Jan. 30, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Fans are encouraged to don their gameday gold to help the University of Wyoming men's basketball team gold out Utah State on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (13-7, 4-3 MW) had their four-game winning streak snapped at Fresno State on Wednesday, while the Aggies (12-8, 2-6 MW) visit Laramie for the first time as a member of the Mountain West. UW will host a free Cowboy Roundup pregame event from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the UniWyo Sports Complex.
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 and televised by ROOT Sports. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming had its four-game Mountain West winning streak snapped with a 67-62 loss at Fresno State last Wednesday to move to 4-3 in the conference and 13-7 overall for sixth in the league standings. The Cowboys' four-straight MW wins were their longest since February of 2009 and just two shy of their longest ever in the conference. Against the Bulldogs, the Cowboys trailed by 11 points early in the second half, but a switch to a zone defense sparked a 16-3 run that put Wyoming up 44-42 with just over 12 minutes left. Fresno State went back in front to hold a slim advantage down the stretch, but the Cowboys hit two free throws with 55 seconds left to pull within four at 63-59. The Bulldogs missed a jumper on their ensuing possession, but got the offensive putback to go up by six with 22 seconds to go. A three with seven seconds left kept hope alive for the Pokes, but FSU made two free throws to ice the game. The Cowboys snapped a string of three-straight games shooting over 50 percent from the field by hitting 48 percent (23-of-48) against Fresno State. Wyoming made 47 percent (7-of-15) beyond the arc, though, but only managed a season-low 53 percent (9-of-17) at the free throw line. The Bulldogs hit 53 percent (24-of-45) from the field for UW's second opponent this season to shoot over 50 percent. For the season, Wyoming's 49 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 12th in the nation, while its 37 percent from deep is fifth and 66.7 points per game are 11th. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW and 15th in the NCAA in scoring defense at 61.0 points per game and fourth in the league in field goal percentage defense at 40 percent. UW's 32 percent three-point defense is fourth.
Head coach Stew Morrill and Utah State have started their first season in the Mountain West with a 2-6 record in the conference and 12-8 overall for ninth in the league standings. The Aggies are 0-4 away from Logan in MW play, though, and have lost four-straight games. Most recently, Utah State dropped a 78-65 game at New Mexico last Tuesday. The Aggies were down by double digits early in the second half, before closing the gap to 54-52 with 7:43 to go. The Lobos closed the game on a 24-13 run, though, to pull away for the win. Utah State shot 43 percent (23-of-54) from the field, making half of its three-pointers (6-of-12) and 87 percent (13-of-15) of its free throws, the Aggies' second-highest percentage of the season. On the season, Utah State scores 71.8 points per game for eighth in the MW, as the Aggies shoot 47 percent from the field and 42 percent from deep to rank third and first, respectively, in the conference. The Aggies are sixth in the NCAA in three-point percentage, while leading the MW and ranking eighth in the nation at 17.4 assists per game. Defensively, the Aggies' 65.9 points allowed per game are fourth in the MW, while they allow opponents to shoot 42 percent from the field for fifth and 31 percent from deep for third. USU's plus 6.7 rebounding margin and plus 1.5 assist to turnover margin both lead the MW.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr., the reigning MW Player of the Week, posted 20 points, five rebounds and a block at Fresno State last Wednesday for his fifth contest with 20 or more this season. Nance averages 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game to lead the Cowboys and rank ninth and fourth, respectively, in the conference. His 56 percent from the field is second in the MW and 37th in the nation. Junior guard Riley Grabau knocked home four treys against the Bulldogs, his most since Jan. 8, and extended his free-throw streak to 25-consecutive makes. He averages 10.9 points and 2.1 assists. Sophomore guard Josh Adams' 11.8 points are second on the team, while he leads the Pokes at 2.7 assists per game. Adams and senior guard Nathan Sobey have shown a great skill for attacking the basket over the last 10 games. Sobey averages 7.8 points, but has scored in double figures in four of UW's last six contests. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. contributes 4.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Senior center Jarred Shaw posted 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks against New Mexico, as he leads the Aggies at 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He ranks 12th in the MW in points, ninth in rebounds and fourth in field goal percentage at 49 percent. Senior guard Preston Medlin added 13 points and nine assists versus the Lobos to reach his average of 13.1 points per game, while his 4.4 assists per game are second in the MW. Senior guard Spencer Butterfield contributes 13.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game to round out USU's double-figure scorers. Senior guard TeNale Roland leads the MW and ranks eighth in the nation with a 3.6 assist to turnover ratio, while freshman forward Jalen Moore is USU's other probable starter at 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
About the Series
The Pokes lead the all-time series against the Aggies, 44-23, including a 26-6 mark in Laramie. Wyoming is 6-4 in its last 10 meetings with Utah State, but the last was a 90-85 overtime loss on Dec. 31, 2008, in Logan. The Pokes hit a three at the buzzer to send the game to overtime tied at 76, but the Aggies notched four free throws in the final 35 seconds of the extra period to take the game. Five Cowboys scored in double figures, led by Tyson Johnson with 24 and Brandon Ewing with 20.
Wyoming starts a two-game roadtrip at New Mexico on Feb. 5 at 9 p.m. MT.