Feb. 10, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The last time a top-five opponent visited the Arena-Auditorium, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team crafted a 62-56 upset of fifth-ranked Utah on Feb. 12, 1998. The Cowboys will seek the same result when No. 5 San Diego State visits Laramie on Tuesday. The Pokes (14-9, 5-5 MW) and Aztecs (21-1, 10-0 MW) promises to be another close contest for Wyoming, as the two squads feature the top two defenses in the Mountain West. The game, which tips at 9 p.m. MT, has been designated a white out and the first 3,000 fans will receive an official T-shirt.
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 nationally televised by ESPNU. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming sits fifth in the Mountain West standings at 5-5 in the conference and 14-9 overall after a 48-46 loss at UNLV last Saturday. The Pokes have had 13 games decided by eight points or less this season, including five conference games by a single basket. The Rebels led by two at halftime on Saturday and stretched the lead to as many as seven points with seven minutes left in the game. As they have done all season, the Pokes kept fighting to the end, though. Wyoming hit a three with 1:05 left to pull within two and came up with a steal on the defensive end to give the Cowboys a chance to tie the game. After a timeout, UW put up a jumper that ran around the back of the rim and out. The Pokes got the offensive rebound, but were unable to get a shot off as time expired. For the season, Wyoming's 49 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 13th in the nation, while its 38 percent from deep is third and 65.8 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 14th in the NCAA in scoring defense at 60.4 points per game and fourth in the league in field goal percentage defense at 40 percent. UW's 32 percent three-point defense is third in the conference and 51st in the nation.
Head coach Steve Fisher and San Diego State were picked fourth in the MW preseason poll, but enter Tuesday leading the conference with a perfect 10-0 mark in league play and 21-1 overall record. The Aztecs are ranked fifth in both national polls with a 20-game winning streak that is tied for the longest in school history and is the third longest currently in the nation. Most recently, SDSU earned a 73-58 home win over Nevada last Saturday. The Aztecs closed the first half on a 7-0 run to go into halftime up 37-31 and pulled away in the second half. The Wolf Pack closed to 61-52 on a layup and three-pointer, but the Aztecs quickly pushed the lead back to 15. SDSU shot 52 percent (25-of-48) from the field and earned a 40-22 advantage in points in the paint. The Aztecs converted 12 Nevada turnovers into 21 points. On the season, SDSU scores 73.4 points per game for fifth in the conference. The Aztecs are sixth in field goal percentage at 44 percent and fourth from beyond the arc and 36 percent. Defensively, the Aztecs lead the MW and rank third in the NCAA in scoring defense at 56.6 points per game. SDSU allows opponents 37 percent from the field for first in the MW and third in the NCAA, while its three-point defense is second in the MW and seventh in the nation at 28 percent. The Aztecs have a plus 4.1 turnover margin to lead the conference and place 10th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. tweaked his groin during the first half of Saturday's game at UNLV, but will still able to finish with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He leads the Pokes at 15.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, while ranking 10th in the MW in points and fifth in rebounds. His 54 percent from the field is second. Junior guard Riley Grabau added 11 points against the Rebels, thanks in part to three treys. He has hit 14 threes over the last four games to average 11.1 points and 2.0 assists per game. He is shooting 92 percent at the free throw line. Sophomore guard Josh Adams and senior guard Nathan Sobey have gotten to the rim during MW play. Adams averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 3.0 assists, while Sobey contributes 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 5.8 rebounds are second on the team and he adds 5.3 points per contest.
All-America candidate Xavier Thames posted 17 points and five assists against Nevada, as his 18.1 points rank third in the MW. The senior guard is averaging over 21 points during conference play. He also paces the Aztecs at 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Sophomore forward Winston Shepard is SDSU's only other scorer in double figures at 12.9 per game to go with 5.0 rebounds. He scored 16 points versus Nevada. Senior forward Josh Davis grabs 11.0 boards to rank second in the MW and seventh in the country, while adding 9.0 points per game. He was named the preseason MW Newcomer of the Year. Sophomore forward Skylar Spencer's 2.6 blocks per game are third in the league, as he adds 4.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. Junior forward JJ O'Brien rounds out SDSU's probable starters at 8.5 points and 5.5 boards per game.
About the Series
The Cowboys own a slim, 38-35 advantage in the all-time series with San Diego State, but are just 3-7 in their last 10 meetings. The Aztecs are 8-25 all-time in Laramie, including a 58-45 loss on Jan. 19, 2013, in their last trip to Wyoming. SDSU was ranked No. 15/14 in the nation at the time, but scored just nine points in the first half, a MW record for any half. In the last meeting between the two, the Aztecs won 79-51 in San Diego on Feb. 19, 2013.
Wyoming travels west on Saturday to face San Jose State at 3 p.m. MT.