Pokes can move out of conference basement with win over Air Force
* University of Wyoming press release contributed to this report
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys will open a two-game homestand on Friday, hosting the Air Force Falcons in the Arena-Auditorium. The contest is slated for an 8 p.m. start and is the second meeting between the two teams.
To secure your seat in the Arena-Auditorium, purchase your tickets TODAY by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at (307) 766-7220 or visit Gowyo.com/tickets.
The contest on FS1 will feature Tim Neverett on the call and Brian Butch as the color analyst.
Fans can listen to the contest, as well as follow stats on GoWyo.com. The game will be broadcast live on radio over the 26 affiliate stations of the Cowboy Sports Network, as Keith Kelley will have the call with Kevin McKinney on color.
About The Teams
The Cowboys head into the contest with a 8-17 overall record and a 3-10 mark in the MW after earning a 70-56 road win over New Mexico on Tuesday night. Wyoming is averaging 8.7 three-pointers per game on the season for second in the conference and No. 48 in the nation. The Cowboys hit 11 triples in the win over the Lobos, four of which came off the right hand of Hunter Thompson in the first half. Xavier Dusell added three consecutive threes early in the second.
Wyoming is shoot 45 percent from the field this season with opponents shooting 46 percent. The Pokes rank No. 82 in the nation in effective field goal percentage at 53 percent.
Air Force is 13-14 overall and 4-10 in conference play. The Falcons’ also dropped their most-recent game, an 80-65 decision at Utah State. Air Force was picked 11th in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll. Air Force averages 67.2 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting from the field, which includes 35.4 percent accuracy from 3-point range. Falcons’ foes average 67 points per contest on 44.3 percent field-goal percentage and 30.3 percent from deep.
Beau Becker led the offensive charge against the Cowboys inside Clune Arena in mid-January, drilling five 3-pointers and finishing with a team-high 23 points. After a sluggish first half, Air Force shot nearly 53% from the field in the 82-74 victory.
Wyoming was without the services of Colorado Springs native Hunter Maldonado, Brendan Wenzel, Kenny Foster and Thompson in that setback.
"Having four guys back who have a lot of experience, having played against Air Force, I think that's going to help when you got guys that have guarded the 'Princeton offense,'" UW head coach Jeff Linder said Thursday. "They know what it feels like."
About The Players
With Noah Reynolds sidelined for the remainder of the season in concussion protocol, Maldonado has added 14.4 points per game this season to lead the Cowboys. The super senior adds 4.5 rebounds and has 84 assists on the season. He ranks No. 12 in the MW in scoring and adds 16.4 points per game in conference play. He recorded a double-double on Tuesday for the 15th of his career.
Wenzel adds 8.2 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds. He is shooting 43 percent from behind the arc this season. Jeremiah Oden adds 8.1 points per game and 3.5 rebounds.
Thompson averages 7.2 points and leads the team in rebounding at 5.1 per outing. Xavier DuSell also chips in with nearly seven points per game. The junior guard is also connecting on nearly 41% of his shots from beyond the arc.
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Jake Heidbreder undoubtedly leads the Falcons. He’s the only one averaging double figures with 14.5 points per game to go alongside 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per contest. Air Force has five other players chipping in anywhere from 7-9.9 points per game. Rytis Petraitis leads the group with 9.9 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds per contest. Ethan Taylor paces the Falcons with 3.3 assists per game.
"Air Force is going to test your discipline and your ability to sustain effort," Linder said. "Right now, their offense averages per-possession offensively, it's almost at 21 seconds. So, they really challenge you to maintain discipline and maintain order."
About The Series
Wyoming has had its way with Air Force in the all-time series, leading it 82-42. That being said, the two teams have split their last 10 matchups. The Falcons enter Friday night's meeting losers of seven of their last eight. Wyoming can tie Air Force in the Mountain West standings with a win Friday night.
The Cowboys remain at home Tuesday. They play host to Utah State at 7 p.m. inside the Arena-Auditorium. The Aggies took the first matchup, 83-63, in Logan last month.