LARAMIE, Wyo. -
With two of its last three regular-season games on the road, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team faces a critical Mountain West contest at UNLV on Saturday. The Cowboys (21-7, 10-5 MW) are one of five teams within two games of the conference lead, but now play the Rebels (15-13, 6-9 MW) in the Thomas & Mack Center, a building the Pokes have not won in since 2003. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT.
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
Wyoming and head coach Larry Shyatt dropped into a fourth-place tie in the MW standings after a 64-59 home loss to Fresno State on Wednesday. The Pokes lost just their second game in the Arena-Auditorium this season, while the Bulldogs won their second game ever in Laramie. The two programs battled through nine ties and nine lead changes over 39 minutes, before a three brought the Pokes within 59-57 with 1:02 remaining. The Bulldogs ran the clock and missed a jumper, but got an offensive board and the ensuing tip-in with 19 seconds left to go up by four. The Cowboys missed on their next possession and Fresno State hit its free throws for the win. Wyoming shot 47 percent (20-of-43) from the field and 42 percent (8-of-19) beyond the arc to 40 percent (23-of-57) and 40 percent (6-of-15), respectively, for Fresno State. The loss was UW's first this season when outshooting an opponent from deep. The Bulldogs earned a 34-31 edge in rebounds, including 12 offensive boards, and collected eight steals on 14 Cowboy turnovers. Fresno State led 17-2 in points off turnovers, the second-most points scored off turnovers against UW this season. On the season, Wyoming averages 61.9 points per game on 47 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys are second in the MW and 44th nationally in field-goal percentage. Defensively, the Pokes allow 55.5 points per game on 40 and 34 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is second in the MW and seventh in the NCAA, while its 13.6 fouls per game are first in the conference and second in the nation.
Head coach Dave Rice and UNLV are 6-9 since starting the conference season with a 76-71 loss in Laramie on Dec. 31. Seven of the Rebels' last eight defeats have come by single digits, though. Most recently, UNLV lost an 83-65 contest at Utah State on Tuesday night. The Aggies trailed 38-35 at halftime, but opened the second half with an 11-2 run to take the lead and were up by 11 with 12 minutes to play. UNLV responded with an 8-0 spurt to close the gap to 55-53 with just under 10 minutes remaining, but Utah State would outscored the Rebels 28-12 the rest of the game. The Aggies shot over 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc. As a team, UNLV is third in the MW at 68.6 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 36 percent beyond the arc. Defensively, they allow 65.6 points for eighth in the league on 40 percent and 34 percent, respectively. UNLV is third in the MW and 51st in the nation in field goal defense. The Rebels' 6.9 blocks per game lead the MW and rank fourth in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior guard Josh Adams recorded his fourth 20-point game of the season, and second in the last three contests, with 22 points against Fresno State. He averages 12.3 points and 3.1 rebounds, while his team-high 3.6 assists per game rank third in the MW. He's also sixth in the league at 1.4 steals per game. Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. returned from a four-game absence on Wednesday versus the Bulldogs. He had nine points, eight rebounds and four assists, as he paces the Pokes at 16.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for the season. He ranks in the top 10 of eight different statistical categories in the MW, including top five in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. Senior guard Riley Grabau added 11 points against Fresno State, including three triples. He contributes 8.8 points and 2.3 assists, while his 95 percent at the free throw line leads the MW and the NCAA. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games, thanks in part to shooting 75 percent from the field. He averages 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. rounds out Wyoming's probable starters at 6.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Sophomore forward Christian Wood paces UNLV at 15.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. His 15 double-doubles this year are eighth in the nation, while he is 10th in blocks. Wood is second in the MW in rebounding and first in blocks after 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks versus Utah State. Freshman forward Goodluck Okonoboh is second on the team in blocks at 2.8 per game, 12th in the nation and second in the conference, to go with 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Senior guard Cody Doolin leads the squad and MW at 4.0 assists and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.3, which is eighth in the country. Senior guard Jelan Kendrick averages 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest, while freshman guard Patrick McCaw adds 9.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. McCaw had 13 points and two steals against the Aggies, starting in place of injured freshman guard Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn, a leading candidate for MW Freshman of the Year, has missed the Rebels' last four games. UNLV has used a rotation this season that includes five freshmen, one sophomore and two seniors.
About the Series
Wyoming trails in the all-time series with UNLV, 16-34, including just a 3-23 mark in Las Vegas. The Cowboys have not beat the Rebels in the Thomas & Mack since 2003, a string of 13-straight losses. The Pokes earned a 76-71 home win on Dec. 31 in the first meeting between the two programs this season. Nance had 29 points and four Cowboys scored in double figures, as the Cowboys hit nine of their last 11 free throws to hold on for the victory.
The Cowboys host Utah State for Senior Night on March 4 at 7 p.m. MT. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com.