CSU menâ€™s basketball players yelled â€œBorder Warâ€ during parts of Thursdayâ€™s practice, signifying their focus and the importance of Saturdayâ€™s game against Wyoming.
â€œThey know whatâ€™s at stake,â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said. â€œI think itâ€™s very exciting both teams have been successful up to this point in the season.â€
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.
â€œHeâ€™s eliminated losing with that team,â€ Miles said. â€œThey donâ€™t take bad shots, they really donâ€™t turn it over all that much, and they play really sound defense.â€
Defense has been Wyomingâ€™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.
â€œTheyâ€™re sound defensively, and they donâ€™t break down often,â€ CSU senior Will Bell said. â€œThey like to slow teams down when they get up there.â€
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 CSUâ€™s 74.7 points and 49.7 percent field goal shooting.
â€œHeâ€™s doing what he has to do with limited numbers, and heâ€™s done a great job,â€ Miles said of Shyatt.
Wyomingâ€™s offense is built around balance, with three players averaging more than 11 points per game.
â€œThey really have good balance,â€ Miles said. â€œThey donâ€™t have great depth, but the guys they do have can all hurt you in different ways.â€
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 Saturdayâ€™s game due to Wyomingâ€™s size advantage, as CSU has given up a combined 25 offensive rebounds in its last two games.
â€œWeâ€™ve faced bigger teams before,â€ Bell said. â€œWeâ€™re just a scrappy bunch â€” we donâ€™t care about size. We just need to go in there and fight our butts off, and weâ€™ll be fine.â€
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 Saturdayâ€™s clash.
â€œIt does help, but we canâ€™t overlook them at the same time,â€ Bell said.
Saturdayâ€™s game will be CSUâ€™s first conference road game of the season, and first road game since defeating Texas-El Paso.
â€œItâ€™s going to be a packed environment,â€ CSU junior Dorian Green said. â€œWe have to be ready to go in there and battle. Winning on the road in this conference is not easy.â€
Menâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.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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