Pokes Play Host to Wolf Pack in Another Pivotal MW Game

Jan. 29, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

Gameday Central | Game Notes   Get Acrobat Reader

With the midpoint of the conference season approaching every game is crucial for the University of Wyoming men's basketball team. The Cowboys (17-4, 6-2 MW) are tied atop the Mountain West with San Diego State, as five other teams sit just one game behind them, and now host Nevada (6-13, 2-5 MW) on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes split their two meetings with the Wolf Pack last season, including one overtime contest.

The UW Athletics Department is teaming with Prevent Child Abuse Wyoming for a "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 at the Portal Two and Fieldhouse entrances before, during and after the game. PCAWY is a program of the Wyoming Citizen Review Panel, a non-profit focused on the safety, permanency and well-being of Wyoming children and families.

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 be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by ROOT Sports. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.

A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is 17-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play after dropping just its second MW game of the season on Tuesday, a 56-44 loss at Utah State. The Cowboys trailed by three at halftime and double digits early in the second half as the Aggies led by as many as 14 to snap UW's four-game road winning streak. Wyoming shot just 36 percent (18-of-50) from the field, its second-lowest showing this season, and 30 percent (7-of-23) beyond the arc. The Pokes made just one free throw and attempted three, both season lows. The Aggies (12-8, 5-3 MW) hit 48 percent (24-of-50) from the field and 36 percent (5-of-14) from deep, while outrebounding the Cowboys 32-28 and earning a 30-18 advantage in points in the paint. On the season, Wyoming averages 62.8 points per game on 49 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys rank first in the MW and 22nd nationally in field-goal percentage, while their 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the MW and 36th in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 53.8 points per game on 40 and 34 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is second in the MW and fourth in the NCAA, while its 13.3 fouls per game are first and second, respectively.

Nevada and head coach David Carter enter the weekend ninth in the MW at 6-13 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The Wolf Pack has lost its last five games, but three have been by single digits. Most recently, Nevada dropped a 67-62 home game to UNLV on Tuesday. The Wolf Pack led 56-55 with just over three minutes left, but the Rebels hit a layup and a three to spark a 10-2 run and pulled away down the stretch. Nevada shot 36 percent (20-of-56) from the floor and 42 percent (5-of-12) beyond the arc, while holding a 41-35 advantage in rebounds. UNLV outscored the Wolf Pack, 36-26, in the paint, though. Overall, Nevada averages 62.2 points for 10th in the MW in scoring offense on 38 percent from the floor and 25 percent from deep. The Wolf Pack defense allows 66.2 points for 10th in scoring defense on 40 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Nevada owns a plus-5.8 rebounding margin, second in the league, but a minus-3.8 turnover margin for 11th in the MW.

Each Team's Leaders
Senior guard Riley Grabau paced Wyoming at Utah State with 16 points, as he tied a career high with five triples. He averages 8.4 points and 2.2 assists, while his 93 percent from the free throw line this season ranks first in the MW and second in the NCAA. Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. had 14 points against the Aggies to score in double figures for a ninth-straight contest. A candidate for MW Player of the Year, he averages 16.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, while his 56 percent from the field is 26th in the nation. Junior guard Josh Adams averages in double figures as well at 11.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He is second in the MW in assists and eighth in steals at 1.5 per game. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. contributes 7.8 points and 5.0 rebounds, thanks in part to a league-leading 73 percent from the field. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. adds 7.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists, as he ranks second in the MW in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.1.

Junior forward AJ West leads Nevada at 12.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. He notched his eighth double-double of the season against UNLV with 15 points and 15 rebounds, as he ranks 12th in the MW in scoring, but first in rebounds and first in offensive rebounds at 6.1 per game. Junior guard Marqueze Coleman adds 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-high 2.3 assists. Freshman guard Eric Cooper Jr. had a game-high 16 points versus the Rebels, and junior guard Tyron Criswell added 15, but both were making just their second start of the season. Cooper averages 5.5 points and Criswell 7.9. Sophomore forward Kaileb Rodriguez rounds out Nevada's probable starters at 1.4 points and 2.0 rebounds. A total of 10 different Wolf Pack players have made at least one start this season.

About the Series
Wyoming leads the all-time series with Nevada, 11-2, including a 6-1 mark in Laramie. The programs split their two meetings last season, but the Pokes earned a 64-62 overtime victory in the last meeting between the squads on Jan. 25, 2014, in Laramie. Nance hit a jumper with three seconds left to give UW the victory and a four-game winning streak in the MW, as he finished with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Up Next
The 223rd Border War with Colorado State will be on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT in Laramie.