego State, 58-45, last Saturday at home, while the Runnin' Rebels (15-4, 2-2 MW) lost a 66-61 game at Colorado State on the same day to fall into a third-place tied in the MW standings with the Cowboys, Aztecs and Falcons. UW and UNLV are both receiving votes in Monday's national polls. Tip is set for 7:15 p.m. MT at the Thomas & Mack Center.
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 CBS Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
The Cowboys improved to 15-2 overall and 2-2 in the MW after an impressive 58-45 win over No. 15/14 San Diego State on Saturday in the Arena-Auditorium. UW's largest crowd since 2005 watched the Pokes lead wire-to-wire after amassing a 20-9 halftime lead. Wyoming stretched the lead to as many as 13 in the second half, before SDSU cut the advantage to seven with four minutes left. That would be as close as the Aztecs could get, though. SDSU's nine points in the first half were the fewest by any team in any half in MW history. The victory was UW's second over a ranked foe this season, its most since 1997-98. Wyoming's success has started with its defense this season. The Pokes ranked first in the league and fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 53.8 points per game. UW holds opponents to 38 percent from the field, ranking third in the MW, and 32 percent from three. On the offensive end, the Cowboys score 64.9 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. Wyoming's 6.9 threes per game are third in the conference. UW's plus 11.1 scoring margin is fourth in the MW and plus 2.5 turnover margin is third.
Second-year head coach Dave Rice has continued his success at UNLV in 2012-13, after guiding the Rebels to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Rice returned just two starters from that squad, but has started this season with a 15-4 overall mark and 2-2 in the league. The Rebels opened conference play with a 65-60 loss at New Mexico on Jan. 9, before earning a 76-71 overtime win at home against Air Force on Jan. 12. UNLV claimed a big 82-75 win at SDSU last Wednesday, but dropped a 66-61 game at Colorado State last Saturday in its most recent action. The Rebels are one of the more balanced teams in the MW. Offensively, they rank second in the conference in scoring offense at 76.9 points per game on 45 percent from the field and 34 percent beyond the arc. Their field goal percentage ranks third in the MW, while their 17.5 assists per game are first in the MW and sixth in the NCAA. On the defensive end, UNLV leads the league and is 22nd in the nation in field goal defense at 37 percent and second in the MW and 27th nationally in three-point defense at 29 percent. UNLV's 5.5 blocks per game lead the MW and rank 17th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Leonard Washington and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. both posted double-doubles against the Aztecs last Saturday. Washington posted 14 points and tied a career-high with 14 rebounds, while Nance had 11 and 12, respectively. Washington is 11th in the MW at 14.4 points per game, third with 9.2 rebounds and second in blocks at 2.0. Nance follows closely with 7.4 rebounds for eighth and 10.6 points. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore is UW's other scorer in double figures at 11.1 points, thanks in part to 82 percent at the free throw line for third in the MW. Gilmore shoots 39 percent from deep and his 1.9 threes per game rank sixth in the conference. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau has scored in double figures in three of the last four games to average 6.3 points and 2.5 assists per game. Freshman guard Josh Adams rounds out Wyoming's probable starters and has started UW's last eight games to average 6.6 points and 1.6 assists per game. Gilmore and Adams also reached double figures against the Aztecs with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Freshman sensation Anthony Bennett leads the way for the Rebels at 18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. The forward ranks second in the MW in points and fifth in rebounds, while his 56 percent from the field is second in the conference and 29th in the NCAA. Senior guard Anthony Marshall also scores in double figures at 10.3 points, to go with 4.1 rebounds and a league-high 5.7 assists. His plus 1.9 assist-turnover ratio is fourth in the MW. A preseason All-MW pick, junior forward Mike Moser has returned from an early-season injury to average 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds. Sophomore forward Khem Birch adds 8.8 points and 6.6 rebounds and is tied for the team-lead with 24 blocks, while freshman guard Katin Reinhardt rounds out UNLV's probable starters at 9.9 points and 2.7 assists. Marshall posted 21 points and six rebounds against CSU, while Bennett was held to nine points and six rebounds. Reinhardt scored 11.
About the Series
The Rebels own a 30-15 lead in the all-time series with Wyoming, including an 8-2 advantage in the last 10 meetings. Wyoming is just 3-20 in Las Vegas and hasn't won there since a 90-80 victory on Feb. 1, 2003. UW has lost 10-straight games at the Thomas & Mack.
Wyoming hosts Air Force on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.