Dec 17, 2012 - UW Sports InformationLARAMIE - After a 10-day layoff for final exams, the University of Wyoming men's basketball team gets back to the court on Tuesday when the Cowboys host Denver at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The 150th meeting between the two programs features the perfect 10-0 Pokes with a 7-0 home record this season versus the 3-5 Pioneers who are 0-3 on the road, but have won their last two contests.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming has earned some national attention with its 10-0 start to the season, its best since beginning the 1987-88 campaign with an 11-game winning streak. The Pokes are receiving votes in both of today's Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for the first time since 2003. Wyoming has been in two-straight tight contests, but has ended both with impressive runs to take home the victory. In their latest action, the Pokes were tied 49-49 with Oklahoma Panhandle State midway through the second half on Dec. 8, but finished the contest with a 25-6 run for the win. Four Cowboys scored in double figures for the third-consecutive game. Previously, Wyoming trailed Illinois State by 19 early in the second half on Dec. 4, but crafted a 36-7 run over the final 12 minutes for the win. UW's top three point totals in 2012-13 have all come in the last three games. Defensively, the Cowboys lead the Mountain West in scoring defense by allowing 55.3 points per game, rank third in blocked shots at 4.0 and third in field goal percentage defense at 38.0. The Cowboys are third in three-point makes at 7.4 per game and third in field-goal percentage (45.6). UW's plus 4.1 turnover margin and plus 15.1 scoring margin are both second in the MW.
Denver went 22-9 overall last season and 11-5 in the Sun Belt, before joining the WAC during the summer and will join The Summit League after this season. Head coach Joe Scott returned three starters and seven letterwinners from last year, and has started his sixth season at the helm for the Pioneers with a 3-5 record. Six of DU's first eight opponents played in the postseason in 2011-12, though, including NIT champion Stanford and CIT champion Mercer. DU enters Tuesday on a two-game winning streak, after home wins over Mercer (69-40) on Dec. 5 and Nebraska-Omaha (82-47) on Saturday in its most recent action. UNO took an early lead on the Pioneers, but DU closed the first half on a 38-5 run and never looked back for the easy victory. Denver averages 62.4 points per game on 43 percent from the field and 34 percent beyond the arc, but only collects 27.3 rebounds per game. The Pioneers post 14.5 assists per contest and commit just 12.5 turnovers. Defensively, Denver allows 58.4 points per game, as opponents shoot 45 percent from the field and 30 percent beyond the arc. DU earns 7.5 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. The Pioneers have a minus 6.0 rebounding margin, but a plus 3.5 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Leonard Washington paces the way for the Cowboys at 15.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He is one of three MW players to rank in the top 10 of the conference in those three stats. Senior guard Luke Martinez adds 13.5 points per game, thanks to a MW-high 2.8 threes per game, and adds two steals on the defensive end. Fellow senior guard Derrious Gilmore contributes 13.1 points and 2.9 assists from the point, while sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Josh Adams has started the last two games in place of injured sophomore guard Riley Grabau. Adams posts 5.5 points per game, while Grabau ranks third in the nation in assist-turnover ratio at 6.0. Washington posted his fourth double-double of the season in UW's latest action with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Oklahoma Panhandle State. Gilmore posted his second 20-point game of the season with 21 points, thanks to a career-high six threes. Nance added 13 points and seven rebounds and Martinez had 12 points.
Sophomore forward Royce O'Neale paces the Pioneers at 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, thanks to a team-high 40 baskets on the season. Junior forward Chris Udofia is the only other Pioneer to score in double figures at 12.0 per game. He also grabs 5.5 rebounds and has a team-high 19 blocks and 31 assists in 2012-13. Senior guard Chase Hallam adds 9.8 points and 4.4 rebounds to go with nine blocks, while sophomore guard Brett Olson contributes 9.1 points and 1.8 rebounds. Freshman guard Jalen Love made his second start of the season on Saturday against UNO and averages 4.0 points and 1.2 assists. O'Neale, Udofia, Hallam and Olson have started all eight games, while three other Pioneers have rotated as the fifth starter. O'Neale posted 17 points and 10 rebounds against UNO on Saturday, as Udofia added 11 points and a career-high eight assists.
About the Series
Tuesday will be the 150th meeting between Wyoming and Denver, with the Cowboys holding a 100-49 advantage. Recent meetings have been very close, though, as UW has split its last 10 meeting with the Pioneers, 5-5. The home team has won each of the last 10 contests. Wyoming is 63-14 all-time in Laramie against Denver, and the Pioneers haven't won in Laramie since 1998.
Wyoming finishes the 2012 calendar year by hosting UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys defeated the Gauchos, 68-40, in Santa Barbara on Nov. 28 in the previous meeting between the two.
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