LARAMIE, Wyo. -
After opening the 2014-15 season and the newly-renovated Arena-Auditorium in style on Sunday, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team is right back to action on Tuesday when the Cowboys host Western State at 7 p.m. in the Double A. The Pokes (1-0) earned a 78-70 win over Northern Colorado in the season opener, while the Mountaineers (1-1) are coming off a double-overtime victory over fellow NCAA Division II member West Texas A&M.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.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.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming started the 2014-15 campaign with a strong showing in the season-opener on Sunday against Northern Colorado. All five starters reached double-figures points, but a feisty Bears squad tied the contest at 58-58 with six minutes to go. The Cowboys responded with a 14-4 run over the next four minutes to take control for the 78-70 win. UNC hung with the Pokes for nearly 34 minutes, before a trey and emphatic dunk sparked the run, as the Bears would only get within eight down the stretch. Wyoming shot 62 percent (26-of-42) from the field, including 72 percent in the second half, while adding 45 percent (8-of-18) beyond the arc. UNC connected on 49 percent (25-of-51) and 35 percent (6-of-17), respectively. The Cowboys outrebounded the Bears 24-21 and notched assists on 21 of their 26 baskets during the game. Wyoming is picked to finish sixth in the Mountain West in the league's preseason poll after welcoming back four starters and nine letterwinners.
Western State went just 3-23 overall and 3-19 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference last season, but the Mountaineers have a new head coach in Bradd Schafer. Wyoming fans may remember Schafer, who coached a Black Hills State team that gave the Cowboys fits in early December last year. The Pokes led the Yellow Jackets by just seven points with seven minutes left, before Larry Nance Jr. took over on the offensive end and the UW defense held BHSU to just two field goals down the stretch. Schafer now has Western State off to a 1-1 start to 2014-15, including a 97-88 double-overtime victory against West Texas A&M last Saturday. The Mountaineers shot just 29 percent from the field in the first half, but rallied in the second stanza to force one overtime and a second one. In the second overtime, a 13-0 run would prove to the difference maker for WSU. Offensively, the Mountaineers averaged 80.0 points per game on 37 percent from the field, 26 percent beyond the arc and 74 percent at the free throw line. Defensively, WSU allows opponents 82.5 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 26 percent from deep. Western State averages 46.5 rebounds and 16 turnovers per game.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. had quite the showing in his return from injury, but he had plenty of help too. The MW Preseason Player of the Year notched 21 points, the most in a season opener since Afam Muojeke's 31 versus CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 14, 2008, and added eight rebounds, a steal, block and assist in 35 minutes. Wyoming's four other starters reached double figures as well. Junior guard Josh Adams contributed 14 points, including 4-of-6 from deep, while senior guard Riley Grabau added 13 in 39 minutes and senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. had 12. The trio notched five assists each, as UW's 21 assists were its most since January of 2010. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. scored 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.
Senior guard Mason Biddle leads Western State at 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. He finished just one assist and one rebound away from a triple-double against West Texas A&M, as he notched 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Junior guard Danny Hopkins contributes 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, while senior forward Devin Kastrup is right behind him at 14.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. Junior forward C.J. Schutt is WSU's other scorer in double figures at 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds, but he comes off the bench. Schutt posted a team-high 19 points against West Texas A&M. Redshirt sophomore guard Jalen Thompson and senior guard Dominique Wright round out Western State's probable starters at 5.5 and 6.0 points per game, respectively.
About the Series
Wyoming holds a dominant 27-2 lead in the all-time series with Western State, including 19-2 in Laramie. The Pokes have been victorious in the last seven meetings between the two programs, including a 69-52 win on Jan. 1, 2014. In that game, Trey Washington posted a career-high 24 points and the Cowboys used a 17-3 run in the second half for the program's first win on New Year's Day since 1946.
The Cowboys continue their season by hosting Colorado on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium, before Wyoming football hosts Boise State at 8:15 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium. Fans can purchase a Bandit Bundle ticket prior to the doubleheader for $45 by contacting the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office.