GAME NOTES: The Wyoming Cowboys try to follow up one of their most impressive defensive efforts in program history, as they host the Fresno State Bulldogs in Mountain West Conference play at Arena Auditorium.
Against a woeful San Jose State squad on Saturday, the Cowboys turned a 29-26 halftime deficit into a 46-38 win at The Event Center, the nine points allowed in the second half tying their own MWC record. With the win, the second in as many games, Wyoming is now 7-5 in conference play and that has the group all alone in fourth place in the standings.
Over on the other side, one could argue that Fresno State is perhaps the hottest team in the conference at the moment. Granted, the squad is only 13-13 on the campaign overall and a game under .500 in the MWC (6-7), but it is still hard to overlook the fact that the Bulldogs posted their fifth straight win on Saturday with a 75-66 decision versus Colorado State at home. Considering FSU had lost five straight prior to this run says something about the resiliency of the Bulldogs.
FSU won the first meeting of the season late last month by a score of 67-62 at home in the Save Mart Center. With the victory, the Bulldogs pushed their lead in the all-time series to 11-7 over the Pokes.
Tyler Johnson may have scored a team-high 18 points for the Bulldogs, shooting 3-of-4 behind the 3-point line, but it was a team effort as FSU took down visiting Colorado State over the weekend. Marvelle Harris accounted for 16 points, thanks to 10-of-11 shooting at the free-throw line, followed by Alex Davis with 14 points and both Allen Huddleston and Cezar Guerrero with 11 apiece in the triumph.
The leading scorer in four of the last five games, Johnson is still holding down the top spot on the season's scoring list with his 16.0 ppg, having made good on 42.5 percent of his chances beyond the arc over the course of his 22 appearances. Harris, one of three players to have started all 26 games for FSU, accounts for 14.6 ppg, while Guerrero pitches in not only 14.0 ppg but also a team-high 105 assists in order to keep the offensive moving efficiently.
Riley Grabau scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds from his guard position for the Cowboys on Saturday, but that was not the story of the game for the visitors. Instead, it was a defense that held host SJSU to a mere 28.3 percent shooting from the field for the entire game, including a feeble 4- of-20 in the second half alone. The Spartans were limited to only 6-of-25 beyond the arc and had one more turnover (14) than field goals (13).
Currently second on the team in scoring with 11.6 ppg, Grabau is playing in excess of 35 minutes per game and that average would be even larger if not for the fact that he has fouled out four times already. Of his 177 field goal attempts, Grabau has taken 132 from behind the 3-point line where he has converted 47.7 percent. On the interior, Larry Nance Jr. (15.3 ppg) handles much of the action with his 8.8 rpg and 53 blocked shots for a unit that is holding foes to only 59.6 ppg.
There is something to be said about a suffocating defense and the one that Wyoming puts on the floor can take down almost any opponent, which is what should happen here tonight in Laramie.
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