Feb. 3, 2012
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team welcomes another ranked foe to the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday, when No. 11/13 UNLV visits Laramie for a 2 p.m. Mountain West showdown. The Cowboys (17-5, 3-3) look to defend a 12-2 mark in the Double A this season, while the league-leading Runnin' Rebels (21-3, 5-1) have gone to overtime in their last two conference road games. The UW Athletic Department is encouraging fans to support the Cowboys upset bid with the "Quest for 10,000." Wyoming will attempt to break the 10,000 attendance mark for the first time since 2005.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at WyomingAthletics.com. Fans can also follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's games, as well as live video of the postgame press conference, through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised on The Mtn.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is coming off a 58-52 road loss at TCU on Wednesday, which snapped UW's four-game road winning streak. The Cowboys went back and forth with the Horned Frogs all night and were within two possessions late in the game, but ultimately couldn't make shots down the stretch. The loss dropped the Pokes to 3-3 in league play and into a three-way tie for fourth place in the MW standings with Colorado State and TCU. UW is 17-5 overall, including a 12-2 mark at home. The Cowboys have slipped in the national rankings in several defensive categories, but continue to hold opponents under 60 points. Only three UW foes have topped the mark this season. Wyoming was fourth in scoring defense (53.6 ppg) in the latest NCAA rankings, 28th in field goal percentage defense (39.3) and 34th in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.2). Two of the three marks led the MW at the time. Offensively, UW ranked 11th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (76.2), 22nd in turnover margin (+3.5) and 53rd in field goal percentage (47.0).
Picked to finish second in the preseason media poll, UNLV has lived up to the expectations and more. The Rebels enter Saturday tied atop the MW standings with San Diego State at 5-1 and have a five-game winning streak. First-year head coach Dave Rice has UNLV at 21-3 overall and ranked No. 11/13 in the latest polls. UNLV has gone to overtime in its last two conference road games, though. The Rebels' latest victory was an 82-63 home win over Colorado State on Wednesday. The Rams were within two of UNLV after starting the second half on an 11-0 run, but the Rebels responded with a 15-4 spurt that put the game out of reach. UNLV is an athletic squad that has some offensive firepower. The Rebels lead the MW in nine categories and rank in the top two in 12. Their 80.6 points per game are ninth in the NCAA, 18.6 assists per game are fourth, 8.7 threes per game are 11th and plus 15.0 scoring margin is 12th. All four marks lead the MW. Defensively, UNLV paces the league in blocks (5.1), steals (8.7) and assist-turnover ratio (1.3).
Each Team's Leaders
Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington has been a force to be dealt with during the conference season. He leads the league in scoring during MW games at 17.2 points per game and is averaging a team-high 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds for the season. He ranks in the top eight in six different MW categories, including leading the league in field goal percentage at 62.4. UW's strength has been balance, though. Redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez is right behind him at 13.0 points per game and ranks second in the MW in steals at 1.8. Senior guard Francisco Cruz also averages in double figures at 12.0 points to go with 2.0 assists, while senior center Adam Waddell contributes 9.5 points and a team-high 76.7 percent from the free throw line. Senior guard JayDee Luster continues to rank highly in the nation in assist-turnover ratio, but has also played some lock-down defense lately.
Senior guards Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback were named to the preseason all-MW team, but sophomore forward Mike Moser has taken the league by storm this season. Moser averages 14.7 points and 11.6 rebounds thanks to 12 double-doubles this season. He leads the league in rebounds per game and is third nationally, while also ranking fourth in the MW in points per game. Stanback adds 14.2 points and 4.7 rebounds and shoots 44.9 percent beyond the arc to rank 11th in the nation from deep. Bellfield leads the MW at 5.2 assists to go with 9.7 points, while junior guard Anthony Marshall adds 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds. Senior forward/center Brice Massamba rounds out UNLV's probable starters at 5.5 points.
About the Series
The Pokes trail in the all-time series with UNLV, 14-28, and are just 2-8 in their last 10 meetings with the Rebels. UW does hold an 11-8 record against UNLV in Laramie and head coach Larry Shyatt is 1-1 against the Rebels. The last meeting between the two programs was a 90-77 UNLV win on Feb. 26, 2011, in Las Vegas, while UW's last victory against the Rebels was a 77-68 home contest on Feb. 18, 2009.
Wyoming has a full week off after facing UNLV. The Cowboys don't hit the hardwood again until facing New Mexico on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Albuquerque.