Jan 192012
 
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

CSU men’s basketball players yelled “Border War” during parts of Thursday’s practice, signifying their focus and the importance of Saturday’s game against Wyoming.

“They know what’s at stake,” CSU coach Tim Miles said. “I think it’s very exciting both teams have been successful up to this point in the season.”

Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt has led the Cowboys (15-3, 1-1 MW) to 15 wins in their first 18 games after only winning 10 games all of last year.

“He’s eliminated losing with that team,” Miles said. “They don’t take bad shots, they really don’t turn it over all that much, and they play really sound defense.”

Defense has been Wyoming’s calling card this season and the primary reason for its success. Wyoming ranks first in the Mountain West in scoring defense, three-point field goal percent, defense, and turnover margin.

“They’re sound defensively, and they don’t break down often,” CSU senior Will Bell said. “They like to slow teams down when they get up there.”

The Cowboys only average 66.7 points per game, the second worst in the conference, but have made 47.3 percent of their field goals this season, indicating a slower pace than CSU’s 74.7 points and 49.7 percent field goal shooting.

“He’s doing what he has to do with limited numbers, and he’s done a great job,” Miles said of Shyatt.

Wyoming’s offense is built around balance, with three players averaging more than 11 points per game.

“They really have good balance,” Miles said. “They don’t have great depth, but the guys they do have can all hurt you in different ways.”

Junior guard Luke Martinez leads the Cowboys in scoring (13.4 ppg) and three-point field goal percentage (40.8 percent), ranking in the top-10 in the MW in both categories. Martinez leads the conference in three-point field goals made per game at just less than three.

CSU (13-4, 2-0 MW), on the other hand, leads the MW in field goal percentage, shooting 49.7 percent so far, and three-point percentage at just under 44 percent.

Rebounding will play a key part in Saturday’s game due to Wyoming’s size advantage, as CSU has given up a combined 25 offensive rebounds in its last two games.

“We’ve faced bigger teams before,” Bell said. “We’re just a scrappy bunch — we don’t care about size. We just need to go in there and fight our butts off, and we’ll be fine.”

CSU has won the last two match-ups in Laramie and its last four meetings overall, giving the team a measure of confidence heading into Saturday’s clash.

“It does help, but we can’t overlook them at the same time,” Bell said.

Saturday’s game will be CSU’s first conference road game of the season, and first road game since defeating Texas-El Paso.

“It’s going to be a packed environment,” CSU junior Dorian Green said. “We have to be ready to go in there and battle. Winning on the road in this conference is not easy.”

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Wyoming Mountain West Defensive Ranks
Scoring Defense: 53.2 ppg (1)
Field Goal Percent Defense: 38.3 percent (3)
3-point Field Goal Percent Defense: 29.7 percent (1)
Opponent Turnovers per game: 15.8 (3)
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