Cowboys Open MWC Play At Reno
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team will begin its 15th season in the Mountain West with a trip to Reno to face Nevada on Saturday. The Cowboys (9-4) look to extend a nine-game winning streak over Nevada, while the Wolf Pack (6-8) seek a 2-0 start in conference play behind All-MW guard Deonte Burton. Tip is set for 4 p.m. MT at Lawlor Events Center.
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 and televised by ROOT Sports. Contact your local cable or satellite provider for further channel information.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming closed the non-conference season with a 9-4 record after last Wednesday's 69-52 win over Western State in the Arena-Auditorium. Three of UW's four losses this season have come on the road and two have been to ranked foes. Against the Mountaineers, the Cowboys led by just nine early in the second half, before reeling off a 17-3 run to take control for their first win on New Year's Day since 1946. WSU gave the Pokes a tight contest in the first half and pulled within 36-27 early in the second half, but Wyoming started to work inside. Three layups helped the Pokes open up the outside shot, as two threes put the Pokes up by 23 with 10 minutes left. Wyoming shot 51 percent (25-of-49) for its seventh game this season over 50 percent from the field and connected on 38 percent (8-of-21) from three. The Cowboys posted season highs in bench points (41) and points off turnovers (27), while earning a 28-4 advantage in points in the paint and 32-23 in rebounds. WSU's 52 points were a season low for a UW opponent. For the season, Wyoming's 49.5 percent from the field leads the Mountain West, while its 38.3 percent from deep is fourth and 68.8 points per game are 11th. Defensively, the Cowboys rank second in the MW in scoring defense at 60.9 points per game and third in field goal percentage defense at 39.0. UW's 30.6 three-point defense is fifth.
Head coach David Carter and Nevada were picked ninth in the MW's preseason media poll after returning three starters from a team that went 12-19 overall and 3-13 in conference play last season. The Wolf Pack has started 2013-14 with a 6-8 overall mark, but are just 2-4 at home. Most recently, Nevada opened the conference season with a 62-50 win at San Jose State last Wednesday. The Wolf Pack trailed 26-25 at the half but used a 10-0 run to get the lead for good at 41-35 with 10:32 left in the game and added a three at 5:26 to make it 54-42. It was the only three pointer made in 12 attempts for Nevada. In all six wins the Wolf Pack have trailed at halftime. On the season, Nevada's 75.8 points per game rank sixth in the MW, while the Wolf Pack shoots 45 percent from the field for ninth and 34 percent from deep for seventh. Defensively, Nevada is last in the MW in scoring defense (77.9), field goal percentage defense (47.4) and three-point defense (36.1).
Each Team's Leaders
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. broke his string of three-straight double-doubles with just nine points and three rebounds in a season-low 21 minutes against Western State, but he continues to pace the Pokes. His 16.3 points and 9.4 rebounds on the season rank ninth and sixth, respectively, in the MW, while his 58.8 percent from the field leads the league and ranks 24th in the nation. Junior guard Riley Grabau compliments Nance's inside game with an outside threat. His 55 percent beyond the arc ranks near the top of the conference and the NCAA, as he scores 11.4 points per game and adds a team-high 2.5 assists. He is followed closely by sophomore guard Josh Adams at 11.1 points and 2.2 assists per contest. The two have combined for 15 games in double-figure points this season. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. is second on the team and 10th in the MW at 7.2 rebounds, as he adds 6.2 points per game. Senior guard Nathan Sobey contributes 6.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Preseason All-MW selection Deonte Burton is Nevada's top offensive threat. The senior guard's 22.2 points per game lead the MW and rank ninth in the country, as he posted a season-low 18 points against San Jose State. He leads the MW and NCAA in minutes at 39 per game, while his 3.7 assists rank fourth in the conference. Fellow senior guard Jerry Evans Jr. scores 14.8 per game on 50 percent from the field and adds a team-high 6.1 rebounds, while junior guard Michael Perez contributes 12.0 points and 4.2 rebounds. Sophomore forward Cole Huff rounds out Nevada's four scorers in double figures at 10.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds against SJSU. Junior forward AJ West played in his third game since being declared eligible on Wednesday and posted 15 points with nine rebounds. The junior college transfer averages 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds on the season.
About the Series
Wyoming leads the all-time series with Nevada, 10-1, and currently owns a nine-game winning streak. The Cowboys are 4-0 in Reno. In the last meeting between the two programs, the Pokes earned an 85-81 victory on March 12 in last season's MW tournament. Larry Nance Jr. had 19 points in that game to pace four Cowboys in double figures and Wyoming used a 19-4 run early in the second half to hold off the Wolf Pack down the stretch.
The Cowboys play their first home game of the conference season by hosting New Mexico on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The tip time was moved up when the game was designated to air on ESPN3.