LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team squares off with another NCAA-tournament contender on Saturday when the Cowboys host New Mexico State at 4:30 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (5-0) after receiving votes in both national polls after playing staunch defense to start the season, while the Aggies (3-3) are seeking a nonconference resume builder in hopes of a fourth-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
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 be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised by ROOT Sports. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming and head coach Larry Shyatt moved to 5-0 on the season after a 65-41 win over Stetson on Wednesday, as the Cowboys held their fourth-straight foe under 50 points to accomplish the feat for the first time since January 1982. The Pokes once again struck an early lead, this time leading by as many as 12 points just six minutes into the game. The Hatters would briefly cut the lead to single digits, but a 14-5 run by Wyoming put the Cowboys up 33-16 at halftime and UW would extend that lead to as much as 27 late in the second half. Wyoming shot more than 50 percent from the field for a fifth-straight game, hitting 55 percent (24-of-44) from the field, while holding the Hatters to 34 percent (13-of-38) for the game and just 18 percent (4-of-22) in the first half. The Cowboys earned a 32-21 advantage on the boards, the first time since 2010-11 with back-to-back games with a double-figure rebounding margin. Wyoming forced Stetson into 18 turnovers and outscored the Hatters 32-14 in the paint. UW's 19 points off turnovers marked the fifth-straight game the Pokes have scored in double figures off takeaways. On the season, Wyoming averages 65.2 points per game on 55 percent from the field and 38 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys ranked first in the MW and sixth nationally in field goal percentage, while their 19.8 assists per game also lead the conference and are seventh in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 47.0 points per game on 37 and 35 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is fourth in the NCAA, while its 12.4 fouls per game are fourth.
Marvin Menzies is in his eighth season as the head man at New Mexico State and welcomes back three starters from a squad that went 26-10 overall and 12-4 in the WAC last season to advance to the NCAA tournament's second round. The Aggies are off to a 3-3 start to this season, as their three losses have all come on the road and three wins have all come at home. Most recently, NMSU posted a dominant 78-33 win over Florida A&M on Wednesday. The beginning of the first half was evenly played and New Mexico State led 12-11 at the 10:08 mark. However, from there the Aggies closed out the half with a 27-4 run and entered intermission with a 39-15 lead and opened the second half with a 15-0 run to easily close out FAMU. The Aggies played a suffocating defense and forced 21 turnovers and held the Rattlers to 23 percent (12-of-52) from the floor. NMSU finished the evening shooting 51 percent (28-of-54). The Aggies scored 40 points in the paint and grabbed 41 rebounds. The 33 points by Florida A&M were the fewest allowed by New Mexico State since 1952. On the season, the Aggies average 75.5 points on 46 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep. NMSU's 15.8 offensive rebounds per game are 17th in the NCAA. Defensively, the Aggies allow 66.2 points on 45 and 25 percent, respectively. NMSU ranks 29th nationally in three-point defense and 51st in rebounding margin at plus 8.0.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. notched 15 points, four rebounds and two assists against Stetson, as the MW Preseason Player of the Year averages team highs of 12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Junior guard Josh Adams chipped in 11 points, four assists and four steals. His 4.4 assists per game lead the Cowboys and he adds 9.2 points. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. is right behind him at 4.0 assists per game to go with a team-high nine three pointers for 8.2 points per contest. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. is Wyoming's other threat inside, as 13 of his 19 baskets this season have come on dunks and he is shooting 86 percent from the field. He averages 8.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. Senior guard Riley Grabau made three threes against Stetson to climb into UW's all-time top 10 with 118 in his career. He contributes 6.8 points and 1.8 assists per game.
Senior forward Remi Barry paces a balanced NMSU attack with four players in double figures. Barry averages 13.2 points per game and shoots 59 percent from the field, while senior guard Daniel Mullings is right behind him at 12.7 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds. He also paces the Aggies in assists at 2.3 per contest. Senior guard DK Eldridge contributes 11.8 points per game, while freshman forward Pascal Siakam adds 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks off the bench. Sophomore guard Ian Baker and senior center Tshilidzi Nephawe round out NMSU's probable starters at 7.7 and 5.8 points per game, respectively. Eldridge led four Aggies in double figures against Florida A&M with 13 points, while Mullings and Siakam added 11 points apiece. NMSU's roster features nine foreign players and just one from New Mexico.
About the Series
Wyoming is tied, 2-2, in the all-time series with New Mexico State, as the two programs have not met since a 60-45 Aggie win on Dec. 20, 1997, in Shyatt's first season at Wyoming. The Cowboys won the previous two meetings, both in Laramie, in 1966, while NMSU took the series opener in 1959 in Las Cruces.
The Pokes conclude a seven-game home stand to start the 2014-15 season by hosting Denver on Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.