GAME NOTES: The Wyoming Cowboys will tip off yet another stay in the College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday night when they travel to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in first-round action at Reed Arena.
Wyoming is one of the CBI's most experienced teams, with this its third straight appearance and fourth overall, having previously made the quarterfinals in 2012 and 2013. The Cowboys are 18-14 overall and finished 9-9 in the Mountain West Conference, but they have been sliding with losses in five of the last six, including in the quarterfinals of the MWC Tournament to UNLV, 71-67.
Texas A&M secured its eighth trip to the postseason in the past 10 years by accumulating a 17-15 record, with a large majority of its success coming at Reed Arena (16-3). The Aggies also ended the season on a low note, with its 91-83 double-overtime loss to Missouri in the second round of the SEC Tournament its third straight defeat.
The Aggies lead the all-time series with Wyoming, 3-1, but the teams haven't met since the 1986 NIT.
The Cowboys appeared down for the count in their latest game trailing by 10 with just 1:06 remaining, but while a furious 10-1 run over the next 43 seconds brought their deficit to just one, their comeback attempt was squashed with four unanswered points by UNLV. Pacing the effort was Josh Adams, who shot 10-of-18 from the field for 24 points. Jerron Granberry and Nathan Sobey both netted 18 points, while Derek Cooke Jr. brought down 10 rebounds.
Wyoming has been defined by its excellent defense this season, as it yields just 61.8 ppg on 40.7 percent field-goal shooting. It also shoots a lofty 47.8 percent from the floor itself, but that production has only resulted in 65.2 ppg. With Larry Nance, Jr. (15.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) done for the season with a knee injury, Adams (12.9 ppg), Riley Grabau (10.4 ppg) and Sobey (9.8 ppg) have stepped up as the top scoring options, although the team is just 1-5 without Nance is the lineup.
The Aggies battled back from nine points down midway through the second half in the SEC Tournament second round to tie the score before regulation, but after forcing a second overtime on an Alex Caruso layup with eight seconds left in the first extra session, they were done in by a 9-0 Missouri surge in double overtime. Caruso was the catalyst with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists but he also turned the ball over seven times. Jamal Jones was also stellar with 20 points, while Antwan Space and Fabyon Harris netted 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Just like Wyoming, Texas A&M has made a name for itself this season due to its outstanding defense, which ranks second best in the SEC in allowing only 63.4 ppg, but it too struggles to put points on the board, pouring in just 65.2 ppg. Jones is the top scoring threat with 13.6 ppg but he shoots a mere 37.7 percent from the field. Kourtney Roberson (9.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Caruso (9.2 ppg, 4.8 apg) are also integral pieces of the Aggies' puzzle.
Expect a low-scoring affair in this matchup between two stout defenses, with the Aggies haven't the slight edge defending their home floor.
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