Pokes ready to host Lehigh

LARAMIE, Wyo. (March 18, 2013) – The University of Wyoming men's basketball team begins play in the 2013 College Basketball Invitational presented by Buick by hosting Lehigh on Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (19-13) earned their second-straight postseason berth for just the 11th time in program history this season, while the Mountain Hawks (21-9) look to continue their recent postseason success after an impressive showing in the NCAA Tournament last season. Wyoming has won 22 consecutive non-conference games in the AA dating back to 2010, but Lehigh is 9-6 on the road this season.



Wyoming finished the regular season with a 19-13 overall record and 4-12 in conference play for eighth in the MW standings and an RPI of 73. The Pokes downed Nevada 85-81 in the first round of the MW tournament to earn their first win at the event since 2009. Wyoming advanced to the quarterfinals, where it dropped a 59-46 game to #15/14 New Mexico. The Cowboys trailed 34-24 at half, but clawed within three five minutes into the half. UNM made its way to the free throw line to go back up by double digits just over halfway through the final period. UW made one last run, cutting the lead to six with just over six minutes left, but the Lobos found their shot for an 11-4 finishing run. UW's defense has been its strength this season, allowing just 58.4 points per game for first in the MW and 22nd in the NCAA, but the Cowboys have allowed more than 70 in four of their last seven games. Four of those opponents have also shot over 50 percent from the field, including two better than 60 percent. The Pokes have forced foes off the three-point line, though, ranking second in the league during MW play in three-point defense at 28.6. Offensively, Wyoming was eighth in the MW in points at 60.6 per game, as five of its lowest point totals of the season came in conference play. UW's 6.6 threes per game were third in the MW, though. The Cowboys led the league in turnover margin at plus 2.1, as their 11.2 turnovers per game rank 29th in the NCAA. UW's 15.3 personal fouls per game are 24th in the nation.

Head coach Brett Reed has had great success in his six seasons at Lehigh, including helping the Mountain Hawks advance to the NCAA Tournament's third round last season with an upset of Duke. Lehigh enters the 2012-13 postseason with a 21-9 overall mark and 10-4 in conference play for third in the Patriot League standings and an RPI of 107. Lehigh is 11-3 at home this season and 9-6 on the road. The Mountain Hawks opened conference play 8-1, before dropping three straight leagues games. Lehigh rebounded to win its final two regular season games and advanced to the semifinals of the Patriot League Championships before falling to Lafayette, 82-69. The Mountain Hawks rank in the top three of nearly ever Patriot League statistical category on offense. They lead the league at 73.3 points per game, while their 46 percent from the field and 39 percent beyond the arc both are first in the conference and rank 44th and 11th in the NCAA, respectively. Lehigh's 14.8 assists per game are first in the Patriot League and 48th in the nation. Defensively, Lehigh ranks fifth in the conference in points per game at 65.2, but second in field goal defense at 41 percent and first three-point defense at 28 percent, which also ranks fifth in the NCAA. The Mountain Hawks' 7.1 steals per game lead the conference also. Lehigh commits 11.0 turnovers per game for 22nd in the nation and 15.4 fouls for 29th.


All-MW Third Team and All-Defensive Team member Leonard Washington continues to pace the Pokes at 12.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.4 steals, despite battling back and ankle injuries over the last few weeks of the season. The senior forward ranks in the top 11 of the MW stats in all four categories. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. both scored in double figures in UW's two games at the MW tournament. Gilmore averages 12.0 points, 1.6 rebounds and a team-high 2.8 assists, including a career-high eight against Nevada in Las Vegas. Nance rounds out UW's double-figure scorers at 10.1 points and 6.9 rebounds. He has nearly averaged a double-double in Wyoming's five tournament games this season. Freshman guard Josh Adams adds 6.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in addition to big plays at key moments, while sophomore guard Riley Grabau is UW's other probable starter at 5.8 points and 2.5 assists.

Senior guard C.J. McCollum is Lehigh's stand-out player, but has been sidelined with a foot injury since Jan. 5. At the time of his injury he was second in the nation at 23.9 points per game to go with 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists. In his absence, senior forward Gabe Knutson leads the team at 13.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He ranks seventh in the Patriot League in points and fifth in field goal percentage. Fellow senior forward Holden Greiner is right behind him at 13.4 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds, which rank third in the conference. Junior guard Mackey McKnight adds 12.1 points and a league-high 4.9 assists per game. Junior guard Anthony D'Orazio is second in the conference at 1.3 steals to go with 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds, while junior guard B.J. Bailey rounds out Lehigh's probable starters at 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds. McKnight had 22 points, Greiner added 16 and Knutson had 10 in Lehigh's last outing.


Tuesday is the first meeting between Wyoming and Lehigh.

A victory in the CBI's first round would see Wyoming face the winner of North Dakota State and Western Michigan in the quarterfinals next Monday.

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