Pokes, Broncos to feature battle of the big men
LARAMIE -- Boise State's front court poses some major problems.
Let me jog your memory.
In last January's two-game set against the visiting Broncos, Abu Kigab and Mladen Armus made lightwork of the undermanned Cowboys, combining to score 58 points and pull down 26 rebounds in a lopsided series sweep.
The second game, one Wyoming played without 6-foot-10 forward Hunter Thompson, who was sidelined with an ankle injury, Boise State rolled to a 90-70 victory. In the opener, however, Jeff Linder's squad cut the lead to five with just 8:19 remaining.
It took a 10-0 run to get to that point, but the home team -- and the 2,000-plus in attendance inside the Arena Auditorium -- seized the momentum.
That is until that troublesome front court got re-involved.
"Armas, I think, got about 87 offensive rebounds in about the last six minutes of that game," Linder joked, adding most of that damage came at the expense of rookie Jeremiah Oden and guard Hunter Maldonado.
Close -- Armas ripped down four. It just seemed worse at such a critical juncture.
The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder from Serbia finished the night with 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass. Kigab netted 21 in that win.
"We won't even look at that game," Linder said of this week's film study.
Wyoming didn't have it's own 6-foot-9, 252-pound nuisance in the paint in those days.
My how the times have changed.
Graham Ike leads the Cowboys in scoring and rebounding, averaging nearly 20 points and 8.4 rebounds per outing. The redshirt freshman has scored in double figures in all 13 of Wyoming's games this season. Five times he's hit double digits in rebounding.
His last three games at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, Ike netted 57 points and 24 boards while leading the Pokes to a 77-57 consolation title victory over South Florida.
Through 14 games this season, Kigab leads the Broncos (10-4, 1-0) in scoring, averaging 14.2 points a night. Armus is the team's leader in nightly rebounds with 8.5. Boise State, which is on a current seven-game winning streak, ranks 12th in the nation in rebounding, averaging nearly 38 a game.
Unlike last season's meetings, the Cowboys (11-2) also now have the services of 6-foot-10, 229-pound Eoin Nelson. Oden, well, he's not the undersized true freshman he was a year ago. The 6-foot-8, 201-point forward is averaging nearly nine points per game to go along with five rebounds.
"I mean, I'll sleep a little bit better," Linder said of having his own front court in tact for Saturday's meeting in Laramie. "... "I mean, that's just two completely different teams, but it'll be a challenge. I mean, Armus, with his size, is a good defender. He knows how to wall up and get underneath guys. It'll be a good test."
Tipoff in Laramie is set for 2 p.m. MT.
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