Cowboys Look to Topple League-Leading Aztecs on Wednesday

Feb. 23, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

Game Notes   Get Acrobat Reader | Gameday Central

Wednesday's Mountain West matchup between the University of Wyoming men's basketball team and San Diego State in Laramie has a little different feel this year. Per usual, the Aztecs (20-7, 13-1 MW) are leading the conference, but this time the Pokes (13-15, 6-9 MW) are the team that can put up the points. UW leads the MW and ranks in the top 45 in the NCAA in three-point percentage and triples per game, while SDSU paces the conference and is in the top 20 in scoring defense, field-goal defense and three-point defense. Tip is set for 8 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. Fans can follow live stats and audio through the gameday central page on 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.

A Look at the Matchup
Head coach Larry Shyatt and Wyoming moved up to eighth in the MW standings at 13-15 overall and 6-9 in league play after an 84-66 win at Colorado State last Saturday. The Cowboys led wire-to-wire in the 225th Border War to claim their largest margin of victory in Fort Collins since 1981. The Pokes opened the game with a 14-0 run by holding the Rams off the scoreboard for the first six-plus minutes of the game and never really looked back from there. CSU would get back within single digits at 51-42 with 13:37 left in the game, but back-to-back triples pushed the advantage back to 14 and the Pokes grew the lead to as much as 21 with three minutes to go. Wyoming shot a season-high 55 percent (31-of-56) from the field for the game and added 46 percent (17-of-37) beyond the arc, as the Cowboys have averaged 15.5 made threes over the last four games. The 31 made field goals were a season high, while the 84 points were UW's second most this season. CSU's 32 percent (20-of-63) from the field was a season low for a Cowboy foe, as the Rams made just 26 percent (8-of-31) from deep. The Cowboys added 17 assists, their second most this season, and just seven turnovers for their sixth game with less than 10 in the last 11 contests. On the season, Wyoming averages 70.6 points on 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep. The Cowboys rank first in the conference and 44th nationally beyond the arc, while their 10.1 triples per game are first in the MW and 10th in the NCAA. Their 72 percent at the free-throw line is fourth in the league and 90th in the nation. The Pokes turn the ball over just 11.2 times per game, good for first in the MW and 42nd in the NCAA. Defensively, Wyoming allows 71.2 points on 43 and 35 percent, respectively. Wyoming's 18.6 fouls per game are third in the conference and 112th nationally.

Head coach Steve Fisher and San Diego State are first in the conference at 20-7 overall and 13-1 in MW play, as their only loss was a 58-57 setback at Fresno State on Feb. 10. Most recently, the Aztecs earned a 78-56 win at San Jose State last Sunday to clinch a share of the MW regular-season title. SDSU has at least won a share of the league's regular-season title in each of the last three seasons and in five of the last six seasons, while its 20-win season is its 11th straight. Overall, the Aztecs score 66.8 points per game on 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep, as all three rank last in the MW. Defensively, though, the Aztecs lead the league by allowing 60.1 points per game, good for fourth in the nation. SDSU holds opponents to 37 percent from the field, also first in the MW and first in the NCAA, and 31 percent beyond the arc, first and 20th, respectively. The Aztecs' plus 6.2 rebounding margin if first in the MW and 33rd in the nation.

Each Team's Leaders
The reigning MW Player of the week, Josh Adams poured in 37 points, one shy of his career high, and a school-record nine threes at Colorado State last Saturday. The senior guard's 24.5 points per game this season lead the MW and rank fourth in the nation, as he is a candidate for MW Player of the Year. He ranks in the top 10 of 11 MW statistical categories, including first in threes per game at 3.1, fifth in three-point percentage at 38 and second in assists per game at 4.2. His threes per game are also 20th in the nation. Junior guard Jason McManamen has been just as hot beyond the arc, as his team-high 46 percent from three paces the MW and is 11th in the NCAA, while his 3.0 triples per game are second and 26th, respectively. McManamen averages 14.0 points per game for 12th in the league and has three 20-point games in the last four contests. He had 20 points and five triples against the Rams. Sophomore forward Alan Herndon is Wyoming's inside presence at 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He had eight points and eight rebounds at Colorado State. Sophomores Jeremy Lieberman and Jonathan Barnes were UW's other starters against the Rams. Lieberman has started the last 13 games.

Freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley paces San Diego State at 13.6 points per game and a team-high 2.1 assists. He came off the bench at SJSU, though, and had 13 points. Sophomore guard Trey Kell adds 11.7 points per game, including 15 versus SJSU, while senior forward Winston Shepard, a preseason All-MW pick, rounds out SDSU's double-figure scorers at 10.7 points. Shepard grabs a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game for 10th in the MW and had 17 points and seven boards versus the Spartans. Senior forward Skylar Spencer's 1.9 blocks per game are third in the conference, while his 6.0 rebounds are 13th. Sophomore forward Malik Pope had 17 points and 11 rebounds at SJSU, but averages 5.7 and 4.4, respectively, per game.

About the Series
The Pokes are 40-38 all-time against San Diego State, but own a 26-9 mark in Laramie. The Aztecs earned a 60-52 win on Jan. 14, 2015, in their last game in the Arena-Auditorium, as SDSU is 7-7 in its last 14 trips to Wyoming. In the last meeting between the two, Wyoming lost a 67-55 game at San Diego on Dec. 30, 2015, in the conference opener for both squads. Adams had 16 points, Hayden Dalton 13 and McManamen 11.

Up Next
Wyoming plays at UNLV on Feb. 27 for its final road game of the regular season. Tip is set for 6 p.m. MT at the Thomas & Mack Center.