Tall task awaits Pokes tonight in No. 7 San Diego State
LARAMIE -- You may have heard -- the No. 7 team in the country is in town to play the Wyoming Cowboys tonight.
San Diego State and its perfect 15-0 record will hit the court inside the Arena-Auditorium at 7 p.m. This, by far, is the biggest test to date for Allen Edwards and Co. In fact, ESPN says the Pokes are 16-point underdogs. The sports site is giving the Aztecs a 95.6 percent chance of winning this one.
- San Diego State averages 75.7 points per game, compared to just 60.4 for the Cowboys.
- The Aztecs defense allows just 56.8 points per game. Wyoming gives up 66.1.
- Nathan Mensah leads the visitors with 6.8 rebounds per game. SDSU pulls down an average of 38.2 boards per game. Wyoming just 30.1.
- Malachi Flynn dishes out 5.1 assists per game by himself. The Aztecs average nearly 16 assists per outing. The Cowboys, led by Hunter Maldonado, manage just 10.
- Here's a big one: SDSU averages 11 turnovers per game. Wyoming, 13.8. That doesn't seem like a big difference until you look at just how many times that is: SDSU 170, UW 221.
- How about another glaring statistic: SDSU pulls down 11.13 offensive rebounds per outing. That's 167 total. Avert your eyes for this one -- Wyoming is dead-last in the nation -- No. 350 -- in this category, snagging just four off the offensive glass per game. That's 70 total. Ouch.
So, what does it all mean? The Cowboys are giving the ball away at an alarming rate while the Aztecs hold an advantage of nearly 100 on the offensive glass. In other words, giving themselves more chances to score.
San Diego State is coming off an impressive 77-68 road win Saturday over Utah State (13-5). Flynn poured in a team-high 22 points. Matt Mitchell added 19. The Aztecs are 4-0 in Mountain West Conference play.
Wyoming (5-11, 0-4), on the other hand, is limping in on a two-game losing streak, the latest a 72-61 setback against Border War rival Colorado State last Saturday in Fort Collins.
San Diego State holds a slim 42-41 lead in the overall series between these two conference foes. The Cowboys have beaten the Aztecs three times when the visitors have been ranked in the Top 25, including the last two in Laramie in 2012 and 2014.
Maldo's the man
Maldonado does it all. He leads the Cowboys in scoring (18.1 points per game), rebounding (5.6) and assists (3.5). The sophomore's point total is good enough for second in the conference. Maldonado has led the Pokes in scoring in 11-of-16 games this season. Wyoming is 2-9 when he leads the charge.