Dec. 19, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Two of the most prominent Larrys in college basketball will face off on Friday when the University of Wyoming men's basketball team hosts SMU at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. Cowboy head coach Larry Shyatt is in his 40th season as a coach and has back-to-back NCAA Championships to his name, while Mustang head coach Larry Brown is in his 39th season and is the only coach in history to win an NCAA and NBA title. The game has been tabbed "Kenny Sailors Night" to honor the 70th anniversary of UW's 1943 NCAA championship team, of which Sailors is the lone surviving member. He will be honored in a halftime ceremony.
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 and televised by ROOT Sports. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming dropped to 7-3 on the season after a narrow 64-61 loss at Denver last Sunday at Magness Arena. All three of UW's losses this season have come on the road, including to two ranked squads in Colorado and Ohio State. The Pokes are 6-0 in the Arena-Auditorium this season and 29-0 overall in the building under head coach Larry Shyatt in the months of November and December. Against the Pioneers, the Cowboys trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half, before battling back with a 14-4 run to tie the contest at 49-49 with 9:16 to go. The Pokes and Pioneers would be tied five times down the stretch, before DU's Brett Olson hit a jumper with three seconds left and was fouled. He sank the free throw to put Denver up three and UW stepped on the sideline on their ensuing possession to turn the ball over and end the game. The home team has won the last 12 meetings between the Pokes and Pioneers. Wyoming shot 44 percent (22-of-50) from the field, but hit a season-low one of its 10 three-point attempts and allowed Denver to shoot a season-high 52 percent (24-of-46) for a Cowboy opponent. The Pokes hit a season-high 89 percent (16-of-18) at the free throw line. For the season, Wyoming's 49.2 percent from the field leads the Mountain West, its 39.2 percent from deep is fourth and 70.0 points per game are 11th. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW in scoring defense at 61.9 points per game and third in field goal percentage defense at 38.8. UW's 30.3 three-point defense is fourth in the MW.
Head coach Larry Brown went 15-17 in 2012-13, his first season at SMU, but returned all five starters from that squad and added a couple transfers and a high school All-American to this year's team. The Mustangs have started 2013-14 with a 9-2 mark, including 3-2 away from home, and enter Friday with a four-game winning streak. Most recently, SMU earned a dominant 82-56 win over Texas-Pan American last Wednesday in Dallas. The Mustangs led 40-34 at halftime, before outscoring UTPA 42-22 in the second half. SMU held UTPA to 32 percent (20-of-62) from the field and 21 percent (6-of-28) beyond the arc, while shooting over 56 percent (30-of-53) from the field itself. SMU earned assists on 22 of its 30 baskets. For the season, the Mustangs average 76.0 points per game on 51.4 percent from the field and 41.8 percent beyond the arc. SMU leads the newly-formed American Athletic Conference in field goal percentage and rebound margin at +9.5. On defense, the Mustangs hold opponents to 61.7 points on 35.7 percent from the floor and 32.6 percent from deep. SMU paces the AAC and ranks third in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, as it has held nine of 11 opponents this season under 40 percent shooting. SMU was picked to finish sixth in the AAC preseason coaches poll.
Each Team's Leaders
The reigning Mountain West Player of the Week, junior forward Larry Nance Jr. has been dominant for Wyoming the last three games. He guided the Pokes past Black Hills State and South Dakota, before dropping a career-high 38 points against Denver last Sunday. He made 15 of his 21 field goal attempts to set Magness Arena records for points and field goals, while adding 12 rebounds. His 15.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game lead Wyoming. Nance's inside game is complimented by the sharp-shooting Riley Grabau. The junior guard ranks third in the NCAA and first in the MW at 62.2 from three. He scores 13.0 per game and leads UW at 2.5 assists. Sophomore guard Josh Adams uses his slashing ability to round out UW's double-figure scorers at 11.0 points per game and ranks second at 2.4 assists. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 7.7 rebounds are second on the team and ninth in the MW, while senior guard Nathan Sobey rounds out UW's probable starters at 7.7 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Redshirt sophomore guard Nic Moore paces the Mustangs at 14.1 points and 4.6 assists per game, as he shoots a team-high 57.1 percent beyond the arc. Junior center Yanick Moreira is SMU's other scorer in double figures at 10.5 points per contest and a team-high 6.1 rebounds. Redshirt senior guard Nick Russell is second on the squad at 3.9 assists per game and adds 8.3 points. Junior guard Ryan Manuel contributes 6.4 points and 2.3 rebounds, while redshirt senior forward Shawn Williams rounds out SMU's probable starters at 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds.
About the Series
Wyoming owns a 4-2 lead in the all-time series with SMU, including 3-0 in Laramie. In the last meeting between the two, the Cowboys earned a dramatic 59-56 win in Dallas on Jan. 2, 2013. The Mustangs tied the contest at 56-56 with 1:01 to go, before UW's Leonard Washington grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled with 24 seconds left. He made the first free throw and missed the second one, but redeemed himself by stealing an SMU pass on the ensuing possession and throwing down a dunk to put Wyoming up 59-56 with 16 seconds left. The Mustangs would earn one final shot and their long three brushed the net, but didn't go through the rim. The victory gave Wyoming its best start in program history at 13-0.
The Pokes close out the 2013 calendar year by hosting Northern Colorado on Sunday at 4 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.