Wyoming (17-12) at Utah State (16-13)
GAME NOTES: Wyoming hits the road for the final time in the regular season, as the Cowboys head into battle against the Utah State Aggies in Mountain West Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Cowboys, who suffered a major blow when leading scorer and rebounder Larry Nance Jr. (15.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) saw his season come to an end due to injury, have lost three straight outings and are now just 8-8 in conference play. On the first of the month, Wyoming hosted Boise State and was toppled by the visiting Broncos, 72-63.
While Wyoming still has a meeting against Colorado State at home pending this weekend before the start of the MWC Tournament, this is the last game of the regular season for the Aggies. Utah State would like nothing more to close out the slate on a positive note after having so many ups-and-downs, but nothing is guaranteed.
The squad did manage to bring an end to a four-game slide last Saturday thanks to a 75-58 victory over San Jose State on the road, but that was pretty much expected given how poor the Spartans are this season. Entering play this week, USU is just 6-11 in conference and ninth in the MWC standings.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Cowboys are ahead by nearly a 2-to-1 margin (45-23), scoring a 74-57 blowout in the most recent meeting last month in Laramie.
Without a real threat in the paint at either end of the floor, the Cowboys could not slow down Boise State as they Broncos came away with the nine-point win at Arena Auditorium. Josh Adams managed to score a game-high 29 points, shooting 10-of-20 from the floor, followed by Riley Grabau and Derek Cooke Jr. with 13 and 11 points, respectively, the latter adding a team-best six rebounds as the unit finished with a 31-18 deficit on the glass.
In conference games this season, the Cowboys have been producing just 61.8 ppg, but that also factors in the presence of Nance Jr. who has missed several games now. Without the big man along the front line, the Pokes are left with Adams and Grabau as the primary scoring options with 12.6 and 10.9 ppg, respectively. Grabau leads the group with 34 3-pointers, while Adams is responsible for 46 assists in 15 league outings, but at the same time he has been charged with 43 turnovers.
Jarred Shaw took charge in the paint for the Aggies has he logged a huge double-double with 19 points and 17 rebounds as USU landed back in the win column and provided head coach Stew Morrill with the 600th victory in his career, making him the 14th active coach to reach that plateau. Spencer Butterfield accounted for a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds as he shot 6-of-8 behind the 3-point line, followed by Preston Medlin with 12 points.
Utah State, which held the Spartans to a mere 29.6 percent shooting from the field and 6-of-26 behind the 3-point line, has permitted league foes to put up 68.4 ppg, but that is still 2.4 ppg more than the Aggies have managed to generate. Shaw (13.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg), Butterfield (12.8 ppg) and Medlin (12.1 ppg, 77 assists) have been the driving forces behind the Aggies versus MWC opponents, but the success is simply not there in 2013-14.
The Aggies have been a tough bunch to figure out this season, even though they have been one of the most successful programs in the nation over the last decade. At least the team will have the support of the hometown crowd and that should give Utah State just enough of an edge.
GAME NOTES: Wyoming hits the road for the final time in the regular season, as
the Cowboys head into battle against the Utah State Aggies in Mountain West
Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah.
Television: ROOT-RM. Home Record: Wyoming 13-4, USU 12-5. Away Record: Wyoming
3-8, USU 4-7. Neutral Record: Wyoming 1-0, USU 0-1. Conference Record: Wyoming
8-8, USU 6-11. Series Record: Wyoming leads, 45-23.Game Date and Time
Wednesday, March 5, 10:05 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Utah State 67, Wyoming 58