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March 19, 2012

Defensive-minded Wyoming visits Pullman in CBI

Wyoming's Cowboys have proven particularly defensive for most of the 2011-12 men's basketball season.

That stance doesn't refer to the Cowboys responses to verbal challenges, but to those on the basketball floor. At the same time, defensively-minded Wyoming is seeking something of a rebound on Monday night.

That's when the Cowboys are in Pullman to face the Cougars in a College Basketball Invitational quarterfinal at 7 p.m.

Wyoming gave up the most points it has all season last week in a first-round game against North Dakota State. The Cowboys survived the Bison, 78-75, only because Wyoming scored the second-most points it has all year.

The Cowboys (21-11) have given up an average of just 56.1 points a game throughout the season, sixth in the nation. They hold opponents to 30.4 percent from the field, good for 36th in the country overall.

Washington State (16-16) comes into this one averaging more than 68 points a game, and shooting 46 percent from the field.

The Cowboys are riding the momentum of their first post-season victory since a 2003 NIT win over another team from this state - Eastern Washington.

They are led by forward Leonard Washington. The second-team all-Mountain West selection ranks among the Top 10 in five conference statistical categories.

Washington leads Wyoming at 12.9 points a game, though senior Francisco Cruz and junior Luke Martinez add 12.3 and 12.1 points a game, respectively.

Washington has recorded double-double outings in four of his past five games.

Wyoming also boasts the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in guard JayDee Luster, who ranks 29th in the nation in assist-turnover ration at 2.4.

The winner of Monday's contest advances to the semifinal round on Wednesday. The teams will be re-bracketed for that round. The semifinal winners will then advance to the best-of-three Championship Series, which begins on Monday, March 26.



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