LAS VEGAS -
A Mountain West title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships are on the line when the University of Wyoming men's basketball team and No. 25 San Diego State face off in the MW Championships' final on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT. The Cowboys (24-9) earned a dramatic 71-66 overtime win over top-seeded Boise State in the semifinals, while the second-seeded Aztecs (26-7) downed Colorado State, 56-43. Wyoming is playing in just its second MW title game ever, as its first appearance came in 2006 against San Diego State as well. The Aztecs earned a 69-64 victory in overtime in that contest.
The contest will be televised by CBS 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 earned a 71-66 win over top-seeded and 25th-ranked Boise State in Friday's semifinals to move to 24-9 on the season. After trailing by 12 in the first half, the Pokes crafted a 19-3 run before and after halftime to go up 45-41 six minutes in to the second half. Wyoming extended the lead to as much as six with eight minutes left, but the Broncos battled back to send the game to overtime at 57-57. The Cowboy were up by one in the extra frame, before a triple with 40 seconds left put them ahead 66-62. Free throws would seal UW's first victory over a ranked foe on a neutral court since a 73-66 upset of No. 6 Gonzaga in the 2002 NCAA tournament. Wyoming shot 46 percent (22-of-48) from the field, 35 percent (6-of-17) beyond the arc and 78 percent (21-of-27) at the free throw line, while holding Boise State to 39 percent (22-of-57) from the field and 37 percent (10-of-27) from deep. The Broncos went 7-of-13 from three in the first half, but just 3-of-14 the rest of the game. BSU outrebounded UW, 33-28, but committed 26 fouls to just 17 for UW. 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 51st nationally in field-goal percentage. Defensively, the Pokes allow 56.4 points per game on 40 and 35 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is second in the MW and ninth in the NCAA, while its 13.8 fouls per game are first in the conference and second in the nation.
Head coach Steve Fisher and San Diego State are 7-1 since beating Wyoming 67-41 on Feb. 11 in San Diego for a 26-7 overall record. The Aztecs advanced to Saturday's final with a 67-64 win over UNLV in the quarterfinals and a 56-43 victory over Colorado State in the semifinals. Overall, San Diego State averages 62.4 points per game on 42 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc, while allowing 53.4 points on 38 and 30 percent, respectively. The Aztecs rank first in the MW and third in the NCAA in scoring defense, while placing fifth in the nation in field-goal defense and 17th in three-point defense. SDSU's 14.5 fouls per game are ninth in the NCAA.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior guard Josh Adams was once again impressive with a season-high 27 points against Boise State. The All-MW Third Team honoree added five rebounds and three assists, as he averages 13.2 points and 3.3 rebounds. His team-high 3.6 assists are third in the conference. Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. contributed 20 points, four rebounds and three assists. The MW's co-Defensive Player of the Year, Nance averages 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. His 52 percent from the field ranks 55th in the nation. Senior guard Riley Grabau had 13 points, including 8-of-8 at the free throw line. His 95 percent at the charity stripe leads the MW and the NCAA. He is two triples away from second in school history in the category, as he averages 9.2 points and 2.2 assists.. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. had a career-high 16 points in Thursday's Utah State game to go with five rebounds. He contributes 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per contest. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. grabbed 10 boards versus the Aggies on Thursday for his sixth game with double-figure rebounds this season. He has dunks on 63 of his 111 made baskets this season to average 8.1 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Senior guard Aqeel Quinn averages a team-high 11.5 points per game for San Diego State and adds 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Junior forward Winston Shepard contributes 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. Both had 16 points against Colorado State. Senior forward JJ O'Brien adds 10.0 points, 5.2 boards and 2.5 assists per game. Junior forward Skylar Spencer's 2.5 blocks per game are fourth in the MW and 27th nationally, as he adds 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 points. Sophomore forward Matt Shrigley rounds out SDSU's probable starters at 4.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.
About the Series
Wyoming owns a slim 39-37 advantage in the all-time series with San Diego State, but is 2-5 against the Aztecs on a neutral court. SDSU swept the season series with the Cowboys by earning a 60-52 win in Laramie on Jan. 14 and a 67-41 victory in San Diego on Feb. 11. Nance missed the second game between the two with mono.
A win would give Wyoming the MW's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.