When does a victory feel like a loss?
When you are the Wyoming men’s basketball team and your best player — junior forward Larry Nance Jr. — goes down with 14:51 to play with a knee injury that in all probability will end his season.
That’s what happened against Fresno State. The Cowboys won 72-66, which was impressive and should be appreciated as they won their third straight and improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the Mountain West.
“It don’t think it looks good,” said UW coach Larry Shyatt, who added Nance will have an MRI Wednesday morning.
Nance was dominant before going out. He had 17 points — 15 in the first half — on 7 of 9 shooting. He didn’t put any weight on the knee as he was helped off the floor. He stayed either behind or on UW’s bench until the end of the game with a towel over his head.
Fans chanted “Larry, Larry” after the game as he was helped off the court by trainer Lance Schuemann and senior guard Nathan Sobey.
It was on the same end of the court where some other prominent UW players have injured their knees — Cheyenne’s Marcus Bailey in the early 2000s, Queint Higgins in the early 1990s and Mike Jackson in the early 1980s.
That A-A renovation, which includes a rotation of the court, can’t come soon enough.
Nance was not going up for a shot or rebound. He came to a jump stop, came down a little awkwardly and something gave . He was fouled by Fresno State sophomore guard Cezar Guerrero, but I am not sure that had anything to do with the injury.
Kudos to Sobey, who scored 22 of his career-high 26 points in the second half. He was 15 of 17 from the free-throw line. UW was 33 of 44 for the game — both season-highs. Four Fresno State players fouled out.
Needless to say, Fresno State coach Rodney Terry wasn’t happy about that after the game.
“You saw the game. I saw the game. There’s not much more to say than that,” he said emphatically.
Fresno State was 21 of 25 from the line.
UW held Fresno State to 38.2 percent shooting and 3 of 11 from 3-point range. UW will need to shoot better than 1 of 9 from behind the arch from here on out.
Shyatt said at 17 wins he thinks UW will play in a post-season tournament. Not sure which one at this point.
A few other notes from the game:
–UW senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. had a career-high four blocked shots to go with a game-high eight rebounds. Cooke scored three points, but was 1 of 5 from the line. Free-throw shooting is not his strength, but with Nance likely out he needs to step up nearly every part of his game as UW’s lone proven post player.
–Fresno State was led by senior guard Tyler Johnson with 24 points. He has scored 20 or more points in eight MW games this season and 10 overall.
–UW junior guard Riley Grabau was 0 of 3 from 3-point range, which snapped a sterak of six straight games where made at least three from long distance.
–UW has now played 16 games this season decided eight points or less, and evened its record at 8-8.
–Fresno State had only two assists on its 21 made baskets.
Will be interesting to see where UW goes from here without Nance. Seems like everyone is assuming the worst right now. Shyatt is confident Nance and team will be fine. We shall see.
Sorry there is no video highlights. Some technical difficulties came up and what I had shot got erased. Will do better next time.
For more on the game, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.