LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team faces its third opponent from the Front Range on Tuesday when the Cowboys host Denver at 7 p.m. MT. The Pokes (6-0) continued a strong start to 2014-15 with a resume-building 78-75 win over New Mexico State last Saturday, while the Pioneers (3-2) come to Laramie seeking their first victory in the city since 1998.
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
Head coach Larry Shyatt has Wyoming at 6-0 on the season after a hard-fought 78-75 win over New Mexico State on Saturday for the program's 200th nonconference victory in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys owned a 37-33 lead at halftime, but the Aggies battled back and swapped the lead with Wyoming eight times in the second half. NMSU hit a layup with 4:21 left to go in front 63-62, but the Cowboys crafted a 7-2 run to turn momentum back Wyoming's way. The spurt put the Pokes up 71-65 with two minutes remaining, as UW hit free throws down the stretch to maintain the advantage. Wyoming topped 50 percent from the field for a sixth-straight game, hitting 51 percent (25-of-49) and 81 percent (25-of-31) at the free throw line. The Aggies connected on 46 percent (28-of-61) from the field and 39 percent (7-of-18) from deep. Both teams pulled down 33 rebounds and scored 40 points in the paint, but the Cowboys committed six less fouls and earned four more assists. On the season, Wyoming averages 67.3 points per game on 54 percent from the field and 37 percent beyond the arc. The Cowboys ranked first in the MW and fourth nationally in field goal percentage, while their 18.7 assists per game also lead the conference and are eighth in the nation. Defensively, the Pokes allow 51.7 points per game on 38 and 35 percent, respectively. UW's scoring defense is ninth in the NCAA, while its 12.4 fouls per game are sixth.
Head coach Joe Scott returned four starters from a Denver team that went 16-15 overall and 8-6 in the Summit League last season. The Pioneers are 3-2 so far in 2014-15, but both losses have come on the road. Most recently, Denver earned a 79-60 win over New Orleans on Sunday. The Pioneers started the second half with a 17-7 run which opened up a 21-point lead 59-38 over the Privateers. The lead never got smaller than 12 points after that, as the DU bench scored 31 points and five Pioneers reached double figures. Denver finished the game shooting 55 percent (29-of-53), while UNO shot 42 percent (23-of-54). The Pioneers hit 38 percent from behind the three-point line (9-of-24) and had 23 assists on 29 field goals. Overall, Denver scores 66.4 points on 46 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep. The Pioneers allow 61.6 points on 44 and 31 percent, respectively. DU has a minus-4.2 rebounding margin, but plus-2.0 turnover margin. Denver's 8.8 threes per game are 32nd in the NCAA, while its 18.0 assists are 12th.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. posted 24 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks against New Mexico State, as the MW Preseason Player of the Year continues to average team highs of 14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. and junior guard Josh Adams added 15 points apiece, as Hankerson added five rebounds. Adams averages 10.2 points and a team-high 4.0 assists per contest for second in the MW, while Hankerson contributes 9.3 points and 3.7 assists while shooting 58 percent beyond the arc. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. has dunks on 14 of his 22 baskets this season to shoot 85 percent from the field. He averages 7.8 points and 3.7 rebounds, while senior guard Riley Grabau adds 7.3 points and 2.3 assists. Grabau and Adams are tied for the MW lead in free throw percentage at 93 percent after both hitting 14 of 15 attempts this season.
Senior guard Cam Griffin paces three Pioneers in double figures at 13.0 points per game and adds a team-high 6.6 rebounds. He is shooting 57 percent from the field and 88 percent at the free throw line this season to go with a team-high seven steals. Fellow senior guard Brett Olson, who made the game-winning shot with three seconds left against Wyoming last season, averages 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and a team-high 4.6 assists. Junior guard Nate Engesser contributes 11.5 points, including a team-high 11 three pointers, but comes off the bench. His 61.1 percent beyond the arc ranks ninth in the NCAA. Freshman center Daniel Amigo and junior guards Jalen Love and Bryant Rucker round out Denver's probable starters at 7.5, 5.6 and 5.4 points per game, respectively.
About the Series
Wyoming owns a 101-50 lead in the all-time series with Denver, including a 62-15 advantage in Laramie. The last 10 meetings have been close, though, as each program has five wins when hosting the game. The Pioneers have not won in Laramie since 1998.
The Pokes face their first road game of the season at SMU on Friday at 5 p.m. MT.