Dec. 15, 2011
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team continues its home-friendly start to the 2011-12 season by hosting the University of Sioux Falls on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (10-1) are off to their best start since the 1987-88 season, and now face the NCAA Division II Cougars (3-6), before hitting the road for their next three games.
Tickets to all UW 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
Riding the strength of an eight-game winning streak, the Cowboys own the best record in the Mountain West at 10-1. Wyoming is a perfect 9-0 in the Arena-Auditorium this season, including a 58-48 win over a scrappy UC Irvine squad on Tuesday in its most recent action. All 10 of UW's wins have been by at least 10 points, including three wins by at least 30 points. A win against Sioux Falls would give the Cowboys their longest winning streak since the 2002-03 season and give Larry Shyatt his 100th career victory as a head coach.
The Cowboys' defense continues to be the catalyst for its wins and one of the best in the nation. Wyoming entered the week leading the NCAA in three-point field goal percentage defense at 22.5, while also ranking third in scoring defense at 49.9 points per game and 10th in field goal percentage defense at 35.7. All three marks lead the Mountain West. Wyoming held UC Irvine to 37.7 percent (20-of-53) from the floor, the sixth consecutive game UW's opponent has shot under 40 percent. No Anteaters reached double figures in points.
An NAIA power, Sioux Falls made the move to NCAA Division II this season and will compete in the Northern Sun Conference starting next year. Head coach Chris Johnson led the Cougars to a 24-9 overall mark and appearance in the NAIA National Tournament last season, but returns just two starters and eight letterwinners from that squad. USF is 3-6 so far in 2011-12 with a two-game winning streak and their most recent loss coming in overtime. The Cougars earned a 77-33 win over Crown last Saturday in their second home game on the season. USF is allowing 69.7 points per game on 44.5 percent from the floor for opponents. Nine Cougars have started at least once for a USF squad that is shooting just 23.7 percent beyond the arc. Sioux Falls has a plus 4.9 rebounding margin, but a minus 2.1 turnover margin. Friday will be USF's second meeting ever with a Division I opponent. Sioux Falls lost a 72-48 game at No. 25 Utah on Dec. 17, 1999.
Each Team's Leaders
Redshirt junior Luke Martinez continues to pace the Cowboys at 13.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. The sharp-shooting guard is hitting 46 percent (29-of-65) of his three-point attempts for fourth in the MW and leads the conference at 2.9 treys per game. Fellow redshirt junior Leonard Washington ranks in the top 10 of the MW in four different categories from his forward position. He leads the league in field goal percentage (60.0) and blocks per game (1.1), while scoring 11.4 points and grabbing 6.3 rebounds. Senior guard Francisco Cruz is scoring 12.1 points and grabbing 3.5 rebounds per game, while senior center Adam Waddell rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 10.3 points per contest. Senior guard JayDee Luster entered the week leading the nation in assist-turnover ratio at 4.7 and posted a career-high 18 points versus UC Irvine. Martinez added 13 points and four steals against the Anteaters.
Senior center Skyler Bloch is the only Cougar averaging double figures. He is scoring 14.2 points and pulling in a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 51 percent from the floor. Sophomore guard Derek Brown is contributing 9.3 points and 1.4 assists per game compared to 7.1 points and 2.7 rebounds for junior forward James Rader. Junior guard AJ Holland leads the team with 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game to go with 3.3 points and 3.4 rebounds, while junior forward David Maxwell rounds out USF's probable starters at 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Nine Cougars have started at least one game this season and 16 have seen playing time. Brown scored 13 points against Crown and Bloch and Bretson McNeal added 10 each.
About the Series
Friday's meeting of the Cowboys and Cougars will be the first between the two programs.
Wyoming embarks on its longest road trip of the 2011-12 season next. The Cowboys square off with Denver at 6 p.m. on Monday, before traveling to Idaho State on Dec. 22 at 7:05 p.m. UW starts the New Year at Utah Valley on Jan. 3 at 7:05 p.m.