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

My three keys for Wyoming’s men’s basketball game vs. Nevada today, which tips off at 4 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie:

Larry Nance

Larry Nance

1. Nance vs. West: Two of the better big men in the Mountain West will go against each other today in Wyoming senior Larry Nance Jr. and Nevada junior AJ West. Nance leads UW in scoring (16.4 ppg), rebounding (6.9 rpg) and blocked shots (1.1 bpg), and those figures go up to 19.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 1.3 bpg in league play. West is one of 19 players in the country that averages a double-double (12.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg). He also averages nearly three blocks per game, and leads the nation in offensive rebounds (6.1 per game). These two have formed a nice rivalry over the last year or so.

Here is my video preview on the game:


2. Second-chance points: West isn’t the only player for Nevada that crashes the offensive glass. Nevada averages more than 15 offensive rebounds per game. UW must do a good job of defensive rebounding and not giving the Wolf Pack second and third chances at baskets.

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UW-New Mexico men’s hoops: 3 takes, notes, quotes and VIDEO

My three takes from Wyoming’s 63-62 overtime win over New Mexico Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie:

1. Similar to last week for Nance: UW senior forward Larry Nance Jr. missed a free throw with 14.9 seconds left to play in overtime that would have tied the game. But a few seconds later, he stole the ball and ended up with the game-winning dunk with 3.2 seconds left. In UW’s 70-65 triple overtime win at Fresno State last week, Nance missed two free throws with 0.5 seconds left in the second overtime that would have won the game. “Apparantly its my thing to miss clutch free throws late when we win,” Nance said. Still, Nance finished with a team-high 23 points, and was 11 of 13 from the line. He also had six rebounds, five turnovers, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Only one of those turnovers came in the second half and overtime.

Here are late-game highlights, including Nance’s steal and dunk in the final seconds, and player interviews after the game:

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UW-Fresno State men’s hoops: 3 takes, video and interviews

Where do you start to sum up No. 25 Wyoming’s 70-65 triple overtime win at Fresno State Saturday night?

Don’t know of three takes does it justice, but here we go:

1. Big Shot Hank: Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. made a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third overtime to seal the win for UW. It’s been Hankerson’s thing to make 3s late in the shot clock this season, and none were as big as this one. Maybe it wasn’t planned, and perhaps it was a bit lucky, but it was a huge shot. Hankerson finished with nine points, six rebounds and two assists.

Here are all the late-game highlights, including the final sequences in all three overtimes. Sorry for some of the obstructive views. And, here is Hankerson talking about his big shot.


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UW-San Diego St. 3 things to watch, along with notes, quotes and prediction

Three things to watch tonight as the 25th-ranked Wyoming Cowboys host San Diego State at 9 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie:

1. Ball security: San Diego State leads the MW in turnovers forced with 15 per game. UW averages around 11, but had 13 and 17, respectively, in games last week against Boise State and Colorado State. The Cowboys can’t give the Aztecs extra possessions off turnovers.

2. Crashing the glass: San Diego State has about a six-rebound advantage on UW, although the Cowboys — in terms of defensive rebounds — have done a good job this season. UW must hold its own on the glass, and not allow San Diego State a lot of second-chance points.

3. Who makes some perimeter shots?: Meaning for UW as you know that San Diego State, and its 1-3-1 zone, will try to pack the middle to take away senior forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. Someone, or multiple guys, will need to make some outside shots to either take the Aztecs out of that zone or loosen it up.

For more on the game, here is my video preview:


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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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More honors for UW’s Nance Jr., other team news and notes

Larry Nance Jr. seemed surprised when I told him Monday morning he earned national player of the week honors by NBCSports.com and from Andy Katz of ESPN. A little later, the Mountain West named Nance its player of the week.

Larry Nance

Larry Nance

Nance averaged 23.5 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots and 1.5 steals per game as he led the Cowboys to wins over UNLV and San Jose State last week to open conference play.

Over UW’s last three games, he’s scored 78 points — the second-most points over a three-game stretch since he’s been at Wyoming.

The always humble Nance said he’s just happy his team has won five straight games, and is 13-2 overall, 2-0 in the MW heading into the Border War at Colorado State (14-1, 1-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Nance is averaging 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocked shots. His scoring, rebounding and assist numbers are on pace to surpass last season’s averages, which earned him First Team All-MW honors and a spot on the all-defensive team. Nance is shooting 58.1 percent from the field, compared to 54.4 percent last season.

The media voted Nance as the preseason MW Player of the Year. I think he’s living up to that billing so far this season.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

“I’ve always been pleased with Larry because it starts off the floor,” coach Larry Shyatt said. “I think he’s doing a great job on both ends of the floor. He’s the captain of our defense, and the most important player on that side of the floor. Because of match-ups and foul trouble (for the opposing team) last couple of games, he’s had a chance to get the ball a lot more. He has to do more than just score for us. He’s a great defensive rebounder.”

Nance is third in the MW in defensive rebounds (5.4 per game).

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