There’s been a lot of firsts for Wyoming men’s basketball this season.
A first-year coach.
First-year players, and others with bigger roles.
Five UW players will go through another first Wednesday when the No. 7 seed Cowboys (18-13) play No. 10 Air Force (11-20) at 2:30 p.m. MT in a first-round game. They will play in their first-ever MW Tournament game.
Two in particular are sophomore guard Justin James and junior forward Hayden Dalton. Both were on the team last year, but were suspended prior to the tournament after being cited by Laramie police for drug use. James and Dalton are UW’s two leading scorers at 15.5 and 12.5 points per game, respectively.
“It hurt knowing I couldn’t be out there helping my team in some way. This year I’m ready to play,” James said.
Needless to say, UW needs both players to have good games Wednesday, but perhaps the biggest area is ball security. James and Dalton lead UW in turnovers. Between both, they average about five turnovers per game, and many of them are careless turnovers that can easily be avoided.
UW will try and beat Air Force for the third time this season, and it beat the Falcons by nine and 12 points in the two regular-season games.
“We can’t take them lightly. Everyone is now 0-0. One loss and you’re packing to go home,” UW junior forward Alan Herndon said. Herndon, is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, just down the road from the Air Force Academy, had one of his better games of the season in the Cowboys 83-74 win at Air Force on Feb. 4 with 16 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. Playing Air Force always gives Herndon a little extra edge, and UW could use that Wednesday.
A few other notes for the Cowboys heading into this game:
— UW has made 10 or more 3-pointers in eight consecutive games, and is 10 3-pointers shy of tying a school record for most 3s in a season. The Cowboys have made 297 3s this season. The record is 307 by the 2015-16 team. UW’s 868 3-point attempts this season is a school record.
— Senior guard Jason McManamen will play in his 117th game for UW, which will tie him for the 15th-most in school history.
For more coverage from this game, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.