Jan. 25, 2013
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team is right back to action on Saturday when the Pokes host Air Force at 8 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (15-3, 2-3 MW) are coming off a 62-50 loss at UNLV on Thursday night, while the Falcons (11-6, 2-2 MW) won a 90-48 home game over New Orleans in non-conference action on Wednesday. Saturday's matchup features one of the top offenses in the conference in Air Force, while Wyoming continues to play solid on the defensive end.
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 video of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The live video is subject to blackout in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, Nebraska, South Dakota, Nevada and Idaho. The contest will also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by ROOT Sports.
A Look at the Matchup
The Cowboys fell to 15-3 overall and 2-3 in the MW after a 62-50 loss at UNLV on Thursday and currently sit seventh in the conference standings. Wyoming trailed by just four at halftime, 29-25, but the Rebels used a 16-4 run early in the second half to pull away for the win. The Pokes were outscored in the second half for just the season time this season, but continued to protect the ball with just seven turnovers. UW's three threes, seven free throws made and 11 free throws attempted were all season lows. Wyoming's success this season has started with its defense this season, though. The Pokes rank first in the league and fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 54.3 points per game. UW holds opponents to 39 percent from the field, ranking fourth in the MW, and 33 percent from three. On the offensive end, the Cowboys score 64.1 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. The Pokes rank eighth in the MW in scoring offense and have scored 50 or less in two conference games. Wyoming's 6.7 threes per game are third in the conference. UW's plus 2.8 turnover margin is second.
Dave Pilipovich enters his first full season at the helm for Air Force and has the Falcons playing well. Air Force is 11-6 on the season and 2-2 in the MW for a fourth-place tie in the standings. The Falcons started MW play with a 78-65 win over Nevada, before falling in overtime, 76-71, at UNLV. AFA followed with a 79-40 loss at Colorado State, but rebounded with a 91-80 home win over Boise State last Saturday. In their most recent action, the Falcons earned a 90-48 home win over New Orleans on Wednesday, as they topped the 90-point mark in two-straight games for first time since 1998-99. Air Force led 43-30 at halftime and shot 64 percent from the field, its best mark since Jan. 19, 2006. The Falcon offense ranks third in the MW in scoring at 74 points per game, first in field goal percentage at 48, second in three-point percentage at 40 and second in threes per game with 8.4. They rank in the top 19 in the NCAA in the last three stats, including 11th in three-point percentage. Defensively, the Falcons allow 67 points per game for eighth in the MW by allowing a league-worst 44 percent from the field to opponents. AFA's plus 3.6 turnover margin leads the MW.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Leonard Washington and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. reached double figures for the second-straight game on Thursday at UNLV with 13 and 16 points, respectively. Washington also tied a career-high with four blocks and Nance added a career-high five steals. Washington averages 14.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, while Nance contributes 10.9 points and 7.2 rebounds to rank one and two on the team. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore also scores in double figures at 10.8 points per game, including ranking third in the MW in free throw percentage at 82. His 1.9 threes per game are sixth in the league. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau averages 6.1 points and 2.5 assists per game, as he has scored in double figures in three of the last five games. Freshman guard Josh Adams rounds out Wyoming's probable starters, averaging 6.6 points and 1.6 assists per game.
Senior guard Michael Lyons leads the Falcons with team-highs of 18.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He ranks first in the MW and 33rd in the nation in scoring, while his 46 percent from the field is seventh in the conference. Senior forward Mike Fitzgerald is the only other Falcon to score in double figures at 10.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, thanks in part to 84 percent at the free throw line. Senior guard Todd Fletcher runs the point for AFA with a team-high 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals to go with 9.6 points. He leads the MW and ranks sixth in the nation in assist-turnover ratio at plus 3.3. Senior center Taylor Broekhuis adds 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. His ranks sixth in the league in blocks. Those four have started all 17 of AFA's games this season, while sophomore forward DeLovell Earls made his eighth start of the season on Wednesday against New Orleans. Earls averages 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds. Four Falcons scored in double figures against New Orleans, including a game-high 16 by Fitzgerald.
About the Series
The Pokes own a commanding 73-31 lead in the all-time series, but the two teams have split the last 10 meetings with five wins each. Wyoming is 38-12 against Air Force in Laramie, but the Falcons earned a 58-53 win in their last trip to the Double A on Feb. 15, 2012.
Wyoming hosts No. 15/17 New Mexico on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Double A.