Wyoming Faces Top-Seeded New Mexico at MW Tournament
March 13, 2013
LAS VEGAS -
After an exciting first-round victory over Nevada yesterday, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team continues play at the 2013 Reese's Mountain West Basketball Championships in Las Vegas against top-seeded New Mexico (26-5, 13-3) in the quarterfinals. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. MT today in the Thomas & Mack Center. The eighth-seeded Cowboys (19-12, 4-12) topped the Wolf Pack (12-19, 3-13), 85-81, last night to break a four-game losing streak in MW tournament play.
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 CBS Sports Network. Check your cable or satellite provider for channel info.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming is 19-12 on the season after an 85-81 victory over Nevada in yesterday's first round. The win broke a four-game losing streak in MW tournament play for the Pokes and gave them their first win since a 75-67 victory over New Mexico during the 2009 tournament. After trailing the Wolf Pack by four at halftime, the Pokes opened the second half with a 19-4 run to build a double-digit lead and held off Nevada down the stretch. The Pokes' run came courtesy of a 9-of-11 start to the second half, while holding Nevada to zero of its first six. UW's defense has been its strength this season, allowing just 58.4 points per game for first in the MW and 18th in the NCAA, but the Cowboys have allowed more than 70 in four of their last six games. Four of those six 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 61.1 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 2.2, 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.
The MW Coach of the Year, Steve Alford brings New Mexico to the MW tournament with a 26-5 record, after winning the conference with a 13-3 mark. The Lobos ended the regular season with an 89-88 loss at Air Force last Saturday, though, as the Falcons hit a three with 3.5 seconds left. The game was a back-and-forth sprint that featured 10 ties and seven lead changes, with the teams combining for a conference-record 30 three-pointers. Air Force was 15 of 31 from three-point range, with New Mexico going 15 for 33. The Lobos are also a team that is predicated on defense, ranking fourth in scoring defense at 61.4 points per game. UNM is third in field goal defense at 39.4 and first during MW play at 38.5, but eight in three-point defense at 35.2. Offensively, the Lobos averaged 68.1 points for sixth in the conference and rank seventh in field goal percentage at 42.5. New Mexico's plus 2.3 rebounding margin is fifth and 14.6 assists are third.
Each Team's Leaders
After ending the regular season with the injury bug, senior forward Leonard Washington bounced back with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals against the Wolf Pack. He paces the Pokes at 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals per game, all of which rank in the top 12 of the MW stats. He was named to the All-MW Third Team and All-Defensive Team on Monday. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore also scores in double figures at 11.9 points and a team-high 2.8 assists per game, including a career-high eight against Nevada. He has worked his way into UW's top six 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 10.0 points and nearly one block per game. He posted a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds against the Wolf Pack. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau averages 2.6 assists and adds 6.0 points, while freshman guard Josh Adams contributes 6.4 points and is known for making big plays in key moments for Wyoming. Adams was one of four Pokes to score in double figures against Nevada.
MW Player of the Year Kendall Williams leads the Lobos at 14.0 points and 4.8 assists per game. The junior guard ranks second in the MW in assists and sixth at the free throw line at 78 percent. Sophomore center Alex Kirk was named to the All-MW Second Team and All-Defensive Team and averages 12.1 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds. Junior guard Tony Snell is UNM's other double-digit scorer at 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He is second in the MW at the free throw line with 85 percent. Sophomore guard Hugh Greenwood averages 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while junior forward Cameron Bairstow rounds out UNM's probable starters at 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds. Williams and Snell both scored 21 against the Falcons, while Kirk added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
About the Series
The Pokes own a slight 64-63 lead in the all-time series with New Mexico, but have lost five straight to the Lobos. Wyoming is just 2-8 in the last 10 meetings against UNM, with its last win in the series coming in 2011. Tuesday is the second meeting between the two in the MW tournament.
A victory in today's quarterfinals would see Wyoming face No. 4 San Diego State or No. 5 Boise State on Friday at 7 p.m. MT in the semifinals. The Pokes went 0-2 versus the Broncos and 1-1 against the Aztecs during the regular season.