Coming off its first bye of the conference season, the Wyoming men’s basketball team plays at Boise State at 2 p.m. Saturday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
So how did UW use its bye week — or at least its time not having a mid-week game?
Coach Larry Shyatt said the team took Sunday and Tuesday off. It practiced “hard” Monday, and “lifted hard and had a long individual skill development” workout Wednesday. The team began preparations for Boise State Thursday. The coaches also spent time on the road recruiting.
Boise State (16-9 overall, 7-5 Mountain West) has lost four of its last five games, including a crazy 97-93 double-overtime loss at Colorado State where a game-winning 3-pointer by junior James Webb III was ruled no good by the officials.
Here is the link from the MW’s statement about how that game ended: http://www.themw.com/news/mw-16-official-stmt-end1OT-bsu-csu-mbk
The Broncos have lost four of their last five games by an average of 6.8 points, and their five conference losses have been by an average of six points. Despite its recent struggles, Boise State is still one of the more veteran and talented teams in the MW.
UW lost at home to Boise State 81-71 on Jan. 23. The Cowboys were without senior guard and leading scorer Josh Adams as he served a one-game suspension by the MW for a continuous violation of the league’s sportsmanship code.
Not having Adams definitely hurt UW, but so did the fact it allowed Boise State to shoot 60 percent in the second half. Fourteen turnovers led to 14 Boise State points. Sophomore guard Jeremy Lieberman had eight of UW’s turnovers, but since then — a span of four games — Lieberman’s had only three turnovers.
Senior guard Lonnie Jackson, who averages a little more than seven points per game, had 25 against UW and was 7 of 12 from 3-point range.
“We have to eliminate open shots for some of their guys. The score didn’t reflect how poorly we played that game,” Adams said.
Boise State is one of the highest scoring teams in the MW (77.6 points per game), and also in conference games only (76.6 ppg). Four players average in double-figures in terms of scoring. UW did a good job on two of the Broncos’ better scorers — junior forwards Webb and Nick Duncan — who had a combined 17 points. But as Jackson showed, there is plenty of other capable scorers for the Cowboys to contend with.
“We made a lot of mistakes defensively, especially in transition defense and not matching up with shooters,” said UW junior guard Jason McManamen of the first game with Boise State.
Speaking of shooters, UW is coming off a historic shooting performance in its last game — an 84-65 home win over Utah State last Saturday. UW was 20 of 38 from 3-point range, which were school records for both 3-pointers made and attempted in a game. McManamen made six, and has made 15 in the last three games.
For more on that, and what that means for UW moving forward, see my column in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.
UW should be confident, and somewhat rested going into the Boise State game. But as Adams said, they’re not too confident.
“I wouldn’t say we feel that good because that would make it sound like we’re ready or taking (Boise State) lightly,” he said. “We’re definitely excited and ready to prepare. They beat us on our home floor and we didn’t play that well. We need to improve over these next ouple of days leading up to this game.”