UW-Nevada prediction

They say it is hard to beat at team three times in one season.

At least if you are Wyoming, you beat Nevada twice so you know you can do it. That has to mean something for a team that has lost five straight games and 12 of the last 18 after a 13-0 start.

The Cowboys (18-12 overall, 4-12 Mountain West) play Nevada (12-18, 3-13) in the play-in game (or what the league is calling the first round) of the MW Tournament at 6 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

It won’t be easy for the Cowboys to win their third straight over the Wolf Pack. There are two keys: Defense and Leonard Washington.

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UW-Nevada Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Chris Murray, who covers Nevada men’s basketball for the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Eight-seeded Wyoming (18-12 overall, 4-12 Mountain West) plays ninth-seeded Nevada (12-18, 3-13) at 6 p.m. today in the play-in game at the Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Question: How is the Wolf Pack in terms of its physical and mental states heading into the play-in game with Wyoming?

Answer: The Wolf Pack had a lull late in the year when it looked like it had given up on the season. That period included a 20-point loss at Wyoming and a 26-point loss at Boise State. The team is playing with much more vigor of late, but it has still dropped its past five games by double-digits. In recent seasons, the Wolf Pack’s energy has taken a nice step forward in conference tournament play, which is to be expected, and I think the same thing will happen this week. As far as injuries are concerned, starting wing play Jerry Evans Jr. (shooting wrist) missed the last game and is questionable, but I expect him to play.

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All-MW men’s basketball team announced

Here is the link for the 2012-13 All-Mountain West men’s basketball team.

http://www.themwc.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/031113aah.html

The team was selected by the coaches and selected media, and I was one of those selected to vote.

My first team was the same as the coaches and other media members. I also picked New Mexico junior guard Kendall Williams as the Player of the Year, New Mexico’s Steve Alford as the Coach of the Year, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett as Freshman of the Year and Colorado State’s Colton Iverson as the Newcomer of the Year.

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UW-Colorado St. postgame thoughts

Colorado State was good, senior center Colton Iverson was dominant and there wasn’t much Wyoming could do about it.

The Cowboys lost their regular-season finale 78-56 to the Rams Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium. They finished the regular season on a five-game losing streak, and with a record of 18-12 overall and 4-12 in the Mountain West.

It looks like UW will play Nevada at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the play-in game at the Mountain West Tournament.

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UW-Colorado State pregame news and notes

The big news of the day came about nine hours before the game when senior guard Luke Martinez pleaded not guilty to a felony aggravated assault and battery charge Wednesday morning in district court in Laramie.

A trial is set for Aug. 26-28, and Martinez is still suspended indefinitely from the team.

What was surprising was what Martinez’s attorney, Tom Fleener said to the media after the hearing.

“Luke’s the victim here,” Fleener said. “He’s lost his college basketball career. He wasn’t the aggressor that night. It was a bar fight in a college town and no weapons were used. While the injuries were certainly unfortunate, Luke’s the one that truly suffered today.”

According to an affidavit, a multiple witnesses reported to police that Martinez kicked a limp and unconscious man, Parfait Nayigihugu, in the face.

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Border War Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Wyoming (18-11 overall, 4-11 Mountain West) hosts Colorado State (22-7, 9-5) at 8 tonight at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Question: Air Force’s Michael Lyons, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams and Boise State’s Derrick Marks have had huge games the last couple of weeks against the Rams. Is there a big concern about Colorado State’s perimeter defense, or do you chalk it up to three very good players having very good games?

Answer: I only get concerned when CSU is playing on a Saturday. The Rams held all UNLV and Fresno State players to less than 20 the past two Wednesday, so there must be some voodoo going on.

But really, I don’t see what CSU is missing in terms of on-ball defense. Williams and Lyons each had a hand in their faces on most shots, but they were allowed to catch the ball. The Rams have really focused on “no catch” defense the last week or so, and against Fresno State it worked, as they denied Kevin Olekaibe the ball in the second half to shut him down.

It is hard to really figure out what else CSU can do. Even Larry Shyatt noted it Monday that opponents were just having big games. No rhyme or reason.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi ranks the nine Mountain West men’s basketball teams. Included are their records and Rating Percentage Index according to RealTimeRPI.com, and rankings are from The Associated Press poll. Look for these rankings every week during the conference season.

Let him know what you think about these rankings — good or bad.

1. No. 12 New Mexico (25-4 overall, 12-2 MW, 2 RPI): Clinched the conference title with one week to go in the regular season. Second in the league in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense, but more importantly, first in both categories in league games at 58.6 ppg and 37.7 percent, respectively. When post players Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow are playing well, this team is tough to beat.

2. UNLV (22-7 overall, 9-5 MW, 14 RPI): The Rebels have won four straight and may be playing the best basketball of any team in the conference right now. Junior forward Mike Moser is playing up to expectations after some early-season injuries. They end the season at home with Boise State tonight and Fresno State Saturday, and have the inside track to be the second seed at the MW Tournament in their home arena next week.

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UW-New Mexico postgame thoughts

For Wyoming and coach Larry Shyatt, Saturday’s 53-42 loss at No. 14 New Mexico had to feel a lot like last year’s loss.

The score was similar as UW lost last year’s game 48-38.

The Cowboys shot 28.1 percent from the field in this game, and 25.9 percent in last year’s game. The total points and shooting percentage in this game for UW were its second-lowest of the season.

The win last year was New Mexico’s fifth straight, as was this one.

Shyatt also didn’t like how the officiating went in this game, much like last year. Last year, he said he couldn’t tell the truth about the officiating. Saturday he used some humor to not answer how he felt — and showed numerous times during the game — after his team was called for 22 fouls compared to 12 for New Mexico, was outscored 21-3 at the free-throw line and where the Lobos shot 20 more free throws than the Cowboys.

“(New Mexico coach) Steve Alford and his staff, this personnel they’ve put together and this crowd deserves more attention than my comment. And, I really don’t think my wife would want to know if I got fined.”

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