Pokes Start Conference Play with MW Title-Game Rematch

Dec. 28, 2015


Gameday Central | Game Notes   Get Acrobat Reader

The University of Wyoming men's basketball team opens conference play at San Diego State on Wednesday in what is a rematch of last season's Mountain West tournament title game. The Cowboys (7-6) got the better of the Aztecs (7-6) last March for the conference crown, but now travel to Viejas Arena where they haven't won since 2007. Meanwhile, SDSU enters the contest with one of the top defenses in the nation. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT.

The contest will be televised by CBS Sports Network (Charter: 634, DirecTV: 221) and broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network. Fans can follow live stats and audio of the game through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on GoWYO.com.

A Look at the Matchup
Head coach Larry Shyatt and Wyoming concluded nonconference play with a 94-89 double-overtime loss to Houston last Tuesday in Las Vegas. The Cowboys rallied from 15 down to take a six-point lead in the second half, but the Cougars came back to force a first and second overtime before taking the win. Wyoming shot 39 percent (22-of-57) from the field, 32 percent (9-of-28) from behind the arc and 78 percent (36-of-46) at the free throw-line. It was the most free-throw attempts for the Cowboys this season. The Cougars shot 42 percent (33-of-78) from the field and 25 percent (8-of-32) from the three-point line, while shooting 87 percent (20-of-23) from the free-throw line. The Cowboys outrebounded the Cougars, 47-44, for a season high in rebounds, but committed a season-high 21 turnovers. On the season, Wyoming averages 73.1 points on 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep, while allowing 72.3 points on 42 and 32 percent, respectively. The Cowboys make 9.2 threes per game, which ranks third in the MW and 36th in the NCAA, while their 37 percent from deep is second and 96th. Wyoming's 17.0 fouls per game are second in the conference and 44th nationally.

Head coach Steve Fisher is in his 17th season at San Diego State and has guided the Aztecs to a 7-6 start to 2015-16. Three of those losses have comes to ranked teams, though, including a 70-57 home loss to No. 2/3 Kansas last Tuesday. The Jayhawks led 39-27 at halftime and by as many as 17 points midway through the second half. The Aztecs shot 37 percent (20-of-54) from the field and the same (3-of-8) beyond the arc, while allowing Kansas to hit 43 percent (26-of-61) and 42 percent (8-of-19), respectively. SDSU won the boards, 35-33, but committed six more turnovers. Overall, the Aztecs score 65.0 points per game on 41 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep. Defensively, their 60.2 points allowed per contest leads the MW and is 15th in the nation, while they hold opponents to 36 percent from the field, also first in the MW and fifth in the NCAA, but 35 percent beyond the arc, ninth in the MW. SDSU has a plus 4.2 rebounding margin and minus 1.1 turnover margin.

Each Team's Leaders
Senior guard Josh Adams notched his third-straight 30-point effort with a game-high 34 points against Houston. He is the first Poke to accomplish the feat since Flynn Robinson in 1964-65. Adams' 26.9 points per game lead the MW and rank second in the NCAA, while his 3.3 threes per game are first and 20th, respectively. Junior guard Jason McManamen added a career-high 23 points versus the Cougars, thanks in part to four threes. He averages 12.8 points per contest, as his 42 percent beyond the arc is fifth in the MW. Freshman forward Justin James was UW's other guard against Houston for the second start of his career. He scores 7.8 points per game to go with 2.4 rebounds. Sophomore forward Alan Herndon is Wyoming's top big man at 6.6 points and a team-high 5.2 rebounds. Fellow sophomore forward Jonathan Barnes rounds out the Cowboy probable starters at 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

Freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley paces San Diego State at 13.2 points per game and a team-high 2.3 assists. He had 10 points against Kansas. Senior forward Winston Shepard, a preseason All-MW pick, and redshirt freshman forward Zylan Cheatham both add 8.8 points per game. Cheatham had a team-high 12 points against the Jayhawks and averages a team-high 6.3 boards per game, while Shepard contributes 5.3 rebounds. Senior forward Skylar Spencer's 1.9 blocks per game are second in the conference, as he averages 4.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. Sophomore guard Trey Kell adds 7.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest.

About the Series
The Pokes are 40-37 all-time against San Diego State, but just 11-23 on the road versus the Aztecs. Wyoming hasn't won at Viejas Arena since 2007, a string of seven-straight losses. In their last meeting, though, the Cowboys downed the Aztecs, 45-43, in Las Vegas on March 14 to win the MW tournament title. Larry Nance Jr. had a game-high 14 points and Adams added 10.

Up Next
Wyoming continues MW play on the road at Nevada on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT.