Nov. 23, 2011
Laramie, Wyo. -
After they get their fill of turkey, Cowboy fans will have a chance to get their fill of basketball this weekend. The University of Wyoming men's basketball team will host Portland State, Maryland Eastern Shore and Louisiana Tech for the Jim Thorpe Classic on Friday-Sunday in the Arena-Auditorium.
Louisiana Tech and Maryland Eastern Shore will start the tournament at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, followed at 7 p.m. by Portland State versus the Cowboys. Saturday's first game sees Portland State face Louisiana Tech at 4:30 p.m., followed by Maryland Eastern Shore and Wyoming at 7 p.m. The event concludes on Sunday with Maryland Eastern Shore and Portland State at 3:30 p.m. and Louisiana Tech and Wyoming at 7 p.m.
Tickets to all tournament games can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at WyomingAthletics.com. Fans can also follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's games, as well as live video of the postgame press conference, through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will be broadcast on the radio through the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is off to a 3-1 start in its second stint under head coach Larry Shyatt. The Cowboys opened with home wins over Western State, 78-39, and Northern Colorado, 75-56, before falling at Green Bay, 52-44, on Nov. 19. In its latest action, UW notched a 67-56 win over South Dakota on Tuesday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys are shooting 46 percent (87-of-189) from the field, but have relied on their defense early in the season. UW is holding its opponents to 50.8 points per game and a 33.7 field goal percentage, both of which top the Mountain West this season and would have led the nation last season.
Portland State has started 2011-12 at 2-1 after going 14-16 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference last season. Third-year head coach Tyler Geving and the Vikings opened with a 69-61 loss at Denver on Nov. 11, before claiming a 66-65 home win over Seattle on Nov. 15. In their latest action PSU defeated Linfield, 101-64, at home on Monday night. As a team, the Vikings are averaging 76 points per game on 44 percent (81-of-181) from the field and 27 percent (13-of-48) from deep. PSU has a plus 10.7 rebounding and -1.0 turnover margin.
Maryland Eastern Shore is 1-4 in its fourth season under head coach Frankie Allen. The Hawks return four letterwinners and three starters from a team that went 9-22 overall in 2010-11 and 5-12 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. UMES earned its one win with a 64-62 overtime win at home against American on Nov. 14, but have gone 0-4 on the road this season. The Hawks enter this weekend with a three-game losing streak, most recently falling at Kansas State, 92-50, on Tuesday night. UMES is averaging 52.6 points per game on 33.5 percent (91-of-271) from the field. The Hawks have a minus 5.0 rebounding and minus 7.0 turnover margin.
First-year head coach Michael White inherited a Louisiana Tech team that went 12-20 overall last season and 2-14 in the Western Athletic Conference. He's guided the Bulldogs to a 1-1 record to open the 2011-12 season, with three returning starters. LT opened with a 92-70 home win over Mississippi College on Nov. 13, but dropped a 68-61 road contest at UT Arlington on Nov. 19 in its latest action. As a team, the Bulldogs are averaging 76.5 points per game on 42 percent (62-of-147) from the field and 31 percent (20-of-63) from deep. Louisiana Tech has a minus 4.5 rebounding and plus 3.0 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior guard Francisco Cruz continues to be Wyoming's top scorer at 14.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington has stepped up his game the last two contests. He's averaging 11.5 points per game to go with a team-high 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
Portland State has four players in double figures, led by senior forward Chehales Tapscott at 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. Fellow senior big man Nate Lozeau is contributing 15.3 points and 10.0 rebounds from his center position. Senior guard Charles Odum is also averaging 15.3 points per contest.
UMES is led by sophomore guard Louis Bell at 13.2 points per game, while junior guard Percy Woods is adding 10.0 points. Junior center Olantunji Kosile is the Hawks' inside game at 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest.
Louisiana Tech has been paced this season by senior guard Trevor Gaskins at 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while sophomore Cordarius Johnson is adding 13.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. Eight different Bulldogs have started a game and only two have started both contests. Ten players are averaging more than 13 minutes of playing time.
About the Series
The Cowboys are a combined 4-0 all-time against the Jim Thorpe Classic's three teams. UW earned a 104-58 home win over Portland State on Dec. 29, 2001 in the only meeting between the two programs, and is 3-0 versus Louisiana Tech. Wyoming won a 91-73 neutral-site game on Dec. 27, 1998 in the last matchup between the Cowboys and Bulldogs. Saturday's meeting with Maryland Eastern Shore will be the first for UW.
Next week Wyoming hosts Utah Valley at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Bradley for the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge on Saturday at 8 p.m.