Wyoming Basketball: Cowboys Back Home to Host UNLV on Saturday

Wyo bucking bronc largeLARAMIE, Wyo. (Feb. 22, 2013) – Continuing play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team faces another tough Mountain West challenge this weekend when the Cowboys host UNLV on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (18-8, 4-8 MW) upset the Runnin’ Rebels (20-7, 7-5 MW) by two points last season in Laramie, and face a UNLV squad that is third in the conference this season but just 1-5 on the road in MW action.

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 and live audio 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 and televised by Time Warner Cable SportsNet, which is available on DirecTV channel 691.

A Look at the Matchup

Wyoming dropped a 79-51 game at San Diego State last Tuesday to fall to 18-8 overall and 4-8 in the MW for seventh in the league standings. The Aztecs jumped all over the Cowboys to shoot 68 percent from the field, their highest mark since 2006, and post 79 total points, the most UW has surrendered in Shyatt’s second stint as head coach. SDSU used a 23-1 run in the first half to take control and led by as much as 31 late in the second half to hand Wyoming its worst margin of defeat this season. Aside from Tuesday, defense has been a strength for the Pokes this season. Wyoming ranks first in the MW and eighth in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 56.2 points per game. UW has allowed MW opponents to shoot just 30 percent beyond the arc, fourth in the league, and also ranks the same in blocks per game at 3.9. Wyoming is eighth in the league in scoring at 61.7 points, though, as four of its lowest point totals of the season have come in MW play. Its plus 2.4 turnover margin leads the MW, while its 14.9 personal fouls per game are 18th in the NCAA.

Head coach Dave Rice and UNLV visit Laramie with a 20-7 overall mark and 7-5 in the league for third in the standings. UNLV is 6-0 at home in conference play this season, but just 1-5 away from the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels have won their last two contests, 72-70 over San Diego State on Feb. 16 and 61-59 over No. 22/21 Colorado State last Wednesday, with both coming at home by two points. UNLV traded baskets with the Rams several times over the last three minutes, before hitting the game winner with seven seconds left. The Rebels are one of the more balanced teams in the MW. Offensively, they rank third in the conference in scoring offense at 72.9 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 33 percent beyond the arc. Their field goal percentage ranks fifth in the MW, while their 17.0 assists per game are first in the MW and sixth in the NCAA. On the defensive end, UNLV is second in the league and 26th in the nation in field goal defense at 38 percent and first in the MW and 17th nationally in three-point defense at 29 percent. UNLV’s 5.7 blocks per game lead the MW and rank 13th in the NCAA.

Each Team’s Leaders

Senior forward Leonard Washington has posted three-straight double-doubles, but missed Wyoming’s last game with an ankle injury. He is the first Cowboy to accomplish the feat since Justin Williams in 2005-06. Washington’s 13.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 steals all lead the Cowboys and rank in the top 10 of the MW stats. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore led UW with 15 points against the Aztecs for his 18th game in double figures this season, trailing only Washington’s 20. Gilmore leads the league during MW play in threes per game (2.5) and ranks third in three percentage (37.5). Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. played against SDSU despite flu-like symptoms and receiving an IV before the game. He averages 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds on the season. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau is second on the team with 2.5 assists and adds 5.4 points, while freshman guard Josh Adams averages 6.4 points and 1.5 assists on the season.

Freshman sensation Anthony Bennett leads the way for the Rebels at 17.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The forward ranks second in the MW in points and fifth in rebounds, while his 54 percent from the field is second in the conference and 45th in the NCAA. Senior guard Anthony Marshall also scores in double figures at 10.3 points, to go with 3.9 rebounds and a league-high 5.9 assists that rank 23rd in the nation. His plus 2.1 assist-turnover ratio is third in the MW. Freshman guard Katin Reinhardt rounds out UNLV’s double-figure scorers at 10.1 points to go with 2.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Sophomore forward Khem Birch adds 7.9 points and 5.9 rebounds and leads the team with 47 blocks, while sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones averages 9.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. Reinhardt and Dejean-Jones both scored 15 against CSU and Marshall added 11 points.

About the Series

The Rebels own a 31-15 lead in the all-time series with Wyoming, including an 8-2 advantage in the last 10 meetings. Wyoming is 12-8 against UNLV in Laramie, though, including a 68-66 upset of the then-No. 11/13 Rebels last season on Feb. 4. The victory was Wyoming’s first over a ranked foe since 2002.

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