UW vs. Utah State men’s basketball: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s regular-season home-finale against Utah State, which starts at 7 p.m. MT Wednesday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Riley Grabau

Riley Grabau

1. Perimeter defense: UW has lost four of its last six games, and in all of those losses they’ve allowed 10 3-pointers three times, and 11 in last Saturday’s loss at UNLV. Utah State shoots about 40 percent from behind the arc, and will have three or four guys on the floor most of the time that shoots between 40 and 50 percent. The Cowboys must do a better job defending the perimeter because if Utah State gets hot from long range, they will be in for a long night.

“Yeah, I think we’re a little out of rhythm. I think we getting back to where we were at the start of the year. We need to get tougher on the defensive end. Coach (Larry Shyatt) said we need to get tougher on the defensive end and I agree with him, we do.” — UW senior guard Riley Grabau

Here is my video preview of the game:

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UW at Nevada men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

Here are my three keys for the Wyoming men’s basketball team for its game tonight at Nevada. Tip time is 8 p.m. MT from the Lawlor Events Center, and the game will be televised online only by the Mountain West Digital Network.

1. Crash the boards: Nevada can really rebound, especially on the offensive glass. UW must not allow the Wolf Pack to get second and third chances at shots. That won’t be

AJ West

AJ West

easy without senior forward Larry Nance Jr. (mono), and the fact Nevada has one of the best rebounders and big men in the Mountain West in junior AJ West — one of 18 players in the nation to average a double-double (12.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg). The Cowboys won the rebounding battle with Nevada in their 63-55 win Jan. 31 in Laramie as they held a 34-24 edge and 12-9 on the offensive glass. If they can do that again, or even stay even, that would be a huge advantage for the Pokes. Nevada enters the game fifth in the nation with 15.3 offensive rebounds per game.

“West is one of the better players in the conference. Controlling and limiting him and his opportunities, along with a lot of their other guys are going to be critical in the game,” UW senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. said.

Here is my preview video on the game:

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UW-San Jose State men’s hoops: 3 takes, notes, quotes and video

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 —

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

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:

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UW-Air Force men’s hoops; 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s game today at Air Force, which starts at noon MT and will be televised on Root Sports.

1. Come together: The news Friday morning rocked everyone who follows UW basketball when the school announced that senior forward Larry Nance Jr. has a mild

Larry Nance Jr.

Larry Nance Jr.

case of mononucleosis. Not sure what “mild” means, but he is listed as day-to-day. I will be surprised if he plays, and many remember what happened when Nance hurt his knee last year. But it’s way too early to hit the panic button with this. Yes, it’s not good or ideal, but if Nance misses a game or two, fine — as long as he gets better. A silver lining in all this is UW has a lot of players that has been through this kind of adversity, and it needs to feed off that with guys like senior guards Riley Grabau and Charles Hankerson Jr., senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. and junior guard Josh Adams. The Cowboys need to come together as a team, and has the make-up to do so.

Here is my video preview of today’s game:

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UW-Colorado State men’s hoops: 3 takes, notes, quotes and video

My 3 takes from Wyoming’s 59-48 win over Colorado State at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. Repeat performance: The Cowboys held the Rams to 54 points and 34 percent shooting in a 60-54 win at Moby Arena on Jan. 7. They out did themselves in this game as they held Colorado State to season-lows in points and shooting percentage at 30. The Rams were 3 of 25 from 3-point range, and just 5 of 25 in the first half.

“Wyoming is a good team, and we’re a real good team. Sometimes you just can’t explain. This is one of those games that you just can’t explain,” Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. “I’m not embarrassed at all of this game, our guys tried for 40 minutes. We just couldn’t make shots, and when you don’t make shots you don’t look very good.”

Here are some second half highlights from the game:

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UW-Colorado State men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming men’s basketball in tonight’s Border War versus Colorado State. Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. Offense vs. Defense: Colorado State (19-3 overall, 6-3 MW) leads the league in scoring at 74 points per game. UW is fourth in the nation in scoring defense (53.9 ppg). The Cowboys got the better end in the first game, a 60-54 victory at Moby Arena on Jan. 7

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

as they held the Rams to 34 percent shooting and 2 of 14 from 3-point range. UW can’t get into a track meet in this game, yet will need to take advantage of some fast-break points when it can.

“You have to be alert and on edge every single possession,” UW coach Larry Shyatt said. “What we have to do better (tonight) is during those first eight to 10 seconds on defense. When they rebound that ball they fly it up the floor. They have enough outstanding offensive players they can insult you in transition.”

2. Play smart in the post: UW is undermanned inside as redshirt freshman forward Alan Herndon is out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. will have to shoulder the load inside, which they so for the most part anyway. However, Herndon averaged nearly 18 minutes per game in conference play so Nance and Cooke will have to play smart and avoid foul trouble, and Shyatt and staff will have a challenge in terms of managing those minutes. The Cowboys could go with a small lineup at times with only one post, but those times may be few and far between as Colorado State has four bigs who see time and can run the floor.

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UW-Nevada men’s basketball: 3 takes, notes, quotes and video

My three takes from Wyoming’s 63-55 win over Nevada Saturday:

1. Chairmen of the boards: UW outrebounded Nevada 34-24 and 12-9 on the offensive glass. Rebounding is not the Cowboys’ strength, especially not on the offensive glass. But they were good there against a Nevada team that averaged more than 41 rebounds per game, and 15.4 offensive rebounds per contest. Even though senior forwards Larry Nance Jr.(11 points, 10 rebounds) and Derek Cooke Jr. (14 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles, it was more than just rebounding. UW got to most of the 50-50 balls, or hustle plays in this game. Sometimes that resulted in an offensive rebound. Other times in extended a possession. The hustle the Cowboys showed was impressive. UW was credited with five team rebounds — four offensive — and many of those came on hustle plays. The Cowboys also scored a season-high 16 second-chance points.

