Pokes Vs. Lobos Wednesday 7:00 pm
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team opens the home portion of the Mountain West schedule by hosting New Mexico in the Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT. The Cowboys (9-5, 0-1 MW) are looking to bounce back from a tightly-contest loss at Nevada in their conference opener, while the Lobos (10-3, 1-0 MW) earned a win at Colorado State in their first league game and are currently receiving votes in the national coaches poll.
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 coverage of the game, including live video from ESPN3.com, 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 opened the 2013-14 Mountain West schedule with a tightly-contested 61-58 loss at Nevada last Saturday to drop to 9-5 on the season. Four of UW's five losses have come on the road and three of the four losses have come by less than five points. Against the Wolf Pack, the Pokes traded the lead eight times in the second half, before missing their final shot with two seconds left to suffer their first loss to Nevada in the last nine meetings. A fast-break layup put the Cowboys ahead 58-56 with 1:31 left in the game, but it would prove to be UW's last points. Nevada hit one free throw and a layup on its next two possessions to go in front 59-58 with 32 seconds to go. The Cowboys ran the clock down to two seconds, before a jumper went long and Nevada snagged the rebound. The Wolf Pack would make two free throws to ice the game. Wyoming shot 41 percent (20-of-49) from the field and 35 percent (6-of-17) from the field compared to 46 percent (23-of-50) and 40 percent (6-of-15) for Nevada. The Pokes earned a 6-1 advantage in steals, but were outrebounded 35-26, including 12 offensive boards by the Wolf Pack. For the season, Wyoming's 48.8 percent from the field is second in the Mountain West, while its 38.1 percent from deep is fourth and 68.1 points per game are 11th. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW in scoring defense at 60.9 points per game and fourth in field goal percentage defense at 39.5. UW's 31.1 three-point defense is fifth.
New Mexico and first-year head coach Craig Neal come to Laramie fifth in the Mountain West standings after opening the conference season with an 80-73 win at Colorado State last Saturday. The Lobos were picked to repeat as regular season champions in the preseason media poll and currently own a 10-3 overall record. Against the Rams, New Mexico led 39-31 at halftime and stretched the advantage to as many as 15 in the second half, before CSU cut it to six points with just over a minute to play. That would be as close as the Rams would get, though. The Lobos shot 43 percent (27-of-63) from the floor to just 37 percent (25-of-67) for CSU and both teams shot over 70 percent from the charity stripe. UNM earned a 48-40 advantage in rebounds and 15-7 in assists. On the season, New Mexico's offense scores 77.8 points per game for third in the MW, while shooting 44 percent from the field and 31 percent beyond the arc to rank 10th and 11th in the conference, respectively. Defensively, the Lobos allow 71.1 points for eighth in the league and allow opponents to shoot 39 percent and 34 percent, respectively, for third and ninth in the MW. UNM's plus 7.6 rebounding margin and 14.9 assists both rank third in the MW.
Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. was one of three Cowboys in double figures at Nevada with 14 points and six rebounds. His 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds on the season rank 10th and seventh, respectively, in the MW, while his 56 percent from the field leads the league and ranks 44th in the nation. Junior guard Riley Grabau posted 14 points against the Wolf Pack, as he hit four threes. His 54 percent beyond the arc ranks second in the conference and fourth in the NCAA, as he scores 11.6 points per game and adds 2.4 assists. Sophomore guard Josh Adams notches 2.4 assists as well, in addition to 11.4 points per game. The two have combined for 17 games in double-figure points this season. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. is second on the team and 10th in the MW at 7.0 rebounds, as he adds 6.2 points per game. Senior guard Nathan Sobey contributes 6.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Senior forward Cameron Bairstow's 20.8 points per game and 55 percent from the field both rank second in the MW and 23rd and 57th nationally, but he isn't even New Mexico's most decorated player. Senior guard Kendal Williams was picked to repeat as the MW Player of the Year and currently averages 14.8 points and a league-high 5.3 assists per game, while junior center Alex Kirk was also selected to the preseason All-MW team. Kirk scores 14.8 points per game to go with 9.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He ranks in the top 13 in the MW in each category and 25th in the NCAA in rebounds. Junior guard Hugh Greenwood contributes 4.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, but has missed three games this season, while junior guard Deshawn Delaney made his third start of the season at CSU and averages 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds. Against the Rams, Bairstow posted 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Williams notched 22 points. Kirk had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his ninth double-double this season.
About the Series
Wyoming is tied at 64-64 with New Mexico in the all-time series, but has defeated the Lobos just twice in the last 10 meetings. UNM currently owns a six-game winning streak against the Cowboys, including a 23-38 all-time mark in Laramie. The Lobos won all three meetings with the Pokes last season, including one in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament.
The Cowboys face Boise State on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT in Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho.