Nov. 27, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, but is right back to work on Saturday when the Cowboys host Montana State at 7:30 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (4-2) are coming off a hard-fought 65-50 loss at No. 7/6 Ohio State last Monday, but will look to improve to 5-0 at home in 2013-14 against a Bobcat (2-4) squad that is playing its fifth game away from home this season.
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 is a solid 4-2 on the season, including a perfect 4-0 mark in the Arena-Auditorium. The two losses have come on the road at Colorado and, most recently, a 65-50 loss at No. 7/6 Ohio State last Monday. The Pokes trailed by just four at halftime, 38-34, but started the second half with a 9-1 run to go up by four. The Buckeyes would tie the contest twice over the next four minutes, before OSU etched out a slim 48-47 lead at the 10-minute mark. It would be all Ohio State from there, though, as the Buckeyes held Wyoming to just three made free throws over the final 10 minutes to close the game on a 17-3 run. The victory was OSU's 71st-consecutive win over an unranked opponent at home. Wyoming shot a season-low 36 percent (19-of-53) from the floor and managed to make just two of its 14 three-point attempts (14 percent). The Cowboys committed just eight turnovers, but allowed the Buckeyes to shoot 41 percent (23-of-56) and 34 percent (8-of-23), respectively, and earn a 42-29 advantage on the boards. Wyoming did lead 30-28 in points in the paint and committed a season-low eight turnovers. The Cowboys are averaging 69.0 points per game this season on 47 percent from the field and 38 percent beyond the arc, while holding opponents to 61.7 points on 37 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
In his seventh year at the helm for Montana State, head coach Brad Huse has the Bobcats off to a 2-4 start to the 2013-14 season. MSU has played just two home games, though, and three of those four losses have come by six points or less. Montana State started the season with an 84-55 home loss to Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 9, before losing at UC Riverside, 72-67, on Nov. 17. MSU followed with a 1-2 showing at the Central Michigan tournament, including a 59-54 win over Central Michigan. Most recently, the Bobcats won a 77-62 home contest over Cal State Northridge last Tuesday. Four Montana State players scored in double figures to help the team shoot a season-high 52 percent (25-of-48) from the field and 46 percent (12-of-26) beyond the arc. MSU led by seven at halftime, 37-30, and stretched the advantage to 20 points midway through the second half. On the season, the Bobcats average 67.2 points on 42 percent from the floor and 31 percent beyond the arc, while allowing opponents 70.7 points on 46 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Picked to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches poll, Montana State returned three starters from a team that went 13-17 overall last season.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. earned his fifth career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds at Ohio State last Monday. Nance averages 12.7 points per game to rank second on the team, while his 9.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks pace the Pokes. He has scored in double figures in five of UW's six games this season. Junior guard Riley Grabau has been scoring also, as his 14.3 points lead Wyoming and his 2.3 assists are second on the team. He is shooting 56 percent from the field to rank seventh in the MW and 62 percent from deep for third. Sophomore guard Josh Adams paces Wyoming at 2.5 assists per game and is UW's third double-figure scorer at 10.5 points per game. He is one of six Cowboys shooting over 45 percent from the field this season. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 7.5 rebounds rank second for the Pokes, as he adds 6.7 points, while senior guard Nathan Sobey rounds out UW's probable starters at 7.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Sophomore guard Marcus Colbert is the only Bobcat to average in double figures at 11.2 points per game, thanks to a team-high 52 percent from deep. He scored 17 points and added six assists against Cal State Northridge in his first start of the season, as nine different Bobcats have made at least one start this season. Sophomore forward Terrell Brown added 11 points and two steals against CSUN, as he averages 9.3 points and 2.5 rebounds on the season. Senior center Paul Egwuonwu leads MSU at 9.2 rebounds and is second in points at 9.8. He did not start against CSUN, but did score 11 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Senior forward Calen Coleman is the only Bobcat to have started all six games, contributing 9.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Junior forward Eric Norman and junior center Blake Brumwell were MSU's other two starters against Northridge, but have combined for just three starts in 2013-14.
About the Series
Wyoming leads the all-time series with Montana State 40-11, including 5-2 in Laramie. Amazingly, the two teams have met 32 times on a neutral site, as their last 10 games have all been on neutral courts. The Cowboys are 9-1 in their last 10 run-ins with the Bobcats, but lost a 79-72 contest in Casper on Dec. 15, 2007, in the last meeting. Saturday is MSU's first visit to Laramie since Dec. 23, 1997.
The Pokes host NCAA Division II Black Hills State on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.