Dec. 21, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
After suffering back-to-back non-conference losses for the first time ever under fourth-year head coach Larry Shyatt, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team looks to get back in the win column when the Cowboys host Northern Colorado on Sunday at 4 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (7-4) are coming off hard-fought losses at Denver and at home to SMU, while the Bears (6-2) come to Laramie riding a four-game winning streak.
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.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming dropped to 7-4 on the season after a physical 64-52 loss to SMU last Friday in the Arena-Auditorium. The defeat was UW's first at home in the month of December under fourth-year head coach Larry Shyatt and gave the Pokes back-to-back non-conference losses for the first time under Shyatt. Two of UW's four losses have come to teams currently ranked in the nation's top 25. Against SMU, the Cowboys held a late lead, but the Mustangs closed the game with an 11-2 run to claim the victory. UW went on a 7-2 run to go up 52-51 with four minutes left, but SMU responded with a 7-0 surge of its own to go in front six with just under a minute left. Wyoming could only muster two free throws down the stretch. The Pokes shot a season-low 34 percent (16-of-46) from the field and hit just 26 percent (6-of-23) beyond the arc. UW's 23 three attempts were a season high, while its 16 field goals were a season low. SMU connected on 45 percent (25-of-55) from the field but just two of its seven three-point attempts. The Mustangs earned a season-high 34 points in the paint for a UW opponent and outrebounded the Pokes 39-29. For the season, Wyoming's 47.9 percent from the field is second in the Mountain West, its 37.6 percent from deep is fourth and 68.5 points per game are 11th. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW in scoring defense at 61.9 points per game and fourth in field goal percentage defense at 39.4. UW's 30.3 three-point defense is fourth.
Fourth-year head coach B.J. Hill returned all five starters from a season ago and has Northern Colorado out to 6-2 start to 2013-14. The Bears started the season with a big 60-58 win at Kansas State, while their two losses have both come on the road by single digits. Most recently, UNC earned a 63-60 win over UC Riverside on Dec. 16 for its sixth-straight home win. UCR trailed 29-26 at halftime, but battled back for a 60-56 lead with 3:12 left in the game. That would be the Highlanders last field goal, though, as the Bears scored the final seven points of the game thanks to key turnovers by UCR to earn the come-from-behind victory. The Bears outshot the Highlanders 45 percent (24-of-53) to 41 percent (21-of-51). Both were nearly identical in the rebounding column as UCR brought down 32 compared to UNC's 31. The Bears converted 11 offensive rebounds into 12 points while the Highlanders scored nine off of 10 offensive boards. On the season, Northern Colorado scores 74.6 points on 48 percent from the field and 39 percent beyond the arc, while holding opponents to 64.8 points on 39 and 30 percent, respectively. UNC owns a plus 3.5 rebounding margin for the year.
Each Team's Leaders
The reigning Mountain West Player of the Week, junior forward Larry Nance Jr. has been dominant for Wyoming the last four games. Over that span, he has averaged 23.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, while shooting 67 percent from the field, in addition to two-straight double-doubles. His 15.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 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 second in the MW at 59.2 from three. He scores 12.3 per game and runs the point at 2.3 assists. Sophomore guard Josh Adams also adds 2.3 assists, in addition to 10.9 points per game. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr.'s 7.4 rebounds are second on the team and 10th in the MW, while senior guard Nathan Sobey adds 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds.
The Bears are paced by senior forward Derrick Barden at 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, as he shoots 55 percent from the field and 46 percent beyond the arc. He posted 14 points against UC Riverside, while senior guard Tate Unruh notched the second double-double of his career with 24 points and 10 rebounds to earn Big Sky Co-Player of the Week. Unruh averages 12.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Junior guard Tevin Svihovec contributes 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds thanks to 35 free throws on the season. Svihovec and junior guard Corey Spence both dish out a team-high 2.5 assists per game, as Spence adds 3.6 points. Senior center Connor Osborne rounds out UNC's probable starters at 4.0 points and 4.5 rebounds.
About the Series
Wyoming leads Northern Colorado, 52-19, in the all-time series and have a 31-7 advantage in Laramie. The Bears earned a 67-53 victory in Greeley in 2010 to break a 21-game winning streak in the series for the Cowboys, but UW has bounced back with wins in the last two seasons against UNC. In the last meeting between the two programs, The Pokes earned a 69-60 win in Greeley on Nov. 21, 2012. Guard Derrious Gilmore scored a career-high 24 points in that game, including 13 of UW's final 15 points at the free throw line.
The Cowboys begin 2014 by hosting Western State on New Year's Day at 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.