My three takes from Wyoming’s 67-65 win over Utah State in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
1. Charles in charge: Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. silenced a lot of his critics with a career-high 16 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Hankerson also had five rebounds. Yes, he missed two free throws late that would have sealed the game in the final seconds, but his shooting and slashing to the basket were two of the biggest factors in UW’s win. At the time, no one other than junior guard Josh Adams was consistently scoring, and Hankerson’s offense not only gave UW a boost, but sparked other guys like senior forward Larry Nance Jr. and senior guard Riley Grabau — who all scored in double figures.
2. Adams’ A-game: A game-high 19 points to go along with six assists and only two turnovers. In his last two games against Utah State, Adams has 37 points, 14 assists and two turnovers. He was aggressive with the ball, had some spectacular plays around the basket, including a follow-up dunk in the second half that had him trending nationally on Twitter for a while, and also part of ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Plays. When Adams plays like that, UW is more than formidable. He will be tested in Friday night’s semifinals as he likely will be guarding Boise State senior guard Derrick Marks, the Mountain West Player of the Year.
Here is coach Larry Shyatt, Adams, Nance and Hankerson after the game: