March 18, 2014
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team starts play in the 2014 College Basketball Invitational (CBI) at Texas A&M on Wednesday. The Cowboys (18-14, 9-9 MW) will play in a third-straight postseason tournament for just the fifth time in program history, while the Aggies (17-15, 8-10 SEC) make their first CBI appearance with the program's eighth trip to the postseason in the last 10 years. Tip is set for 6 p.m. MT at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.
Tickets for the contest can be purchased by calling Texas A&M's 12th Man Foundation at (888) 992-4443 or online at 12thManFoundation.com. Fans can follow live stats, audio and video of the game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on GoWYO.com. The contest will also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by Fox College Sports Pacific (Charter: 137; DirecTV: 623 or 626). Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming stands 18-14 overall after a 9-9 mark in the Mountain West tied it for fifth in the conference standings. The fifth-place finish was the highest for the Cowboys since 2002-03, while their nine conference wins were their most since 2001-02. The Cowboys dropped a 71-67 contest at UNLV in the quarterfinals of the MW tournament last Thursday. Against the Rebels, the Pokes were down 13 points late in the contest, including a 65-55 deficit with just over a minute left, but used a late run to make it interesting. The Cowboys started the spurt with a dunk and added a three, while converting a three-point play to pull within one at 66-64 with 23 seconds left. That would be as close as Wyoming would get, though. The Rebels converted their next four free throws to go up four with 13 seconds remaining and held on for the win. For the season, Wyoming's 48 percent from the field leads the Mountain West and ranks 22nd in the nation, while its 36 percent from deep is fourth and 65.2 points per game are 10th. UW's 72 percent at the free throw line is eighth. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW and 19th in the NCAA in scoring defense at 61.8 points per game and fourth in the league in field goal percentage defense at 41 percent. UW's 32 percent three-point defense is fifth in the conference and 51st in the nation.
A former graduate assistant for the Cowboys, Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy is in his third year with the Aggies. He helped the program to a 17-15 overall mark this season, including 8-10 in SEC play for ninth in the league standings. The Aggies are 16-3 at home this season. Most recently, Texas A&M lost a 91-83 double-overtime game to Missouri last Thursday in the second round of the SEC tournament. After being down much of the game, the Aggies surged ahead 68-64 with 1:52 remaining in regulation, but Missouri tied it up with four straight free throws. As was the case most of the day, Missouri appeared to have things under control in the first overtime, leading 77-73 with 21.5 seconds remaining. The Aggies rallied to force another extra period after converting the tying layup with 8 seconds remaining in the first OT. Missouri would go on to outscore the Aggies, 14-6, in the second extra period. On the season, Texas A&M's 65.2 points per game are 13th in the SEC, while its 43 percent from the field is 12th and 32 percent beyond the arc is 11th. TAMU's 64 percent at the free throw line is last in the SEC. Defensively, the Aggies allow 63.4 points per game for third in the SEC and 35th in the NCAA. TAMU is third in the SEC and 34th nationally in field goal defense at 40 percent and first in the SEC and seventh in the NCAA in three-point defense at 29 percent.
Each Team's Leaders
Sophomore guard Josh Adams continued a torrid run with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists against UNLV last Thursday for his fourth-straight game with at least 20 points. He has averaged 24.0 points over the last four contests to up his team-leading average to 12.9 per game. He also paces the Pokes at 2.9 assists per game. Senior guards Nathan Sobey and Jerron Granberry both contributed 18 points against the Rebels. Sobey averages 9.8 points on the season, but has scored in double figures in six of the last seven contests, while Granberry's total was a career high. Junior guard Riley Grabau is having one of the best shooting years in Cowboy history. His 43 percent beyond the arc would rank seventh in UW single-season history if the season ended today, while his 89 percent at the free throw would be first. He leads the MW and is 11th in the NCAA at the charity stripe. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s team-high 5.9 rebounds rank 17th in the MW, as he adds 6.1 points per game as well.
Junior guard Jamal Jones is the only Aggie to average in double figures at 13.6 points per game to rank 19th in the SEC. He has eight games of 20 or more during the season, including 20 against Missouri in the SEC tournament. Texas A&M has five other players that average at least seven points per game, though, and a roster that features just three seniors. Sophomore guard Alex Caruso is a dynamic player for the Aggies. His 4.8 assists per game rank first in the SEC, while his 2.0 steals are second in the conference and 35th in the NCAA. He notched a career-high 28 points against Missouri, including five threes. Junior forward Kourtney Roberson contributes 9.6 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds to rank eighth in the SEC in boards. Junior guard Jordan Green and sophomore forward Antwan Space round out TAMU's probable starters at 7.0 and 5.9 points, respectively.
About the Series
Texas A&M leads the all-time series with Wyoming, 3-1, but lost a 79-70 contest on March 13, 1986, in Laramie in the last meeting between the two. The contest was the first round of the 1986 NIT, which UW finished runner-up in. The previous three meetings were at neutral sites.
A win on Wednesday would advance Wyoming to next Monday's quarterfinals, where it would face Morehead State or Illinois State on the road.