Courtesy: UW Athletics
Laramie, Wyo. (Nov. 13, 2012) – The 2012-12 season kicks into high gear for the University of Wyoming men's basketball team this week, as the Cowboys host North Carolina Central, South Dakota and Southern for the Global Sports Hoops Showcase on Wednesday-Friday in the Arena-Auditorium.
South Dakota and Southern will start the tournament at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, followed at 7 p.m. by North Carolina Central versus the Cowboys. Thursday's first game sees Southern face North Carolina Central at 4:30 p.m., followed by South Dakota and Wyoming at 7 p.m. The event concludes on Friday with South Dakota and North Carolina Central at 1 p.m. and Southern and Wyoming at 8 p.m.
Tickets to all tournament games can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at GoWYO.com. Fans can also follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's games through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming opened the 2012-13 season with a 62-42 win over Western State last Saturday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes started slow and led by just four at halftime, but cranked down on the defensive end in the second half to pull away for the victory. Wyoming held the Mountaineers to 31 percent (13-of-42) from the field and 26 percent (5-of-19) beyond the arc, while forcing 17 turnovers to just seven for the Pokes. UW outrebounded WSCU 37-32, including 24-12 in the second half. Two Cowboys made their first career start and six UW players made their first career appearance.
North Carolina Central is 1-1 in its fourth season under head coach LeVelle Moton. The Eagles opened with a 71-57 loss at Wichita State last Saturday, before picking up their first win with a 109-46 demolishing of Johnson & Wales on Monday at home. NCCU is averaging 83 points on the offensive end, while allowing 58.5 on defense. The Eagles have shot 47 percent (57-of-120) from the field and 34 percent (13-of-38) on the young season, but have a minus 6.0 rebounding margin. North Carolina Central has a plus 11.0 turnover margin, thanks to forcing opponents to 22.5 turnovers per game.
South Dakota will open its 25th season under head coach Dave Boots at the tournament. The Coyotes return two starters and six letterwinners from a squad that went 10-18 overall in 2011-12. USD posted a 5-13 mark in its first season in the Summit League. The Coyotes averaged 70.8 points last season, while allowing 75.0 on the defensive end. USD shot 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from deep on the year, but had a minus 2.7 rebounding margin and minus 1.1 turnover margin. USD was defeated in 10 of its 18 games last season by 11 points or less, including two losses in overtime.
Southern enters its second season under the leadership of head coach Roman Banks in 2012-13. The Jaguars have an 0-2 mark on the year, after dropping an 82-59 game at Iowa State last Friday and a 66-55 game at Nebraska on Sunday. Southern has allowed 74 points per game this season, while only scoring 57 for a minus 17 scoring margin. SU has shot just 34 percent (39-of-114) from the field and 28 percent (12-of-42) beyond the arc, while allowing opponents over 47 percent (58-of-122) from the field. The Jaguars have a minus 17 rebounding margin, but a plus 2.5 turnover margin.
Each Team's Leaders
Senior guard Derrious Gilmore was Wyoming's top scorer in its season opener, as he notched a career-high 19 points, four assists and four steals. Senior forward Leonard Washington picked up right where he left off last season with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. added eight points and nine rebounds.
NCCU has three players in double figures, led by junior forward Stanton Kidd at 17 points and 7.5 rebounds. Junior guard Jeremy Ingram adds 16 points and 3.5 rebounds off the bench, while senior guard Ray Willis is averaging 13 points and 3.5 rebounds. Junior guard Drimir Ferguson is NCCU's top assist man with 10 in two games, also off the bench.
South Dakota's top returner is junior center Trevor Gruis, who is the only Coyote in the probable starting lineup to score a point for USD last season. He averaged 11.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and nearly one block per game in 2011-12. South Dakota also returns junior guard Steve Tecker and senior guard Jordan Boots, who averaged 5.6 and 5.0 points, respectively.
Southern's offense is led by senior guard Derick Beltran at 21.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He has shot 44 percent (16-of-36) from the field in SU's two losses. Junior center Javan Mitchell adds eight points and 3.5 rebounds, while senior guard Jameel Grace is averaging seven points, 2.5 assists and two rebounds.
About the Series
The Pokes are 5-2 all-time against South Dakota, but are meeting North Carolina Central and Southern for the first time. This will be the third-straight season Wyoming has faced the Coyotes. UW earned a 67-56 win over USD last season in Laramie, but South Dakota won an 80-70 contest in Vermillion, S.D., during the 2010-11 campaign.
Wyoming hits the road for the first time in 2012-13 with a contest against Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.