Feb. 7, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
After missing the last two games due to an illness, head coach Larry Shyatt will return to coach the University of Wyoming men's basketball team at UNLV on Saturday. The Cowboys (14-8, 5-4 MW) are coming off a dramatic 66-61 overtime loss to New Mexico in The Pit on Wednesday, while the Rebels (15-8, 6-4 MW) suffered a 75-57 defeat at Colorado State on Wednesday in their last outing. Saturday's tip is set for 8 p.m. MT in the Thomas & Mack Center.
Fans can follow live coverage of the game, including live video from ESPN3, 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.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming sits fifth in the Mountain West standings at 5-4 in the conference and 14-8 overall after a 66-61 overtime loss at New Mexico last Wednesday. The Cowboys and Lobos went to an extra period for the second time this season, as seven of UW's nine league games have been decided by single digits. Neither Wyoming or New Mexico led by more than four in regulation, as the Lobos used four free throws to go ahead 63-59 with 2:35 left in overtime. The Cowboys made a layup with 39 seconds remaining to pull the Pokes within two, but the Lobos made two free throws with 19 seconds left and UW missed a three to let the Lobos escape with the victory. The game featured 23 lead changes and nine ties. Wyoming shot 44 percent (24-of-54) from the field and 36 percent (7-of-19) from deep, while UNM hit 42 percent (23-of-54) and 10 percent (1-of-10), respectively. One three was a season low for a Cowboy opponent, but the Lobos led 43-22 in rebounds for a 17-2 margin in second-chance points. Wyoming earned a 16-10 advantage in assists and 8-4 in assists. For the season, Wyoming's 49 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 14th in the nation, while its 38 percent from deep is third and 66.7 points per game are 10th. UW's 73 percent at the free throw line is third. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW and 16th 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 Dave Rice and UNLV enter the weekend fourth in the MW standings at 6-4 in conference play and 15-8 overall. Most recently, the Rebels had a four-game winning streak broken by a 75-57 loss at Colorado State last Wednesday. The Rams led by 13 at halftime and extended the advantage to as many as 21 midway through the second half. UNLV shot just 36 percent (21-of-59) from the field and 32 percent (7-of-22) from deep, while connecting on 50 percent (8-of-16) at the free throw line. CSU earned a 37-36 advantage on the boards, 18-12 in assists and 13-6 in points off turnovers. On the season, UNLV's offense averages 72.1 points for seventh in the MW. The Rebels' 44 percent from the field is eighth and 32 percent from deep is 10th. Defensively, UNLV allows 64.6 points for third in the conference, while opponents shoot 39 percent from the field and 28 percent beyond the arc against the Rebels. Those marks rank second and first in the MW, respectively. UNLV's three-point percentage defense ranks fourth in the NCAA, while its 6.6 blocks are first in the MW and seventh in the nation.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior guard Riley Grabau led the way for Wyoming at New Mexico with 12 points on four threes. He has hit 11 of his last 16 three-point attempts over the last three games to average 11.1 points and 2.1 assists per game. His 92 percent at the free throw line leads the MW and is eighth in the NCAA. Junior forward Larry Nance Jr., senior guard Nathan Sobey and redshirt junior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. each added 10 points against the Lobos. Nance averages a team-high 16.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest. He ranks eighth in the MW in points and fifth in rebounds, while his 54 percent from the field is second. Sobey contributes 7.5 points and 2.9 rebounds, while Hankerson was filling in for suspended sophomore guard Josh Adams. Adams will return to Wyoming's starting lineup on Saturday with his 12.1 points and team-high 2.9 assists per game. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. rounds out Wyoming's probable starters at 5.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest.
Junior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones' 13.8 points pace UNLV, while his team-high 3.2 assists per game are eighth in the MW. Junior forward Khem Birch was named to the preseason All-MW team and nearly averages a double-double at 11.5 points and 9.6 rebounds. His 3.7 blocks per game lead the league and rank second in the nation. Junior forward Roscoe Smith does average a double-double at 11.4 points and 11.7 rebounds. Smith and Birch rank first and fourth, respectively, in the MW in boards. Senior guard Kevin Olekaibe, a transfer from Fresno State, contributes 10.1 points per game, thanks in part to 2.3 treys per game for sixth in the MW. Junior guard Deville Smith rounds out UNLV's probable starters at 8.5 points and 2.3 assists.
About the Series
UNLV leads the all-time series with Wyoming, 32-15, including a 21-3 advantage in Las Vegas. The Cowboys are 2-8 in their last 10 meetings with the Rebels, and have not won in the Thomas & Mack since 2003. The last meeting between the two, UNLV earned a 65-42 home win over Wyoming on Feb. 2, 2013.
Wyoming returns home to host No. 5 San Diego State on Tuesday at 9 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com.