GAME NOTES: Closing out the regular season on Wednesday night, the Wyoming Cowboys welcome the Colorado State Rams to Arena Auditorium for a Mountain West Conference battle and the latest chapter in the long-lasting Border War.
Since opening the 2012-13 campaign on a 13-game win streak, the Cowboys have faltered in a big way and have won just five times in 16 chances. The conference slate has been particularly difficult with Wyoming posting a mark of just 4-11 after bowing to New Mexico over the weekend, 53-42. The loss was the fourth straight for the Pokes, who are currently tied with Fresno State for seventh place in the league standings.
As for the Rams, a team which is an impressive 15-1 at home, they are just 5-6 in true road dates which is not entirely encouraging coming into this week. However, CSU did enter the week tied with UNLV for second place in the MWC with a record of 9-5 and the conference tournament ready to begin next week.
Colorado State, which will close out the regular season on Saturday with a home date against Nevada in Fort Collins, has fallen in three of the last four outings, the latest setback coming against Boise State at Taco Bell Arena over the weekend, 78-65.
In a relationship that is not more than 100 years in the making, the Cowboys own a 128-90 advantage over CSU, although the Rams won the most recent encounter last month in Fort Collins by a score of 65-46. Colorado State has won two straight and six of the last seven encounters.
It was a long time coming, but against Boise State the Rams suffered their first double-digit loss of the season, with part of the problem being that the visitors shot only 19-of-32 at the free-throw line in the 13-point setback. Greg Smith came up a rebound shy of a double-double with his 17 points, followed by Dorian Green with 15 points, Wes Eikmeier 14 and Colton Iverson 12 points and eight boards. The other starter, Pierce Hornung was held to just a single point in 33 minutes of action.
Against the Broncos last week, CSU was also beaten on the glass by a 31-30 margin, which isn't at all a bad effort, but when you consider the Rams are outrebounding league foes by more than 10 rpg it is a story that should be recognized. Iverson is averaging a double-double for CSU in league play with 13.1 ppg and 10.7 rpg, trailing only Eikmeier (14.2 ppg) and Green (14.1 ppg) in the scoring department, while Smith checks in with another 10.7 ppg as the group generates 71.6 ppg.
Had Leonard Washington not been limited to just 10 minutes because of a back injury, leaving him scoreless, who knows how the meeting against nationally- ranked New Mexico might have played out in The Pit last Saturday. As it turned out, not a single starter for the Pokes shot even 50 percent from the floor, the quintet combining to hit just 11-of-42 from the floor, Riley Grabau did hit for a career-high 14 points as he knocked down four of his eight tries behind the 3-point line, but the team as a whole converted just 7-of-24 on the perimeter and was outscored at the free-throw line, 21-3.
Washington, who heads the scoring list in conference play for the Cowboys with his 12.5 ppg, is again listed as questionable for the meeting with Colorado State which is by no means a good sign for the hosts. Should Washington remain on the bench, that would leave only Derrious Gilmore as an active double-digit scorer for the Pokes with his 11.9 ppg, and he is posting those points based on a mere 33.9 percent accuracy from the floor. Overall, the offense is producing a scant 53.5 ppg in league play.
The Cowboys have fallen apart after starting the season so strong and with Colorado State needing to finish this week with positive outcomes there's little reason to believe Wyoming can keep up.
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