Pokes Seek Payback Against Visiting Wolf Pack on Saturday

Jan. 24, 2014


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The University of Wyoming men's basketball team will look for a measure of revenge on Saturday, as the Cowboys host Nevada in the Arena-Auditorium at 2 p.m. MT. The Pokes (12-6, 3-2 MW) have won three-straight Mountain West games for the first time since 2009, but the Wolf Pack (10-9, 5-1 MW) claimed a dramatic 61-58 victory over Wyoming in Reno earlier this month. The two teams are currently second and fourth in the league standings.

Both coaching staffs will wear sneakers for the game as part of Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend, which highlights the fight against cancer. Official game T-shirts are available for purchase at Brown `N Gold Outlet for $10 and all proceeds will be donated to Laramie Relay for Life. A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society and Jimmy V Foundation. 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 won its third-straight Mountain West contest with a 66-59 victory at Air Force last Wednesday to move to 3-2 in the conference and 12-6 overall for fourth in the league standings. The win improved the Pokes to 7-0 this season when holding opponents under 60 points. Against the Falcons, the Cowboys trailed by 15 points in the first half and 11 early in the second half, before taking a lead with just over three minutes left in the game and holding on to overcome their largest deficit this season. Behind the instruction of assistant coach Allen Edwards, who served as interim head coach due to Larry Shyatt being ill, the Pokes hung tough in the second half and crafted an 11-2 run with just under four minutes left to take a 56-54 lead. The Falcons responded with a three to retake the lead, but it would be their last field goal of the game. The Cowboys got six consecutive points to take a 64-59 lead with 19 seconds left. AF had two three attempts to cut the deficit, but UW pulled down a rebound and hit two free throws with four seconds left to ice the game. For the season, Wyoming's 48.9 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 17th in the nation, while its 36.6 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 60.6 points per game and second in the league in field goal percentage defense at 39.5. UW's 31.4 three-point defense is fourth.

Head coach David Carter and Nevada have been the surprise of the MW this season and enter the weekend tied for second in the league standings at 10-9 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The Wolf Pack is an impressive 3-0 on the road in MW play, including a 96-86 double-overtime win at Fresno State last Wednesday. After being deadlocked at 37 at halftime, 76 after regulation and 82 after the first overtime, Nevada opened the second extra period with a 9-0 run to claim the victory. It was the third overtime game in the last four meetings between the two programs, as the road team won each time. On the season, Nevada's 74.7 points per game rank fourth in the MW, while the Wolf Pack shoots 44 percent from the field for sixth and 33 percent from deep for eighth. Defensively, Nevada is last in the MW in scoring defense (75.5), field goal percentage defense (44.7) and 10th in three-point defense (35.3).

Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. posted 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks at Air Force to fall a rebound shy of his third-straight double-double. His 16.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game pace the Pokes and rank ninth and fifth, respectively, in the MW. He also shoots 55 percent from the field for second in the MW and 42nd in the nation. Sophomore guard Josh Adams has scored in double figures in seven of Wyoming's last eight games, including 17 points against the Falcons. He averages 11.9 points and a team-high 2.6 assists per game. Junior guard Riley Grabau was leading the nation beyond the arc a week ago, but has missed his last 12 three-point attempts. He still leads the league and ranks 12th in the nation at 90.2 percent at the free-throw line with 22-straight makes. He averages 10.6 points per game. Senior guard Nathan Sobey has four-straight games in double figure points and averages 7.8 points and 2.7 rebounds. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 5.9 rebounds are second on the team and he adds 4.9 points per game.

Senior guard Deonte Burton was a preseason All-MW selection and has lived up to the billing. The senior guard's 21.5 points per game lead the MW and rank 15th in the country, as posted a career-high 32 points at Fresno State. He leads the MW and is third in the NCAA in minutes at 39.1 per game, while his 3.9 assists rank fourth in the conference. Fellow senior guard Jerry Evans Jr. scores 13.2 per game, including 15 points at Fresno, and adds 6.4 rebounds, while junior guard Michael Perez contributes 12.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. Sophomore forward Cole Huff rounds out Nevada's four scorers in double figures at 11.6 points, including 31 points against the Bulldogs, and 5.6 rebounds per game. Junior forward AJ West was declared eligible at the start of the semester and averages a team-high 7.6 rebounds to go with 8.4 points. He grabbed 13 boards against Fresno State and has 23 blocks in eight games this season.

About the Series
Wyoming leads the all-time series with Nevada, 10-2, but lost a 61-58 contest in Reno earlier this season to break a nine-game winning streak against the Wolf Pack. The Pokes led 58-56 with 1:31 left in the game, but the Wolf Pack pulled back in front 59-58 with 32 seconds to go. UW ran the clock down to two seconds and Nance had a look at a jumper, but it went long and Nevada hit two free throws to ice the game. The Cowboys are 5-1 in Laramie against Nevada.

Up Next
Wyoming returns to the road at Fresno State on Wednesday at 8 p.m. MT.