Here are video highlights from the second half:


Riley Grabau

Riley Grabau

2. Grabau getting hot: Senior guard Riley Grabau was 3 of 5 from 3-point range and is 11 of 21 in his last three games. Doubt he can shoot at that pace the rest of the season, but it is good to see him knock down some shots. Junior guard Josh Adams was 2 of 5 from behind the arc and sophomore Jason McManamen was 1 of 2. If senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. can only bust out of his slump. Hankerson was 0 of 5 from the field and 0 of 3 from 3. In his last three games he is 0 of 16 and 0 of 12 from behind the arc. Coach Larry Shyatt isn’t concerned about Hankeson because he’s playing good defense and being unselfish offensively. Hankerson said via his Twitter account after the game: “Great win. It’s all about the team. But I have to be better. I will be better.”

Here is Shyatt after the game:

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UW-Boise State postgame thoughts, notes, quotes and video

One thing you can say about this Wyoming men’s basketball team — it does a good job with halftime adjustments.

For the third time in four conference games UW trailed at the half. Saturday, it was down 31-30 at home to Boise State. The Broncos made 6 of 14 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. They only made four 2-point baskets.

But the Cowboys played better defense, had some spectacular offensive plays and made all 10 of their free throws in the second half for a 65-54 victory in front of a solid crowd of 7,024 — the second largest of the season — Saturday afternoon at the Arena-Auditorium.

UW won its seventh straight game, 13th in a row at home and sits atop the Mountain West at 15-2 overall and 4-0 in league play — the only undefeated team in the MW right now.

Boise State entered the game leading the MW in scoring (71.8 ppg) and 3-point shooting percentage (38.3). It shot 40 percent for the game at 10 of 25, which ties for the most 3-point baskets UW has allowed this season.

Sophomore forward James Webb III — at 6-foot-9 — was 5 of 7 from 3. He came into the game 10 of 29 on the season. But aside from Webb, UW did a good job on the other Boise State players from the perimeter. No one made more than one 3, and UW made senior guard Derrick Marks get most of his points from outside the arc. Marks had 16 points, but only one 3-pointer.

“In first half we gave Webb too many wide open 3s,” UW senior forward Larry Nance said. “He was still 5 of 7 but he hit three in the first half that were wide open. Their bigs like to shoot the 3. That is their threat, and ours is inside. It was a clash of play styles.”

Coach Larry Shyatt said UW also did a good job of switching defenses from man to zone in the second half, and recognizing those switches. Here is Shyatt after the game:

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Herndon gaining confidence, and hopefully weight, as season progresses

Wyoming redshirt freshman forward Alan Herndon worked hard in the offseason to add 20 pounds to his 6-foot-9 frame. He was listed at 205 pounds when the season started, and coach Larry Shyatt joked in the fall that Herndon was “less thin” than he was last season.

Alan Herndon

Alan Herndon

But a bout with acid reflux before Christmas caused Herndon to miss two games and lose 14 pounds. Herndon said he’s gained about eight of those pounds back, but if there was any UW player who couldn’t afford to lose weight, it was Herndon.

Don’t you wish we all had Herndon’s challenge of gaining weight?

But despite the weight loss, Herndon has given UW solid minutes since his return. In his last three games, Herndon has averaged 22.3 minutes per game, and played no fewer than 16 minutes in any of those contests.

Herndon logged a career-high 32 minutes in UW’s 60-54 win at Colorado State Wednesday. His stat line wasn’t eye-popping with two points and five rebounds. But he played well as senior forward Larry Nance Jr. struggled with a tweak of his surgically repaired right knee and after senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. picked up two fouls in the opening minutes of the game.

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UW-San Jose State men’s hoops postgame thoughts

I don’t think many expected Wyoming to struggle at San Jose State Saturday night.

But it did.

However, UW played better defense and got to the free-throw line in the second half for a 64-59 victory in front of what was announced as a crowd of 1,188 at The Event Center in San Jose, California.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

We all know that UW (13-2 overall, 2-0 Mountain West) likes to slow the pace of games. That worked to San Jose State’s advantage. Despite getting two of five players back from suspensions, the Spartans dressed only eight players — seven of whom played. The two reserves who got into the game played just over eight total minutes.

San Jose State (2-12, 0-2) would hold the ball for most of the shot clock, and then run a play or launch at 3-pointer. It worked for a while as the Spartans made four of its first 3-pointers over the first 12 minutes of the game, but they made only 4 of 16 the rest of the game.

When the Spartans were not making 3s, they did a good job of getting looks inside and mid-range jump shots. San Jose State made five more baskets than UW, and five more 3-pointers.

“We executed the game plan exactly as our staff wanted them to do,” San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win it down the stretch. That’s all you can as for as a coach.”

But the Cowboys were 23 of 30 from the free-throw line and 18 of 24 in the second half. The Spartans were 3 of 6 from the line in the game. That, and the fact UW held a 32-24 rebounding edge, and a 28-19 advantage on the defensive glass, were the biggest factors in the win, coach Larry Shyatt said.

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