Nov. 8, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team starts the 2012-13 regular season by hosting Western State at 8 p.m. on Saturday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys have won seven of their last eight season-opening games and went 2-0 in exhibition play this season, while Western State was 0-3 in exhibition and starts its season in Laramie for the second-straight year.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at GoWYO.com. Fans can also follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's games through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Head coach Larry Shyatt guided the Pokes to a 21-12 overall record last season and returns two starters and six lettermen from that squad. Wyoming has gone 2-0 in exhibition play this season, notching an 82-61 win over Fort Lewis on Oct. 31 in Ethete, Wyo., and a 61-46 victory against College of Wooster last Saturday in the AA. Both contests were close in the first half, before Wyoming used runs midway through the second half to pull away for the easy victory. UW shot 43 percent from the field and 31 percent beyond the arc in exhibition play, while also averaging 40.0 rebounds for a plus 11.5 rebounding margin. The Cowboys were plus 6.0 in turnover margin and averaged 14.0 assists per game. Wyoming played stingy defense last season, allowing just 56.2 points per game for sixth in the NCAA, and was the last team in the nation to allow more than 60 points. Offensively, UW ranked in the top 40 in the nation in free throw percentage (73.9) and turnover margin (+2.5).
Head coach Mike Moskowitz guided NCAA Division II Western State to a 13-14 overall record last season and 11-12 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. He returns for his sixth season at the helm for the Mountaineers with nine letterwinners and three starters returning from that squad. WSCU has played three exhibitions game this season, and has lost all three. The Mountaineers dropped a 92-74 neutral site contest to Montana Western on Nov. 2, before losing road games at Westminster, 95-53, last Saturday and at Weber State, 83-56, on Monday. Western State shot just 35 percent from the field and 22 percent beyond the arc in those games, while allowing a minus 9.0 turnover margin. During the 2011-12 season, the Mountaineers shot 41 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three to go with 61 percent at the free throw line. Western State collected 37.4 rebounds per game, but allowed its opponents 37.9. The WSCU offense scored 66.3 points per game, while the defense allowed 69.2. Western State had a minus 1.8 turnover margin in 2011-12.
Each Team's Leaders
Wyoming's probable lineup features two returning starters in senior forward Leonard Washington and senior guard Luke Martinez. Washington ranked in the top 10 of six different MW statistical categories last season, thanks to 12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Martinez is one of the top three-point shooters in the conference, after hitting 81 last season with at least one in the last 29 consecutive games. He averaged 11.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2011-12 and hit five treys in UW's two exhibition games. Two of last season's backups made their way into Saturday's starting lineup in senior guard Derrious Gilmore and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. Gilmore averaged 3.1 points and 1.0 assists backing up JayDee Luster at the point last year, while Nance was UW's sixth man with 4.1 points and 4.0 rebounds. Nance averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in exhibition play this season. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau looks to make his first career start on Saturday, after seeing time in 21 games a year ago and starting both exhibition contests.
Western State returns three starters in seniors Charles Joseph, Travis Shepherd and Steven Aldridge. Joseph, a center, was second on the team last year with 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while averaging 12.5 points and 10 rebounds in WSCU's two exhibition games he played in. Aldridge returns to run the point after averaging 3.0 assists with 6.6 points last season. He had seven assists in exhibition play this year. Shepherd contributed 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 2011-12 from this guard position. Junior guard Terrence Boyd is a newcomer and looks to make an immediate impact after averaging 19.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in exhibition play this season. He shot 43 percent (19-of-44) from the field and earned 11 steals. He scored a game-high 18 against Weber State. Junior guard Jordan Adams makes his way into the probable starting lineup, after starting half of WSCU's games last season. He averaged 5.4 points and 1.9 rebounds.
About the Series
The Pokes have dominated the all-time series with Western State, leading 25-2 with a 17-2 mark in Laramie. Wyoming has won the last five meetings by an average of 37 points, including two victories by 43 and 39, respectively, in the last two seasons.
Wyoming hosts the Global Sports Hoops Showcase next week in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys face North Carolina Central on Wednesday at 7 p.m., South Dakota on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Southern on Friday at 8 p.m.