LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Mountain West's best shooters face each other on Saturday when the University of Wyoming men's basketball team visits Air Force. The Cowboys (19-4, 8-2 MW) and Falcons (10-12, 3-8 MW) both shoot 47.6 percent from the field, which ties for first in the conference and 26th in the NCAA. Air Force upset New Mexico at home on Wednesday, but Pokes head coach Larry Shyatt is 2-1 at the Academy in his second stint with Wyoming. Tip is set for noon MT in Clune Arena.
The contest will be televised by ROOT Sports (Charter: 532, DirecTV: 659) and broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network. Fans can follow live stats, audio and video of the game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on GoWYO.com. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Shyatt and Wyoming are still tied for first in the Mountain West standings at 19-4 overall and 8-2 in league play after a 59-48 Border War win on Wednesday over Colorado State at home. The Pokes never trailed in the game and led the Rams by as many as 16 en route to their first season sweep of CSU since 2008-09. The Cowboys earned a 26-15 advantage at halftime and extended it to 16 points at 44-28 midway through the second half, as the Rams couldn't find their shot to become the ninth foe UW has held below 50 points this season. CSU hit a season-low 30 percent (18-of-60) from the field and just 12 percent (3-of-25) beyond the arc, while Wyoming hit 40 percent (19-of-48) and 42 percent (8-of-19), respectively, its highest percentage from deep during MW play this season. The Pokes outrebounded the Rams, 40-39, but gave up a 26-16 advantage in points in the paint. On the season, Wyoming averages 62.7 points per game on 48 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys are tied for first in the MW and rank 26th nationally in field-goal percentage, while their 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is fourth in the MW and 42nd in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 53.6 points per game on 40 and 32 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is second in the MW and fourth in the NCAA, while its 13.5 fouls per game are first and second, respectively.
Head coach Dave Pilipovich and Air Force are ninth in the league standings at 10-12 overall and 3-8 in MW play. The Falcons started 1-7 in the conference, but have been victorious in two of their last three games, including a 53-49 home win over New Mexico on Wednesday. The Lobos led by five with just under seven minutes left, but AF battled back to take a lead with three minutes remaining and seal the game at the free throw line. Both teams shot 40 percent from the field and under 60 percent from the free throw line. The Falcons were outrebounded 33-28, but committed just eight turnovers. Overall, Air Force's 66.2 points per game are fourth in the conference, while its 48 percent from the field is tied for first and its 37 percent from deep is third. Defensively, the Falcons rank seventh in scoring defense at 63.9 points, while allowing opponents to shoot 44 and 37 percent, respectively. AF's 15.5 assists per game are first in the MW, while its 7.8 threes per game are second.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. notched double-doubles against the Rams on Wednesday, as the duo accomplished the feat for a second-straight game. A leading contender for MW Player of the Year, Nance had 19 points and 10 rebounds, as he paces the Pokes at 16.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. His 55 percent from the field ranks fifth in the MW and 34th in the NCAA. Cooke had 12 points and 11 rebounds and can shoot as well, as his 74 percent from the field paces the MW and helps him average 8.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Josh Adams contributes 11.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest. He ranks third in the MW in assists and sixth at 1.5 steals per game. Senior guard Riley Grabau posted 10 points against Colorado State, including 2-of-2 beyond the arc and 4-of-4 at the free throw line. His 94 percent at the charity stripe leads the conference and the nation. He averages 8.9 points and 2.2 assists. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. rounds out UW's probable starters at 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists. His 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the conference.
Senior guard Max Yon is Air Force's only scorer in double figures at 14.6 points per game, but he has only played in 16 games this season and came off the bench against New Mexico. He also adds 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Senior forward Mark Olesinski posted 18 points against the Lobos and averages 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds. Freshman guard Trevor Lyons contributes 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists, while senior forward Justin Hammonds adds 7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Sophomores Hayden Graham and Zach Kocur round out the Falcons' probable starters at 6.8 points per game each. Ten different Falcons have started a game this season, as Olesinski is the only AF player to have started all 22 contests.
About the Series
Wyoming owns a commanding 74-34 lead in the all-time series with Air Force, including a 31-19 mark in Colorado Springs, while Shyatt is 2-1 at AFA in his second stint with the Cowboys. In the last meeting between the two, the Pokes dropped a 55-53 game to the Falcons on Feb. 25, 2014, in Laramie. Nathan Sobey scored a team-high 18 points in that contest and had an attempt at the game-winning three with three seconds, but the shot came up short.
The Cowboys play at RV/RV San Diego State on Wednesday at 9 p.m. MT for their first back-to-back road games since the first week of January.