Pokes face Nevada in play-in game

Mar 12, 2013 The Associated Press

University of Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt described them as two different games, but he hopes for the same result the third time.Eighth seed UW (18-12 overall, 4-12 Mountain West) looks to beat ninth seed Nevada (12-18, 3-13) for the third time this season when the two teams face off in the play-in game at 6 p.m. today at the MW Tourn-ament at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Cowboys beat the Wolf Pack 59-48 in Reno, Nevada, on Jan. 12, and about a month later won 68-48 in Laramie. The winner of today's game plays top seed and No. 15 New Mexico (26-5, 13-3) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinals.UW was outrebounded 48-31 at Nevada, and 23-3 on the offensive glass.

The Wolf Pack attempted 15 more shots, but shot just 29 percent and made 1-of-15 from 3-point range. The Cowboys did a better job on the boards in Laramie, being outrebounded 27-23.But the common themes in both games were senior forward Leonard Washington and the fact UW made some shots.Washington had double-doubles in both games.

He scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half in Reno, and added five steals in the game in Laramie. In the two games, Washington averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals and 3.5 blocked shots.

"Washington is a difficult matchup for us, and we have to make him play at both ends and not let him dominate the game like he did in the first two."

Nevada coach David Carter said.However, Washington had only three points and three rebounds in 31 minutes (out of a possible 80) in his last two games due to a back injury.

Washington has dealt with ankle and back injuries the last few weeks. He had MRIs on both injuries, and Shyatt said he will play.

UW shot 46 percent from the field at Nevada and 53 percent at home, as well as 43.2 percent from 3-point range in both games. UW is last in MW games in scoring (53.6 points per game), 3-point shooting percentage (29.8) and free-throw shooting percentage (59.4), and is second-to-last in field-goal shooting percentage (39.3).

"It is a combination of us doing the right things defensively and keeping them off the glass with their size," Shyatt said. "And it is us knocking down some shots, which has been a problem for about six weeks."

The Cowboys led the conference in scoring defense at 57.6 points per game overall and 60.4 points in league games. But conference teams have shot 45.3 percent against them. Only Nevada (46.8 percent) is worse.

Carter said the key to UW's defense is with Washington.

"He controls the paint with blocked shots, and he takes charges," he said. "Not being able to get into the gaps and penetrate has hurt us a little bit. That forces us to rely on the jump shot, and we haven't been able to get those shots in rhythm to make them pay."

UW did a good job against Nevada's top two scorers -- junior guard Deonte Burton and senior guard Malik Story. Those two combine to average 32.5 points per game, the second most of any duo in the conference. Burton had 23 points in Reno, but Story had just six on 2-of-14 shooting.

Both combined for 24 points in Laramie. Shyatt said a "committee" of players will take turns defending Burton and Story.

"We have done a good job on Burton and Story, but this is a new season, and we can't look to the past as far as what we have done. We can't overlook them," sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. said.

UW figures to be as healthy as it has been over the second half of the conference season, since this will be its first game in six days.

The MRI on senior point guard Derrious Gilmore's sprained knee came back negative.

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