Feb. 21, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team faces a tall task to get back to its winning ways, as the Cowboys square off with No. 24/25 San Diego State in Viejas Arena at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. UW (18-8, 4-6) has lost three-straight games to slip to sixth in the Mountain West standings, but are still just two games out of second. The Aztecs (20-6, 6-4) have also dropped three straight, for the first time since February of 2008, to fall in the national rankings and now need a win to keep pace with league-leading New Mexico.
Fans can follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on WyomingAthletics.com. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised on The Mtn.
A Look at the Matchup
The Pokes have dropped their last three contests to sit sixth in the MW at 4-6 in the league and 18-8 overall, but are hardly getting blown out. Wyoming led New Mexico, Air Force and Colorado State at halftime, before falling in each contest. The Cowboys were in front of the Falcons and Rams past the midpoint of the second half and were within one possession (three points) of both with 1:33 and 1:18 left, respectively. Wyoming is 5-7 in games decided by less than 10 points, including eight Mountain West games decided by the margin. New Mexico leads the MW with an 8-2 record. Wyoming's statistical numbers on the defensive end have slipped a little with the higher competition of the MW, but the Cowboys continue to keep opponents off the scoreboard. UW has held 25 of its 26 foes below their season scoring average. The Pokes were fourth in scoring defense (54.2 ppg) in the latest NCAA rankings and 42nd in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.7). Both marks rank in the top three of the Mountain West. Offensively, UW is 12th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (76.1), 25th in turnover margin (+3.1) and 41st in scoring margin (+9.1).
San Diego State looked well on its way to another dominant season in the MW, after the Aztecs climbed to as high as No. 11 in the polls, but three-straight losses have dropped SDSU to a tie for second in the conference standings at 6-4 and 20-6 overall. San Diego State's three-game losing streak is its first in 143 games, dating back to February of 2008, dropping it to No. 24 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 25 in the AP Media Poll. The Aztecs lost a 65-63 decision at No. 14/16 UNLV, a 77-67 home contest to New Mexico and most recently a 58-56 game at Air Force last Saturday. Four of SDSU's 10 MW games have been decided by two points. Overall, the Aztecs are pretty balanced from offense to defense. SDSU is fifth in the MW in scoring (70.9 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage (45.6). San Diego State's plus 8.6 scoring margin is fourth in the MW and 45th in the nation, while its plus 4.7 rebounding margin is 45th also. Defensively, the Aztecs rank fourth in the conference in scoring defense (62.3 ppg) and lead the MW in defensive rebounds at 26.5. SDSU commits 15.4 fouls per game, which is 17th nationally, and hold opponents to 39.6 percent from the field, which is second in the MW and 29th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez paces the Pokes at 12.8 points, hitting 2.8 threes per game to lead the MW and rank 19th in the NCAA, and also collects 1.8 steals per game for third in the league. Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington contributes 12.5 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds, ranking in the top seven of five different MW categories and leading the league at 57.5 percent from the field. Senior guard Francisco Cruz is UW's other scorer in double figures at 12.0 points and 2.0 assists, while senior center Adam Waddell adds 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. Cruz is eighth in the MW in minutes (31.8) and Waddell is fifth in free throw percentage (76.5) and blocks (0.9). Senior guard JayDee Luster leads the MW in assist-turnover ratio (2.3) and ranks sixth in assists (3.6). Martinez scored 15 points at Colorado State and Cruz added 10.
Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin leads the Aztecs at 16.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game to rank second and fourth in the MW in the respective categories, but missed the last game with an ankle sprain. Junior guard Chase Tapley adds 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, ranking second in the league at 43.8 percent beyond the arc, while sophomore guard Xavier Thames rounds out SDSU's double-figure scorers at 10.1 points and 4.6 assists. Thames' assists rank third in the MW and his 1.6 assist-turnover ratio is fifth. Junior guard James Rahon adds 9.2 points and 2.9 rebounds, while senior forward Tim Shelton rounds out the probable Aztec starters at 5.0 points and 4.9 rebounds. Shelton notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds against Air Force and Tapley scored 17 points.
About the Series
Wednesday will the 71st all-time meeting between the Pokes and Aztecs. Wyoming leads the all-time series, 37-33, but is 3-7 in its last 10 meetings with San Diego State, including a four-game losing streak. The Cowboys are 11-20 in San Diego. In the last matchup between the two, SDSU earned a 52-42 win on Jan. 24 in Laramie. Wyoming trailed by just three at halftime, but the Aztecs opened the second half with a 16-4 run.
Wyoming hosts Boise State on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.