My three takes from Wyoming’s 69-57 loss at UNLV Saturday night:
1. Getting away from what got them here: UW won 21 games by playing good defense, but the first thing coach Larry Shyatt said after the game was that the Cowboys focused more on scoring than getting stops against the Rebels. UNLV was 11 of 19 from 3-point range — 6 of 10 in the second half. Some of those shots were contested, but too many were not. Shyatt didn’t have many answers for why, but UW better figure it out or it could lose its final two games of the regular season this week — home for Utah State Wednesday and at New Mexico Saturday.
Here is Shyatt after the game:
2. Early turnovers: The Cowboys committed nine turnovers in the first half, and looked a lot like it did in its 64-59 home loss to Fresno State on Wednesday. There were some sloppy passes, some good defense by UNLV, but too many unforced errors by the Cowboys. To their credit, they had only three turnovers in the second half. However, UNLV scored 15 points off UW’s turnovers. The Cowboys are not good enough to give anyone in this league that many extra possessions and points.
3. Nance still coming back: Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. had nine points on 3 of 10 shooting, and took only one shot in the second half. UNLV did a good job on Nance. It doubled down and would send players down on him once he would make his move near the basket. In his two games back since missing the previous four with mononucleosis, Nance is a combined 7 of 20 from the field. Nance said UNLV didn’t do anything against him that he didn’t expect, and it is understandable that he wasn’t going to be come back from an illness like that and be like the old Nance right away. However, UW needs him to be more of an offensive presence down the stretch. Easier said than done when teams will try to take him away, but there have been some shots in these last two games we’ve seen him make many times. Nance also fouled out with 1:16 to play, the first time he’s fouled out this season.
Here is Nance after the game:
A few other notes and observations from the game:
–I really have liked how junior guard Josh Adams has attacked the basket and elevated his offensive game the last four games. He’s averaged 22.5 points during that span, and had a game-high 24 points. But while Adams’ ability to drive to the basket and create is important, one has to wonder if that mentality led to some lapses on defense — in this game and in others. This isn’t all about Adams, but with the entire team. There needs to be a happy median here, and right now UW hasn’t found it.
Here is Adams after the game:
–It looked like this game would come down to the end. UW cut UNLV’s lead to 52-49 with 7:49 to play, but an ill-advised 3 by Adams, followed by a turnover and three missed layups spurred a 10-0 UNLV run that put the game away with 4:09 left. The Cowboys need to finish those plays, and haven’t the last couple of games.
–Bigger guards have given the Cowboys trouble this season, which was the case in this game. UNLV played three guard who were 6-foot-6, and senior point guard Cody Doolin is 6-3. The Rebels’ four guard scored 45 of the team’s points, led by freshman Patrick McCaw’s 21 points on 5 of 7 shooting from 3-point range.
–In the span of a week, UW — now 21-8 overall, 10-6 Mountain West — went from being in a second-place tie in the MW standings to now being fifth and just one game ahead of Fresno State, which is in sixth place. This veteran team and veteran coaching staff need to get it figured out as it faces the league’s hottest team in Utah State Wednesday in Laramie for senior night.
For more on the game, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.