LARAMIE, Wyo. -
A bit of history will be made on Wednesday when the University of Wyoming men's basketball team hosts Fresno State, as the contest will be the 500th Cowboy game in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (21-6, 10-4 MW) own a 372-127 all-time record in the building and look to secure another victory on Wednesday against the Bulldogs (12-15, 7-7 MW) to keep pace in a tight Mountain West race. Wyoming is tied for second in the conference standings with Boise State, but may get senior forward Larry Nance Jr. back from mononucleosis.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com. The contest will be televised by CBS Sports Network (Charter: 634, DirecTV: 221) and broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network. Fans can follow live stats and audio 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
Head coach Larry Shyatt and Wyoming are tied for second in the conference standings at 21-6 overall and 10-4 in league play after last weekend's bye. Previously, the Cowboys earned a 64-58 come-from-behind win at Nevada on Feb. 17. The Pokes trailed by 13 points with 12:30 left, but outscored the Wolf Pack 36-17 the rest of the game to claim their 10th MW win, the most since a program-best 11 in 2001-02. Nevada led by 15 points in the first half and 14 at halftime, as Wyoming managed just 13 points in the first half, its fewest in any half this season. Wyoming shot 45 percent (22-of-49) from the field for the game, but just 26 percent (6-of-23) in the first half to 62 percent (16-of-26) in the second half. Likewise from beyond the arc, 8 percent (1-of-12) in the first half and 63 percent (5-of-8) in the second. The Pokes didn't hit any of their five three throws in the opening half, but went 14-of-20 after halftime. Wyoming's 51 points in the second half were the most since scoring 53 against Nevada in the MW tournament during the 2012-13 season. On the season, Wyoming averages 62.0 points per game on 47 percent from the field and 31 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys are second in the MW and 44th nationally in field-goal percentage. Defensively, the Pokes allow 55.2 points per game on 40 and 34 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is second in the MW and sixth in the NCAA, while its 13.6 fouls per game are first in the conference and third in the nation.
Head coach Rodney Terry and Fresno State are 3-5 since a loss to Wyoming at Jan. 17 in Fresno, Calif. The Bulldogs are sixth in the MW standings at 7-7 in league play and 12-15 overall, but Fresno State's last two defeats have come by single digits. Most recently, Fresno State lost 85-79 at Utah State on Saturday. The Aggies built a 12-point lead in the second half, before a late Bulldog rally cut the deficit to 78-75 with 1:20 play. USU was able to fend off the Bulldogs' comeback with a game-sealing three on the next possession. Fresno State shot 49 percent (29-of-57) from the field, as both teams grabbed 29 rebounds. Overall, the Bulldogs average 66.1 points per game for fifth in the league on 43 percent from the field and 31 percent beyond the arc. Defensively, Fresno State is 10th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 66.7 points per game. Fresno State's opponents shoot 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from deep. The Bulldogs are second in the league with a plus-2.5 turnover margin, but ninth in rebounding margin at minus 3.3. Fresno State's 8.2 steals per game are 19th in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior guard Josh Adams spearheaded Wyoming's comeback at Nevada with 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals. He averages 11.9 points and 3.6 assists per game, but has scored in double figures in 11 of the 12 games Nance has missed over the last three seasons, including five 20-point efforts. He ranks third in the MW in assists and sixth in steals at 1.5. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. added 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks to reach double-figure points for the fifth time in the last six games. He contributes 8.5 points and 5.7 rebounds, as his 75 percent from the field leads the MW. Senior guard Riley Grabau leads the conference and the NCAA with 95 percent at the free throw line, while averaging 8.7 points and 2.3 assists. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. went 2-of-2 from deep against Nevada and adds 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest. Redshirt freshman Alan Herndon has started the last two games in place of Nance and averages 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds.
Fresno State junior guard Marvelle Harris is one of the top scorers in the MW, as he leads the Bulldogs and ranks third in the league at 17.2 points per game. He also paces the conference at 2.2 steals per game, while ranking second with 3.7 assists and 13th at 5.2 rebounds. He had 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists versus Utah State. Sophomore guard Paul Watson and redshirt junior guard Julien Lewis both average 11 points per game. Lewis had a game-high 21 points against the Aggies and Watson added 12. Junior Cezar Guerrero has averaged 11.8 points in 10 games this season after sitting out the first semester, while sophomore forward Karachi Edo rounds out the Bulldog probable starters at 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Ten different Bulldogs have started at least one game this season, as Watson is the only to start all 27 games.
About the Series
Wyoming trails in the all-time series with Fresno State, 9-11, but is 8-1 in Laramie. The Pokes have won three of the last four contests, including a 70-65 triple-overtime victory in Fresno, on Jan. 17 in the last meeting. Neither team led by more than two possessions, as the Pokes and Bulldogs battled through 15 lead changes and 11 ties. Nance finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, but it was Hankerson's three with 14 seconds left in the third overtime that clinched the game.
The Cowboys return to action at UNLV on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT.