Cowboys Look to Ground Falcons on Wednesday

By: Beverly & Pack

The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team will seek its first win of the Mountain West season when the Cowboys (7-8, 0-2) host Air Force on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Falcons (10-4, 1-0) have taken five of the last six meetings, though, including three straight in the Dome of Doom since the return of head coach Larry Shyatt in 2011.

A Look at the Match-Up

Wyoming is tied for 10th in the conference standings at 7-8 overall and 0-2 in the league after a four-game road trip. The Pokes were the only team in the MW to start with two road games and play four of their first six away from home. Most recently, the Cowboys lost a 71-68 contest at Nevada last Saturday. After trailing by eight with five minutes left, Wyoming sparked a comeback with three threes to pull within one at 65-64 with 44 seconds remaining. The Wolf Pack would respond with a three of their own with 20 seconds left to extend the lead back to four and forced a late Pokes turnover for the win.

For the game, Wyoming hit 39 percent (19-of-49) from the field, 48 percent (10-of-21) beyond the arc and 71 percent (20-of-28) at the charity stripe. Nevada connected on 44 percent (24-of-55), 46 percent (5-of-11) and 78 percent (18-of-23), respectively. The Cowboys out-rebounded the Wolf Pack, 37-33, to win the rebounding margin for just the fourth time this season, but committed 17 turnovers to just 11. On the season, Wyoming averages 71.4 points on 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from deep, while allowing 71.9 points on 42 and 32 percent, respectively. The Cowboys make 9.0 threes per game, which ranks third in the MW and 37th in the NCAA, while their 36 percent from deep is second and 89th. Likewise, their 75 percent at the free-throw line is first and 26th, respectively. Wyoming’s 17.5 fouls per game are second in the conference and 54th nationally.

Fourth-year head coach Dave Pilipovich has Air Force off to a 10-4 start overall, including 1-0 in the MW, for third in the league. The Falcons’ 10 wins currently tie for the most in the league, while their four-game winning streak is the second-longest active MW streak. Most recently, Air Force opened conference play with a 64-57 home win over San Jose State last Saturday. The Falcons took control of the game midway through the first half, but had to hang down the stretch. Air Force took a 28-19 halftime lead, but San Jose State cut the lead to nine, 41-32, with 13:20 to play.

The Spartans got as close as five, 60-55, with 23 seconds left, but the Falcons put the game away hitting four-straight free throws. Air Force hit 83 percent from the line in the game on 25-of-30 shooting, including hitting 14 of its last 16 and six of the last eight in the final 3:17. Air Force also out-rebounded San Jose State, 37-35, and forced 20 turnovers. Air Force finished the game hitting 35 percent (17-of-49) from the field while holding San Jose State to just 37 percent (18-of-49). Overall, Air Force scores 71.8 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc. Defensively the Falcon’s allow opponents to hit 41 percent from the field for third in the MW and 32 percent beyond the arc for first in the conference and 81st in the nation. Air Force has a plus 0.1 rebounding margin and plus 1.1 turnover margin.

Each Team’s Leaders

Senior guard Josh Adams was back to his old ways with 26 points at Nevada. His 26.1 points per game are first in the MW and third in the NCAA, while his 3.1 threes per game are first and 25th, respectively. He also paces the Pokes at 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest. Sophomore forward Alan Herndon tallied 13 points versus the Wolf Pack thanks to a career-high three triples, as he averages 7.1 points and 4.9 boards per game.

Junior guard Jason McManamen is the other Cowboy to average double figures at 12.1 points per game. His 41 percent beyond the arc is third in the MW, while his 2.2 makes per game are fifth. Red-shirt sophomore guard Trey Washington III was Wyoming’s other guard against Nevada for his fourth start of the season. He contributes 3.0 points and 1.4 assists. Sophomore forward Jonathan Barnes rounds out the Cowboy probable starters at 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

Junior forward Hayden Graham leads the Falcons at 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He is seventh in the MW in scoring and fourth in boards, while his 54 percent from the field is third and his 35.7 minutes per game trail only Adams’ 37.4. He had 15 points against the Spartans. Sophomore guard Trevor Lyons matched his career high with 22 points versus SJSU, including 18 in the second half, as he averages 14.9 points and a team-high 3.5 assists per game. He is 10th in the MW in points, while his 2.0 steals are second. Senior center Zach Moer is Air Force’s other double-digit scorer at 10.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. Junior guard Zach Kocur is right behind him at 9.2 points and 4.8 boards. Junior forward Kyle Broekhuis is the other Falcon probable starter at 5.5 points and 3.6 rebounds.

About the Series

The Pokes lead the Falcons in the all-time series, 74-35, including 38-14 in Laramie, but Shyatt is 4-5 against Air Force and 0-3 at home since returning in 2011. In fact, the Falcons have been victorious in five of the last six meetings. In the last game between the two, Wyoming lost a 73-50 contest at Air Force on Feb. 7, 2015. Josh Adams finished with 11 points and Jason McManamen had 10, as Larry Nance Jr. and Alan Herndon missed the game with mono.