GAME NOTES: With a successful start to the 2012-13 campaign quickly slipping away, the Wyoming Cowboys are anxious to make a statement in Mountain West Conference play as they host the Nevada Wolf Pack at Arena Auditorium on Wednesday night.
Since winning 13 straight games to open the season, the Cowboys have hit the skids in a big way, claiming victory in only three games afterwards. On Saturday, the team was taken down by Boise State on the road, 68-61, marking its fifth loss in six games and pushing Wyoming to a mere 2-7 in conference play.
As for the Wolf Pack, their transition from the Western Athletic Conference has been less than ideal, winning only three of nine league bouts thus far. However, the team did conquer Air Force last Saturday in a 74-69 final, avenging a 78-65 loss to the Falcons earlier in the season. The triumph snapped a three-game slide by the Wolf Pack.
Wyoming, which won the first meeting of the season in Reno last month, 59-48, has taken seven straight in the all-time series and now leads the Pack by an 8-1 margin overall.
In a game that experienced eight ties and 12 lead changes, the Wolf Pack surged ahead at just the right time last Saturday in order to claim the five- point win at the Lawlor Events Center. Deonte Burton tallied a team-best 22 points, followed by Malik Story with 16 points, but the latter shot only 4- of-15 from the floor, and the pair a mere 3-of-16 out on the perimeter. Kevin Panzer registered a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds as the Pack beat the Falcons on the glass, 40-27.
The only two players to have started every game this season for Nevada, Story (16.4 ppg) and Burton (16.3 ppg) are the most experienced players on the roster and give the Pack their best chance at victory, but it is rare anymore for both of them to have a strong shooting performance in the same game. Jerry Evans checks in with 8.2 ppg and is tops on the unit with 5.9 rpg, which is why his lackluster effort beyond the arc (17-of-62, .274) is tolerated.
The Wyoming offense sputtered out of the gate against the Broncos at Taco Bell Arena, registering just eight made field goals over the first 20 minutes of action before accepting the seven-point defeat. Derrious Gilmore tallied a game-high 26 points as he played all 40 minutes for the Pokes, while Leonard Washington registered a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, to go along with three blocked shots as well. Josh Adams tacked on another 13 points in the losing effort.
Over the course of nine conference outings, Washington has produced 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest, the latter number leading the team, but still the Cowboys are losing the battle on the boards by more than eight per game. Larry Nance Jr. checks in with 7.6 rpg and another 8.5 ppg for a unit that is generating a meager 53.1 ppg.
Scoring points has not been a strength of the Cowboys this season, but their defense is still something to be reckoned with and could well keep Nevada out of the win column yet again this time around.