Logan, Utah *Courtesy University of Wyoming Athletics Media and Public Relations
LOGAN, Utah (March 5, 2014) – Sophomore guard Josh Adams scored 21 points and the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team was within two points of Utah State with five minutes remaining, but the Aggies closed the game on a 15-6 run to earn a 65-54 Mountain West win on Wednesday night in the Smith Spectrum. The Cowboys (17-13, 8-9 MW) have held a halftime lead in their last two contests, but have come up short in both.
“We talked at halftime about what we haven’t done in the second half, so our guys came out and went right at [Utah State] and got a nice eight-point lead,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “They took over on the glass, though, from about the 14-minute mark to the five-minute mark, where there was a major difference in rebounds. They beat us 29-10 on the glass in the second half.”
Wyoming held a 29-26 halftime lead and extended the advantage to eight points early in the second half, before a 10-0 run from the Aggies (17-13, 7-11 MW) put them up two with 14 minutes remaining. The Pokes quickly retook the lead, but Utah State crafted another 10-2 run for a five-point advantage at 48-43 with just over five minutes to go. Adams would hit a three to pull the Pokes within two, but that would be as close as Wyoming could get, as the Aggies made their final push.
“We played so hard on defense tonight and were so focused, but those second shots just hurt us so bad,” Shyatt said. “They just deflate you. There was no lack of trying from us tonight, but they had such a presence on the boards in the second half and that was the difference.”
Adams became the second Cowboy to post back-to-back 20-point games this season, as he scored a career-high 29 against Boise State last Saturday. He added four assists and a steal against the Aggies. Senior guard Nathan Sobey finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and a career-high nine boards, while tying his career high with three steals.
Wyoming shot a season-low 36 percent (21-of-58) from the field and hit just 21 percent (5-of-24) beyond the arc and 58 percent (7-of-12) at the free throw line. Utah State connected on 43 percent (23-of-54) from the field and 29 percent (4-of-14) from deep. The Cowboys lost on the boards, 47-27, but committed a season-low three turnovers and 13-2 advantage in points off turnovers.
Utah State built a six-point lead through the first six minutes of a fast-moving first half, but the Cowboys hung tough and kept the lead to two possessions through the middle minutes. A fast-break layup from Sobey tied the contest at 20-20 with just under six minutes remaining, but the Aggies responded with back-to-back baskets to retake the lead. Wyoming would end the half on a 9-2, run, though to take a 29-26 lead at halftime. Sobey hit a three to spark the spurt and junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. and redshirt senior Jerron Granberry followed with old fashion three-point plays.
Cooke and Adams paced the Pokes with seven points apiece in the first half, but Wyoming shot just 39 percent (12-of-31) from the field and 23 percent (3-of-13) from beyond the arc. Utah State hit 40 percent (10-of-25) and 13 percent (1-of-8), respectively. The Aggies earned a narrow 18-17 advantage on the boards and 8-6 in assists.
Wyoming concludes the regular season by hosting Colorado State on Saturday at 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.