Jan 1, 2013 - UW Sports InformationLARAMIE - The University of Wyoming men's basketball team starts the 2013 calendar year on the road with a trip to face SMU on Wednesday. The Pokes have tied the best start in program history with a 12-0 record this season and are receiving votes in both polls, but the Mustangs will be a challenge for the Cowboys. Renowned head coach Larry Brown has turned around the SMU program with a 10-4 start to his first season at the helm, including a 5-0 mark at home. Tip is set for 6 p.m. MT at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming has earned national attention with its 12-0 start to the season, as the Pokes have tied the 1950-51 team for the program's best start ever. The Cowboys are receiving votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for the first time since 2003. In their latest action, the Pokes earned another hard-fought 56-40 win over UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 21 in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys led the Gauchos by just one at halftime, but outscored them 32-17 in the second half. UW has outscored opponents 464-324 in the second half this season and has yet to be outscored in the frame. Wyoming's offense averages 69.2 points per game on 46 percent from the field, 34 percent beyond the arc and 76 percent at the free throw line. UW's field goal percentage ranks third in the Mountain West, while its free throw percentage is second. Defensively, the Cowboys lead the conference and rank eighth in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 54.5 points per game, while placing fourth in the MW in field goal percentage defense at 38.9. UW's plus 3.5 turnover margin and plus 14.8 scoring margin are both second in the Mountain West.
Head coach Larry Brown took over the reins at SMU during the offseason and has helped turn the program around. The Mustangs went 13-19 overall and 4-12 in Conference USA during 2011-12, but have started this season with a 10-4 mark. SMU raced out to an 8-1 mark, including impressive wins at TCU (64-61) and at home against Utah (62-55), but is just 2-3 in its last five contests. The Mustangs are 5-0 at home this season and four of the five wins have come by double digits. In its latest action, SMU claimed a 72-53 home win over Furman on Sunday afternoon. The Mustangs led 38-23 at halftime and never trailed in the game. On the offensive end of the ball, SMU averages 66.2 points per game on 44 percent from the field, 40 percent beyond the arc and 75 percent at the free throw line. The Mustangs average 34.5 rebounds for a plus 3.9 rebounding margin and add 11.5 assists. Defensively, SMU allows 60.4 points per game on 38 percent from the field, 32 percent beyond the arc and 70 percent at the free throw line. The Mustangs average 3.6 blocks per game, but have a minus 0.4 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior forward Leonard Washington paces the way for the Cowboys at 14.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He is one of three MW players to rank in the top 10 of the conference in all three categories. He posted his fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds against UC Santa Barbara in UW's latest action. Senior guard Luke Martinez (NOTE: Coach Shyatt has announced that Martinez is out indefinitely due to a hand injury sustained in an off-court incident) compliments Washington's inside presence with the ability to hit shots from deep. Martinez ranks second in the MW at 2.9 threes per game and 42.2 percent beyond the arc, while also adding 2.0 steals on the defensive end. Fellow senior guard Derrious Gilmore hits 2.1 threes per game for seventh in the MW and averages 12.5 points per game to go with 2.9 assists. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 11.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Josh Adams and sophomore guard Riley Grabau have split time the last four games, while Grabau has been recovering from a knee injury. Adams averages 5.3 points and 1.5 assists to 5.1 points and 2.6 assists for Grabau.
Sophomore guard Jalen Jones is the top Mustang at 15.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, thanks to 47 percent from the field. He is also second with 20 steals and 14 blocks. Redshirt junior guard Nick Russell adds 14.0 points and 3.2 rebounds to go with a team-high 4.3 assists per game, while sophomore guard Ryan Manuel rounds out SMU's double-figure scorers at 12.2 points and 2.7 assists. Sophomore center Cannen Cunningham and redshirt junior forward Shawn Williams are SMU's inside presence. Cunningham averages a team-high 1.4 blocks to go with 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds, while Williams contributes 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds. Four Mustangs scored in double figures against Furman, including 20 from freshman guard Brian Bernardi off the bench. SMU has used the same starting lineup in all 14 contests this season.
About the Series
The Pokes own a 3-2 lead in the all-time series with SMU, but all three wins have come in Laramie. Wyoming is 0-2 in Dallas with its last trip ending in a 75-72 loss on Feb. 13, 1999. The last meeting between the two programs was a 75-69 home win for Wyoming on Dec. 22, 2005.
Wyoming opens the 2013 Mountain West season by hosting Boise State at 8 p.m. on Jan. 9 in the Arena-Auditorium.
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