The Cow­boys Fall a Lit­tle Short

Amath M’Baye looks for a clear shot against two UNLV defend­ers. (John McK­night / LFP)

UNLV came to Laramie look­ing to get anoth­er win and want­i­ng to get a top 25 rank­ing. The Cow­boys wel­comed the Rebels into the AA hop­ing to pull off anoth­er state­ment win. Both teams entered the game in need of this win. UNLV is look­ing to be nation­al­ly rec­og­nized to get up there with SDSU and BYU; Wyoming want­ed to pre­vent them from achiev­ing this goal while gain­ing momen­tum before going on the road. On Sat­ur­day the Cow­boys take a trip to San Diego to play the #4 team in the nation and want­ed a win going into that game. The game start­ed good for Wyoming as they got out to an ear­ly five point lead. The Cow­boys then picked up a few ques­tion­able fouls let­ting the Rebels tie the game. The rest of the half was a strug­gle as both teams were fight­ing to get on top and stay there. There was about a three minute time frame where nei­ther team scored any points. Both teams were play­ing tough defense pre­vent­ing either team from get­ting open looks. With just under three min­utes to go in the half Cruz hit a three to tie the game and give Wyoming con­fi­dence. Des­mar then got three points the old fash­ioned way fol­lowed by a short jumper by Cruz to give the Cow­boys a five point lead. With ten sec­onds left Wyoming forced a turnover but was unable to score again before the end of the half. Even with­out a final sec­ond shot the Cow­boys entered the half with a 31–23 lead. The sec­ond half was like watch­ing a dif­fer­ent game as Wyoming strug­gled and UNLV did not. UNLV opened the sec­ond half with a quick bas­ket and Wyoming answered a few sec­onds lat­er. The first few min­utes both teams just trad­ed bas­kets with­out miss­ing a shot; this streak was bro­ken when Lus­ter missed a jumper. Not long after that the Rebels had the lead down to only two. Wyoming took a time­out to regroup which seemed to work as they came back with thun­der. Des­mar was fouled on a layup giv­ing him a chance to bring the lead back to five. After this point Wyoming began to strug­gle and the Rebels took advan­tage of this. After tak­ing the lead the Rebels had an answer for every­thing Wyoming did. Wyoming dug them­selves into a hole in the sec­ond half that once in they could not get out of. With a lit­tle over five min­utes left Wyoming start­ed to play like they did in the first half again. They were get­ting their rhythm back but at about this time Antho­ny scored four quick points for the Rebels to regain the momen­tum. At the end of the game UNLV was on fire and Wyoming could not get any­thing to go their way. The Rebels were knock­ing down shots and Wyoming could not get shots to fall. Wyoming put up a fight but it was not enough to over­come the Rebels almost flaw­less sec­ond half play. In the end UNLV got a 74–65 win over the Cow­boys.

JayDee Lus­ter goes hard to score against the UNLV Rebles. (John McK­night / LFP)

In the first half the Cow­boys held UNLV to 31% shoot­ing while shoot­ing 41.4%. Wyoming also won the bat­tle of points in the paint and scored more points off turnovers. The first half of the game was one of Wyoming’s best halves this sea­son. Giv­en the qual­i­ty of oppo­nent they real­ly could not have played bet­ter. The sec­ond half the Rebels moved the ball bet­ter and the Cow­boys strug­gled to get stops. UNLV got 14 assists on 21 bas­kets in the half which led to 65.6% shoot­ing; when a team shoots that well in a half it is hard to beat them. Wyoming shot the ball 43.6% on the game but they wish they would have shot bet­ter at home. One of the biggest prob­lems for the Cow­boys was rebound­ing. The Rebels dom­i­nat­ed the boards which was a big fac­tor in them tak­ing this game. The Cow­boys missed five free throws in the sec­ond half which hurt them; mak­ing these shots could have helped them turn the game around. Wyoming played a good game but UNLV is a good team and played a lit­tle bet­ter.

If we get stops we can run and score” was a quote that stood out from Cruz. They did this well in the first half but in the sec­ond half UNLV shot lights out. Coach Schroy­er main­ly talked about how they played well in the first half but not in the sec­ond half. The play­ers and Schroy­er said that com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the sec­ond half was a prob­lem. In the first half the team was play­ing good help defense but in the sec­ond half they did not do this as well. The Cow­boys fol­lowed the ball but this left play­ers open and they claimed bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion would have solved this prob­lem. Wyoming has now dropped four straight games but Schroy­er keeps point­ing out that the Moun­tain West is a strong league. Some­body has to lose in every game and when you play in a qual­i­ty league get­ting wins is not an easy task. The MWC is a tough con­fer­ence this year and ranks high­er than a few con­fer­ences that are usu­al­ly bas­ket­ball pow­ers such as the ACC. On the sur­face the Cow­boys do not appear to be doing very well but when they are looked at deep­er they are not doing that bad. The MWC is real­ly strong this year, Wyoming is not play­ing at 100% health this year and they brought a num­ber of new play­ers into the team this year. Giv­en these cir­cum­stances Wyoming is doing bet­ter than their record shows.