LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team closes the regular season with a tall task at New Mexico on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT. The Cowboys (22-8, 11-6 MW) earned their largest conference margin of victory since 2002 with a 76-53 win over Utah State on Wednesday, but now face the Lobos (14-15, 6-11 MW) on their Senior Night in The Pit, a building the Pokes have not won in since 2003. With the last day of MW play on tap, Wyoming can still finish anywhere from third to sixth in the final league standings.
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 moved into a tie for fourth in the MW standings after a 76-53 Senior Night win against Utah State on Wednesday. It was a game the five Cowboy seniors who have dramatically turned the program around seemed determined to win. The Pokes led by double digits seven minutes into the game, by 10 at halftime and as many as 25 late in the second half. Wyoming never trailed en route to its largest margin of victory in a conference contest since a 23-point win over Colorado State on Jan. 12, 2002. UW's 11 MW wins this season also tie a program record set in 2001-02. Wyoming shot 56 percent (30-of-54) from the field and 33 percent (7-of-21) from deep. The Cowboys outrebounded the Aggies, 30-21, and racked up 26 assists, their most since 2009, and committed a season-low six turnovers. On the season, Wyoming averages 62.2 points per game on 47 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys are second in the MW and 39th nationally in field-goal percentage. Defensively, the Pokes allow 55.9 points per game on 40 and 35 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is second in the MW and 10th in the NCAA, while its 13.5 fouls per game are first in the conference and second in the nation.
Head coach Craig Neal and New Mexico are just 1-8 since an overtime loss in Laramie on Jan. 24. The Lobos rebounded with a 67-41 home win over San Jose State, but have since lost eight-straight games. UNM enters the weekend eighth in the conference at 14-15 overall and 6-11 in league play. In their last outing, the Lobos suffered a 59-55 setback at Fresno State last Saturday. The Bulldogs built a 22-point lead in the first half and 10 in the second half only to see the Lobos roar back to within two points with a minute left, but that was as close as they could get. UNM made just one of its eight three-point attempts and was outscored 21-9 in points off turnovers. Overall, the Lobos average 62.3 points on 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep, while allowing 60.3 points on 40 and 31 percent, respectively. New Mexico ranks fourth in the MW in the scoring defense, field-goal defense and three-point defense.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. looks to be back to his old form, as he dropped 21 points and 10 rebounds on Utah State for his first double-double since Feb. 4. He leads Wyoming at 15.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while his 54 percent from the field ranks 41st in the NCAA. Junior guard Josh Adams chipped in 17 points in 27 minutes and tied a career high with eight assists versus the Aggies. He averages 12.8 points, but has scored more than 20 in three of the last five games. His 3.7 assists are third in the MW. Senior guard Riley Grabau hit three triples against Utah State and is now four away from fourth in school history. He contributes 8.8 points and 2.3 assists per game. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. added 11 points against the Aggies and has reached double figures in six of the last eight contests, as 62 of his 107 made baskets this season have been dunks. He adds 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 73 percent from the field. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. rounds out Wyoming's probable starters at 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Senior guard Deshawn Delaney paces New Mexico at 12.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, as he ranks 14th in the MW in points and ninth in rebounds. He had a game-high 15 points against Fresno State. Fellow senior guard Hugh Greenwood adds 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists. His 2.3 treys per game are third in the MW. Sophomore center Ogij Aget is UNM's inside presence at 6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Redshirt sophomore guard Devon Williams also contributes 5.9 points per game, while freshman guard Xavier Adams rounds out the Lobos' probable starters at 3.4 points per contest.
About the Series
Wyoming trails 65-66 in the all-time series with New Mexico, including a 23-40 mark in Albuquerque, as the Cowboys have not won in The Pit since 2003, a string of 11-straight losses. The last three meetings between the two have gone to overtime, though, including a 63-62 home win for Wyoming on Jan. 24. In that game the Pokes missed a free throw to tie the game with 14 seconds left, only to have Nance steal an ensuing UNM pass and dunk the ball with just three seconds remaining for the improbable win.
The first round of the 2015 Mountain West Basketball Championships begins on Wednesday, while the quarterfinals commence on Thursday. Wyoming has clinched a first-round bye and could finish anywhere from third to sixth in the final regular-season standings.