Feb. 28, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team's last road game of the season will be a tough one, as the Cowboys (18-10, 4-10 MW) square off with No. 14/14 New Mexico (24-4, 11-2 MW) in The Pit on Saturday at 3 p.m. MT. The league-leading Lobos have won four-straight games and are 7-0 at home in Mountain West play, but Wyoming's six road wins this season are second in the conference.
Fans can follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by ROOT Sports (Optimum: channel 23; DirecTV: 683; Dish Network: 414). Check your cable or satellite provider for channel info.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is seventh in the MW standings at 18-10 overall and 4-10 in conference play, after two-straight league losses. Most recently, the Pokes dropped a 72-66 game at Air Force last Tuesday. The tightly-contested game featured five lead changes and four ties in the second half and saw Wyoming pull within three with just over a minute left, but not any closer. Air Force made a layup on its ensuing possession and added one free throw down the stretch, while holding the Pokes without another point. UW's 10 threes were the most for the Pokes on the road this season, while its 30 attempts were a season high. Wyoming's defense has been its strength this season, allowing just 57.1 points per game for first in the MW and 11th in the NCAA. Two of its last three opponents have scored over 70, though, and all three have shot over 50 percent from the field. Still, the Pokes are fourth in the MW in three-point defense at 32.0 and blocks at 3.6. Offensively, Wyoming ranks eight in the MW in points at 61.6 per game, as five of its lowest point totals of the season have come in conference play. UW's 6.6 threes per game are third in the MW, though. The Cowboys lead the league in turnover margin at plus 2.6, as their 11.6 turnovers per game rank 37th in the NCAA. UW's 14.6 personal fouls per game are 18th in the nation.
Head coach Steve Alford and New Mexico enter the weekend with a commanding lead in the MW standings at 24-4 overall and 11-2 in conference play for 14th in both national polls. Colorado State is second at 9-4. The Lobos have won their last four games, including two by double digits, and are 7-0 in MW play in The Pit this season. Most recently, UNM earned a 70-60 home win over San Diego State last Wednesday to avenge one of its MW losses this season. The Lobos went on an early 15-3 run in the second half to go up double digits and held on late after the Aztecs cut the lead to six. UNM had 18 assists on 21 made baskets. The Lobos are also a team that is predicated on defense, ranking third in scoring defense at 61.0 points per game. UNM is third in field goal defense at 39.2 and first during MW play at 38.5, but eight in three-point defense at 34.6. Offensively, the Lobos averaged 67.7 points for sixth in the conference and rank seventh in field goal percentage at 41.7. New Mexico's plus 3.8 rebounding margin is fifth and 14.1 assists are third.
Each Team's Leaders
After missing two games with an ankle injury, senior forward Leonard Washington returned in a big way with 15 points and 13 rebounds at Air Force for his fourth-consecutive double-double. He is the first Cowboy to accomplish the feat since Justin Williams in 2005-06. Washington paces the Pokes at 13.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, all of which rank in the top 10 of the MW stats. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore has struggled from the field recently but still averages 12.0 points and 2.6 assists. His 2.2 threes per game and 36 percent beyond the arc both rank fourth in the MW. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. is second on the team at 6.8 rebounds to go with 9.6 points and nearly one block per game. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau averages a team high 2.7 assists and adds 5.6 points, as his 12 point at Air Force was his sixth game in double figures this season. Freshman guard Josh Adams contributes 6.2 points and is known for making big plays in key moments for Wyoming. Junior reserve guard Nathan Sobey led the Cowboys at Air Force with a career-high 22 points. His 6-of-6 showing from three tied a MW single-game record.
Preseason All-MW selection Kendall Williams leads the Lobos at 14.1 points and 4.6 assists per game. The junior guard ranks second in the MW in assists and third at the free throw line at 79 percent. Sophomore center Alex Kirk averages 11.9 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds, thanks in part to a season-high 25 points against SDSU last Wednesday. Junior guard Tony Snell is UNM's other double-digit scorer at 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He leads the MW at the free throw line with 85 percent. Sophomore guard Hugh Greenwood averages 7.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while junior forward Cameron Bairstow rounds out UNM's probable starters at 8.8 points and 5.3 rebounds. Bairstow added 16 points against the Aztecs, while Snell had 10 and Williams posted eight assists.
About the Series
The Pokes own a slight 64-62 lead in the all-time series with New Mexico, but are 23-38 in Albuquerque. Wyoming is just 2-8 in the last 10 meetings against the Lobos, with its last win in the series coming in 2011. The Cowboys have lost nine-straight games in The Pit and last won there, 103-91, on Feb. 15, 2003.
Wyoming concludes the regular season by hosting rival Colorado State at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in the Arena-Auditorium.