Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt thought Saturday’s game with San Jose State would be tougher for his team than Tuesday’s 68-62 home victory over No. 5 San Diego State.
Would the Cowboys come out with the same focus and intensity?
Would San Jose State — winless in league play — come out with a nothing-to-lose attitude and once it got some momentum — play well and perhaps win on its home floor?
There were some tense moments, but the Cowboys clamped down defensively in the second half and won 46-38 at The Events Center in San Jose, Calif.
There were not a ton of highlights for UW, but here is some footage from the game:
UW (16-9 overall, 7-5 Mountain West) allowed only nine second-half points. That ties its own league record its set last season when it allowed nine first-half points in a 58-45 home win over No. 15 San Diego State.
The Cowboys allowed only 13 baskets — a season low. San Jose State (6-19, 0-13) shot only 28.3 percent and made only four baskets in the second half.
One of the biggest plays of the game was when 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Josh Adams blocked a shot under the basket by 6-9 San Jose State forward Chris Cunningham. The ball went out of bounds to UW, and junior forward Larry Nance Jr. answered on the other end with a short jumper.
With 5:55 left UW led 43-36.
San Jose State did a good job of doubling Nance, but junior guard Riley Grabau picked up the scoring load with a game-high 18 points. More importantly, he had a career-high nine rebounds. Grabau is 6-foot-2. A lot of those rebounds came off missed perimeter shots by San Jose State, but still, Grabau’s rebounding was a huge factor in the game.
UW got solid games from junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. (eight points), junior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. (seven points) and from Adams, who was just 1 of 5 from the field but had four assists, three steals, that one big blocked shot and only two turnovers. Adams had 11 turnovers in his previous two games.
Cooke has averaged eight points per game over his last five contests, and Hankerson has made at least one 3-pointer in five of his last six games.
The 46 points by the Cowboys matched its season low. They scored 46 last Saturday at UNLV. They could have distanced themselves a little more down the stretch, but they missed some free throws and was only 7 of 13 from the line for the game.
Grabau’s streak of consecutive free throws made ended at 36 after he missed the second free shot after a technical foul on San Jose State’s Brandon Mitchell. Grabau made 28 straight in league play.
Nance had six points, and snapped a nine-game streak of double digit scoring games.
Here are a few other notes:
—UW and No. 4 Wichita St. entered Saturday as they only two teams in the nation not to allow 75 points in a game this season.
–UW trailed 29-26 at halftime and improved to 4-8 this season when it trails at the half.
–UW committed 11 fouls compared to 17 for San Jose State. The Cowboys are 15-1 when they commit fewer fouls than their opponents.
–Grabau has made at least three 3-pointers in six straight games. He was 4 of 10 from behind the arch in this game.
–San Jose State true freshman guard Rashad Muhammad, whose college choice came down to UW and San Jose State, has come off the bench all season for the Spartans but is the team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game. But he played only four minutes and was 0 of 1 from the field. In two games against UW, he was 0 of 8 from the field and 0 of 5 from 3-point range.
–San Jose State came in averaging nearly nine 3s per game. It had six and only one in the second half.
–The 38 points UW allowed was the fewest it has ever allowed in a MW game.
–UW went on 7-0 runs at the start of both halves, and Shyatt said he thought his team got “too happy” after it did that to start the game. After the Cowboys did that in the second half, they regained the lead and never lost it.
Teams will never apologize for winning conference games on the road, and UW should not in this instance even though it wasn’t one of its better offensive games. The Cowboys are now in fourth place in the MW standings and play four of their last six regular-season games at home.
For more on the game, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.