UW head coach Larry Shyatt
(San Jose, Calif.)– Junior guard Riley Grabau posted 18 and added a career-high nine rebounds, but it was another historic defensive effort that gave the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team a 46-38 win over San Jose State on Saturday afternoon at The Event Center. The Cowboys tied their own Mountain West record by allowing just nine points in the second half and allowed their fewest points ever in MW play.
“In 40 years of coaching, I’ve never been part of a team that played harder or smarter on the defensive end in the second half,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “We got to every possible loose ball in the second half. It wasn’t always pretty, but they did a great job of eliminating Larry Nance Jr. from our offense. We knew it was going to be a grind-it-out type of game.”
The Pokes (16-9, 7-5 MW) trailed 29-26 at halftime, but started the second half with a 7-0 run to go up by three. Wyoming would allow the Spartans (6-19, 0-13 MW) just four field goals, including one three, from there to slowly take the victory. SJSU kept the game within two possessions most of the second half, but managed just 28 percent (13-of-46) from the field for the game, a season low for a UW opponent, and only 20 percent (4-of-20) in the second half. The Spartans managed just six of 25 three-point attempts, including one past halftime. Grabau’s free throw with just over a minute left put the Pokes up eight, their largest lead of the game, and iced the contest.
Grabau’s night came on 5-of-11 from the field and 4-of-10 beyond the arc, as he has hit at least three treys in the last six games. His 63 threes this season move him into ninth on Wyoming’s single-season list. He also hauled in a career-high nine rebounds, tied a career high with two steals and added two assists. Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. grabbed nine rebounds as well, but scored just six points to break a streak of nine-straight games in double figures. He has scored less than 10 points in just five games this season.
The Cowboys shot 41 percent (17-of-42) from the field and 29 percent (5-of-17) from deep, while earning a 12-9 advantage in assists and 10-4 in steals. UW’s 10 steals were its second most this season, while it held an opponent to zero fast-break points for the eighth time in the last 11 games.
Wyoming started the game hot, hitting four of its first five shots, to jet out to a 7-0 lead, but San Jose State used an 8-0 run of its own to briefly take a lead. Back-to-back threes from Grabau and redshirt junior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. pushed the Pokes back in front, as they would hold the advantage the majority of the first half. The Cowboys extended the lead to as many as six points midway through the half, but the Spartans hung around thanks to the long ball. SJSU ended the half with three-straight treys to take a 29-26 lead into halftime.
Grabau paced the Pokes with 10 points in the first half, thanks in part to three threes, and added five rebounds. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. added six points, as Wyoming shot 44 percent (10-of-23) from the field and 40 percent (4-of-10) from deep. SJSU hit 36 percent (9-of-25) from the field, but 5 of its 14 three-point attempts for 36 percent from deep and added a 17-13 advantage on the boards. Both teams had six assists in the first half.
The Cowboys return home to host Fresno State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.