LARAMIE, Wyo. (March 10, 2013) – The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team opens postseason play this week at the 2013 Reese’s Mountain West Basketball Championships in Las Vegas. The eighth-seeded Cowboys (18-12, 4-12) face ninth-seeded Nevada (12-18, 3-13) in the first round on Tuesday at 6 p.m. MT. The Pokes swept both regular-season meetings with the Wolf Pack, winning both by double digits, and have won eight straight in the series.
Fans can follow live stats, live audio and live video 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.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming finished eighth in the MW standings at 18-12 overall and 4-12 in conference play, after ending the regular season on a five-game losing streak. In their latest action, the Pokes suffered a 78-56 loss to rival Colorado State last Wednesday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Rams led 47-32 at halftime and extended the lead to as many as 25 late in the second half. UW’s defense has been its strength this season, allowing just 57.6 points per game for first in the MW and 18th in the NCAA, but the Cowboys have allowed more than 70 in three of their last five games. Four of those five opponents have also shot over 50 percent from the field, including two better than 60 percent. The Pokes have forced foes off the three-point line, though, ranking second in the league during MW play in three-point defense at 28.6. Offensively, Wyoming is eighth in the MW in points at 60.3 per game, as five of its lowest point totals of the season have come in conference play. UW’s 6.6 threes per game are third in the MW, though. The Cowboys lead the league in turnover margin at plus 2.3, as their 11.1 turnovers per game rank 27th in the NCAA. UW’s 15.0 personal fouls per game are 19th in the nation.
Head coach David Carter and Nevada finished the regular season at 12-18 overall and 3-13 in conference play for ninth in the MW standings. The Wolf Pack has lost seven-straight games, which started with a 68-48 defeat in Laramie on Feb. 13. Like Wyoming, Nevada has not played a game on a neutral court this season. Most recently, Nevada fell 77-66 at Colorado State last Saturday. The Rams controlled the game from start to finish and never trailed. CSU utilized a 15-4 run midway through the first half to extend their lead to 15 points and by the beginning of the second half, the lead was up to 20 points. The Wolf Pack offense ranks seventh in the MW at 67.0 points per game, eighth in field goal percentage at 42 percent and ninth in three-point percentage at 30 percent. Nevada ranks second in the league and 42nd in the NCAA in free throw percentage at 73 percent. On the defensive end, the Wolf Pack allows 71.5 points per game for ninth in the MW. Nevada is also ninth in field goal percentage defense at 45 percent and ninth in three-point field goal defense at 37 percent. Nevada’s minus 0.1 turnover margin is eighth and its 0.9 assist-turnover ratio is eighth in the conference.
Each Team’s Leaders
The Cowboys’ struggles over the last five games have been in part due to senior forward Leonard Washington missing time with ankle and back injuries. He missed two games, returned with 15 points and 13 rebounds at Air Force on Feb. 26, but has been limited in the last two games. Washington paces the Pokes at 13.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, all of which rank in the top 12 of the MW stats. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore is UW’s other scorer in double figures at 11.8 points and a team-high 2.7 assists per game. He has worked his way into UW’s top seven in single-season history for threes made, as he shoots 36 percent beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. is second on the team at 6.9 rebounds to go with 9.7 points and nearly one block per game. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau averages 2.6 assists and adds 5.9 points, including 10 treys in the last three games, while freshman guard Josh Adams contributes 6.3 points and is known for making big plays in key moments for Wyoming. Nance posted a team-high 16 points and five rebounds against Colorado State, while Gilmore added 12 points and four assists.
Preseason All-MW selection Deonte Burton is Nevada’s best player at 15.9 points and team highs of 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. The junior guard ranks sixth in the MW in points, fourth in steals and sixth in assists. Senior Malik Story gives Nevada one of the best guard duos in the MW at 16.6 points, 2.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds. He ranks fourth in the MW in points, second in threes per game at 2.6 and fifth in three-point percentage at 35. The duo are the only Wolf Pack players to start all 30 games. Junior forward Kevin Panzer averages 4.9 points and 4.4 rebounds on the season. Freshman forward Cole Huff and freshman guard Marqueze Coleman round out Nevada’s probable starters at 4.2 points per game each. Huff has started 13 games this season, while Coleman made his first of the season against Colorado State. Burton posted 27 points against the Rams, while Story added 14 and Coleman had 12.
About the Series
The Pokes own an 9-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Wolf Pack, including an eight-game winning streak. Wyoming earned a 59-48 victory in Reno on Jan. 12 and a 68-48 win in Laramie on Feb. 13 in its two meetings with Nevada this season. This is the first meeting between the two on a neutral floor and first in the MW tournament.
A victory on Tuesday would pit Wyoming against No. 1 seed New Mexico on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. MT. The Pokes went 0-2 versus the Lobos during the regular season.