My three takes from Wyoming’s 77-60 victory over San Jose State Saturday in front of 7,870 fans at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
1. Adams’ A-game: UW junior guard Josh Adams played one of his better games of the season, and also over the last month or so. Adams finished with a game-high 26 points —
three off his career-high. He also matched his season-high with seven assists — one shy of his career-best — and pulled down a season-high seven rebounds — again, one shy of his career-high. Adams did have four turnovers, but for the most part he made good decisions with the ball. He made some spectacular plays passing the ball, and had an acrobatic layup where the ball banked off the top of the backboard. UW needs Adams to play like that from here on out, especially with senior forward Larry Nance Jr. still out with mononucleosis. When Adams attacks the basket like he did, makes good decisions and does a lot of the things he did in this game, UW will have a chance to win.
Here are some video highlights from the game:
2. Making shots: The Cowboys shot 56 percent from the field, which was its fourth-best shooting game of the season and only the third time they shot better than 50 percent in conference play. UW had not shot better than 50 percent in its previous eight conference games. Of the seven players who scored against San Jose State, six shot 50 percent or better. UW’s 28 baskets tied a season-high. It made14 in both the first and second halves. Amazing what can happen when you make shots, right?
3. Big Al: Redshirt freshman forward Alan Herndon made his first-career start and had a career-high 10 points, along with five rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. Herndon
played better in the second half than the first, but if he could be a big key for the Cowboys until Nance comes back, and even after Nance returns. UW went back to a bigger starting lineup in this game with Herndon and senior Derek Cooke Jr. starting in the frontcourt. UW coach Larry Shyatt said the plan in this game — and likely others in the near future — is to have the guard drive and slash to the basket and look for Herndon and Cooke to dump it off to, kick the ball out to open perimeter shooters or draw a foul. If teams must account for two posts instead of one, that makes that game plan harder to defend. Shyatt also wants his team to push the pace and get some more transition baskets when the opportunity is there. The Cowboys scored 13 fast-break points — a season high.
Here is Herndon, Adams and Cooke after the game:
Some other notes and quotes from the game:
–UW held San Jose State to 32.7 percent shooting, which is the 15th time this season the Cowboys have held a team to less than 40 percent shooting.
–The 17-point win was UW’s largest this season since it beat Southern by 18 back on Dec. 20 — a span of 14 games.
–UW came into the game second in the nation in fewest fouls per game at 13.4. It had 19 against San Jose State, and Cooke was only the fifth player to foul out of a game for the Cowboys this season.
–The seven turnovers committed by the Cowboys tied a season-low. They also had seven in their MW opener against UNLV on Dec. 31. “I always tell (the players) that the mental part is 10-to-1 of what the physical is. I thought they were really smart on offense,” Shyatt said.
–The Cowboys wore their alternative grey uniforms, and improved to 7-2 when sporting that uniform combination.
–Adams tied a season-high with nine baskets, including three 3-pointers. UW is 5-0 when Adams makes three or more 3s this season. “I told him that he has to help lead us, and I said that you can pump your chest and think it’s fun. But sometimes it’s not so much fun. I told him he needs to rely on the mental part of the game. Make smart decisions and keep us connected when we’re not looking good. I thought he took it upon himself to play within what we needed with a new roster,” Shyatt said.
— “Endless dunks. Three dunks by my boy today,” Cooke on the play of Herndon.
–Shyatt said the crowd was “great medicine” for the Cowboys in the game. UW has averaged 8,703 fans over its last four home games.
Here is more from Shyatt after the game:
–“It’s always a relief when you get a win, but we’ve got to keep grinding. Don’t get too lows after losses and don’t get too high after wins,” Adams said.
UW beat a San Jose State team (2-22, 0-12) that it should have beat no matter if Nance was there or not. To get a false sense of security after this win would be false, but at least UW snapped its two-game losing streak, and after today’s MW action — most notably road losses by Boise State and Colorado State — UW (20-6, 9-4) is alone in second place in the conference heading into its game at Nevada Tuesday.
If UW can keep grinding, as Adams says, and get Nance back in the near future, there is still a lot to play for in the coming weeks for this team.
For more on the game and other UW and high school sports, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.