UW Men Face Tough Road Test at Illinois State on Tuesday

Dec. 3, 2012

Laramie, Wyo. -

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Fresh off an upset of a top-25 team, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team goes right back to work on Tuesday. The 8-0 Cowboys are receiving votes in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, but face a tough road test at Illinois State as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge. In their latest action, the Pokes posted a 76-69 upset of No. 19 Colorado on Saturday in front of 8,240 fans in the Arena-Auditorium, while the 5-2 Redbirds lost a 69-66 contest at No. 5 Louisville after leading the Cardinals by 13 in the first half. Tip is set for 6 p.m. MT at Redbird Arena in Normal, Ill.

Fans can follow live stats, live audio and live video of Wyoming's game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will also be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.

A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming's 8-0 start to the 2012-13 campaign is its best since beginning the 1987-88 season with an 11-game winning streak. Most recently, the Pokes knocked off No. 19/19 Colorado, 76-69, on Saturday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The victory moved head coach Larry Shyatt to 4-1 all-time at home against ranked foes. The seven-point margin of victory tied for UW's closest this season, as five of its eight wins have come by more than 13 points. Wyoming trailed the Buffs by two at halftime on Saturday, but scored 50 in the second half for the upset with five Cowboys in double figures. On the defensive end, the Pokes forced Colorado into 17 turnovers and drew five charges. The Cowboys lead the Mountain West in scoring defense by allowing 53.9 points per game, rank third in blocked shots at 4.2 and third in field goal percentage defense at 36.3. Offensively, the Cowboys are third in three-point makes at 7.5 per game and fourth in three-point percentage (33.5). UW's plus 4.1 turnover margin is second in the conference and its plus 14.8 scoring margin is third.

Head coach Dan Muller took over an Illinois State squad this season that finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 21-14 overall record and 9-9 in the Missouri Valley to advance to the second round of the NIT. Four Redbird starters and nine letterwinners returned from that squad, as ISU has started the 2012-13 season with an impressive 5-2 mark. Illinois State enters Tuesday with two-straight losses, but the first was a 72-69 overtime loss against the Big Ten's Northwestern on Nov. 24 and the second was a 69-66 loss at No. 5 Louisville on Saturday. The Redbirds led the Cardinals by as many as 13 points in the first half, before Louisville earned the come-from-behind victory. ISU's three home wins on the season have all come by at least 28 points. The Redbirds are averaging 82.3 points on the offensive end thanks to over 50 percent from the field and 36 percent beyond the arc. ISU ranks 10th in the nation in field goal percentage and 16th in assists (17.6 apg). Defensively, Illinois State allows 66.9 points per game, 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep to opponents. ISU has a plus 3.0 rebounding margin and plus 2.7 turnover margin.

Each Team's Leaders
Several players stepped up big in Wyoming's win over Colorado on Saturday. Senior forward Leonard Washington posted 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. He leads UW at 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Senior guard Luke Martinez had his streak of 36 games with at least one three snapped, but still added 13 points and nine rebounds. He averages 13.3 points thanks to over 41 percent beyond the arc. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore scored 12 points in a career-high 40 minutes, as he rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 12.1 per game. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. and freshman guard Josh Adams posted 14 and 12 points, respectively, both career highs. Nance contributes 9.3 points per game and is second on the team at 7.6 rebounds per contest. Adams played a career-high 31 minutes with Riley Grabau limited with a knee injury. Grabau has 24 assists and four turnovers to rank fifth in the nation in assist-turnover ratio at 6.0. Five Cowboys scored in double figures for the first time since 2010.

The duo of senior forward Jackie Carmichael and senior guard Tyler Brown lead the way for the Redbirds. Brown averages 19.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, thanks in part to a team-high 33-of-39 at the free throw line. Carmichael adds 16.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, as he shoots over 59 percent from the field. He is a Missouri Valley Conference Preseason All-Conference selection. Junior guard Bryant Allen rounds out ISU's double figure scorers at 12.1 points and connects on over 42 percent from deep. Redshirt junior forward Jon Ekey adds 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds. Sophomore guard Johnny Hill made his first start of the season at Louisville, while freshman guard Kaza Keane started ISU's first six games and has a team-high 35 assists. Brown posted 25 points and five rebounds at Louisville and Carmichael added 20 points and nine rebounds.

About the Series
The Pokes own a 1-0 advantage in the all-time series with the Redbirds. Wyoming won a 71-48 game on Dec. 28, 1985 in Casper, in the only meeting between the two programs. Fennis Dembo had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists for UW in that game, while Les Bolden added 10 points and four rebounds.

Up Next
Wyoming hosts Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday at 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.