UC Santa Barbara (4-6) at Wyoming (11-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Arena Auditorium (15,000) -- Laramie, Wyoming. Television: None. Home Record: UCSB 3-1, Wyoming 8-0. Away Record: UCSB 1-5, Wyoming 3-0. Neutral Record: UCSB 0-0, Wyoming 0-0. Conference Record: UCSB 0-0, Wyoming 0-0. Series Record: Wyoming leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: Off to their best start since the 1987-88 campaign, the Wyoming Cowboys try to remain perfect on Friday as they host the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in non-conference play at Arena Auditorium in Laramie.
Except for a couple of instances, the Cowboys have been rolling over the competition, and they posted another double-digit win on Tuesday when they topped visiting Denver in a 71-61 final. The 11-game win streak is the eighth in program history, and with a win over UCSB the team will match its best start ever which occurred back in 1950-51.
As for the Gauchos, they are currently two games under .500 at 4-6, with the month of December committed to playing Golden State-based programs almost exclusively. The team was last in action earlier this week as well, taking on California on the road and suffering a 68-59 defeat. The loss was the second in three games for a team that will have a considerable break before hitting the hardwood again on Dec. 29 at Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference opener.
The all-time series currently favors the Cowboys who have won three of the previous five encounters. The most recent of those meetings took place late last month with Wyoming posting a lopsided 68-40 win on the road. In that game, UCSB shot a dismal 28.6 percent from the floor, en route to a season-low in points.
UCSB ended up shooting an impressive 43.3 percent behind the 3-point line against Cal the last time out, but overall the visitors made only 33.3 percent from the floor and knocked down 2-of-5 at the free-throw line. Kyle Boswell came off the bench to tally 12 points, followed by Taran Brown and Nate Garth with 11 points apiece, while Alan Williams tacked on eight points and a game- high 12 rebounds, but he shot only 4-of-18 from the floor before picking up his fifth personal foul. Williams may have had a tough time finding the basket against Cal, but overall this season he is a double-double waiting to happen as he averages 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. While Williams handles the action in the paint, Brown (13.6 ppg) and Boswell (11.7 ppg) supply the firepower out on the perimeter by combining to shoot 56-of-141 beyond the arc.
The Cowboys won by only 10 points on Tuesday against Denver, but that didn't stop Luke Martinez and Larry Nance, Jr. from having break-out games with career highs of 25 and 21 points, respectively. Nance nailed all 11 of his free-throw attempts as the team made good on 19-of-21 at the charity stripe, compared to 9-of-13 for the Pioneers. Derrious Gilmore tacked on 12 points as the team shot a staggering 68.8 percent from the floor in the second half and 64.7 percent for the entire game. Wyoming was guilty of a season-high 17 turnovers, but the team made up for those with 8-of-12 shooting behind the 3- point line. Martinez, a 43.4 percent shooter on the perimeter, is tied with Leonard Washington for the scoring lead with 14.5 ppg, the latter handling the action in the paint with his 8.5 rpg and 22 blocked shots. In fact, Washington would be smart to remain in the key and avoid the enticement of shooting 3- point shots, where he is only 21.4 percent accurate.
Certainly the Gauchos would like some pay-back in this contest after being crushed by Wyoming at home last month, but unless they can find a way to slow down all of the moving parts of the Cowboys it doesn't appear as though it will happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 73, UC Santa Barbara 62
12/21 10:31:52 ET