My three keys for Wyoming’s regular-season finale today at New Mexico. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. MT at WisePies Arena, aka, the Pit in Albuquerque.
1. Defend Greenwood: New Mexico senior guard Hugh Greenwood leads the Mountain West with 66 made 3-pointers, and he made five in UW’s 63-62 overtime win in Laramie in January. Perimeter defense has been an issue for the Cowboys, but they were better in Wednesday’s 76-53 win over Utah State as the Aggies shot just 6 of 18 from behind the arc. No one else on the Lobos roster that will play today has made more than 16 3s. UW needs to defend well against everyone on the perimeter, but especially on Greenwood.
“We can’t let New Mexico’s crowd and emotion take over because that will be tough to overcome,” senior forward Larry Nance Jr. said.
If Greenwood gets hot — or any of New Mexico’s players — that can easily happen.
2. Lobos have some size: New Mexico’s starting lineup will go 6-foot-3, 6-4, 6-5, 6-7 and 7-1. It also will bring a 6-10 center off the bench. Bigger teams, especially in the backcourt has given UW fits this season. UW needs defend 6-5 senior guard Deshawn Delaney well. He leads the team with 12.1 points per game. Look for senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. and redshirt sophomore Jason McManamen to see a lot of time on Delaney when UW plays man-to-man defense. The Cowboys will need to do a good job of getting out in transition and attacking the basket when they can, and also moving the ball around well in their half-court offense. And obviously, UW will have to hold its own on the boards and not allow a lot of second and third-chance opportunities from the Lobos.
One player that has played better for New Mexico inside is 7-1 sophomore center Obij Aget, who over his last four games has averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots and has shot 50 percent from the field.
Here is my video preview of the game:
3. Adams and Nance scoring: When junior guard Josh Adams and senior forward Larry Nance Jr. both are scoring at high clips, the Cowboys are a much tougher team to defend. The duo combined for 38 points in the Utah State win. That was the most points since those two have scored since they had 46 in the first game with New Mexico. The Cowboys need scoring from more than just those two, but when they get going it often opens up other opportunities for others.
Here’s a few other news and notes on the game:
— The two teams are similar statistical categories. UW averages 62.2 points per game, New Mexico averages 62.3. UW allows teams to shoot 40.4 percent; New Mexico is at 40.2. Both teams average 5.8 steals per game.
— If the Cowboys get their 23rd win of the season, it will be the most victories since they won 26 during the 1987-88 season.
— History is not on UW’s side in this game. Not only has it lost 11 in a row at the Pit, but New Mexico is 23-7 in its last home game over the last 30 seasons. Also, before he became the Lobos’ head coach last season, Craig Neal was an assistant and with him on the bench New Mexico is 14-3 against UW.
— New Mexico is 14-15 overall and 6-11 in the MW, and its biggest shortcoming has been the last four minutes of games. In its loss, the Lobos have shot 33.3 percent from the field, 18.5 percent from 3-point range and has been outscored 142-122. In its wins, New Mexico has shot 56.6 percent and 43.8 percent from 3. UW has been good — for the most part — in closing out games this season and are 10-3 in those decided by less than 10 points.
— New Mexico will lead the MW in average home attendance this season. With one game to go it averages 14,510, nearly 2,000 more per game than UNLV and San Diego State. “I think we need to prepare our guys when go to places like (the Pit) and other around the conference,” coach Larry Shyatt said. I think they know what they’re walking into. It’s a different deal than playing at home. These are packed houses and these are basketball factories.”
For more on what Shyatt said on crowds at New Mexico compared to those in Laramie, see today’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.
— Finally, don’t be surprised if this game goes into overtime. The last three have, and were decided by a combined nine points. A win also will pull even with New Mexico in the overall series at 66 win apiece.