The Wyoming Cowboys remained perfect on the season with a 79-58 win over McNeese State in the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday afternoon. Wyoming dominated the paint in the contest scoring 36 points and added 18 points at the free throw line and held a 50-34 advantage on the glass. The Pokes are 8-0 on the season for the best start since opening 13-0 during the 2012-13 season.
“I thought our guys really executed the game plan well,” UW Head coach Jeff Linder said. We didn’t make as many mistakes as we did against Denver. We were more dialed in today. They (McNeese State) are a tough team to play because they are so physical and really athletic, so you have to fight through that. The officials can’t call a foul every time down. You have to fight through their (McNeese State’s) pressure, and that is good for us because that’s what we’re going to see when we play teams like San Diego State and Fresno State.
Forwards Graham Ike and Jeremiah Oden each added double-doubles in the game marking the second time this season (Maldonado and Ike at GCU) Wyoming has had two players with a double-double. Ike recorded 18 points and added 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Oden added 13 points and 10 rebounds. He was 5-of-7 from the field.
Guard Hunter Maldonado added 20 points to lead the Cowboys. He also added five rebounds and went 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Guard Brendan Wenzel added a career-high 11 points off the bench for the Cowboys. Guard Xavier DuSell added nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.
“I thought J.O. (Jeremiah Oden) and (Brendan) Wenzel did a tremendous job,” Linder said. “Brendan’s parents and grandma were here today and so it was good for them to see him play well, and he’s been playing well. He just needs to continue to get better. You can see with J.O. that he continues to get better and better. Noah (Reynolds) did a tremendous job, and we need that other guard to take some pressure off Maldo (Hunter Maldonado). The one thing about Noah is he’s not scared. In terms of confidence, he believes he’s the best player on the court and whether that is right or wrong I’d rather have a guy with that type of confidence rather than a guy you have to build up.”
The Cowboys shot 44 percent from the field in the game and held McNeese State to 35 percent. Wyoming recorded only seven turnovers for the fifth-straight game with 10 or fewer turnovers.
Neither team could muster much offense in the opening minutes of play. The Pokes took a 6-0 lead with all points from Ike. McNeese State opened the contest 0-9 from the field and got on the board at the 13:58 mark of the first frame.
The Cowboys would continue the solid defense and a and-one play from Brendan Wenzel made it a 12-5 contest with just under 12 minutes left in the first frame. McNeese State would us a 7–0 run to make it a four-point game at 16-14 in favor of UW with under eight minutes in the first stanza.
Another 7-0 run by McNeese State would give them a 21-18 lead at the six-minute mark. Wyoming would use a 6-0 scoring surge for a 24-21 lead, but McNeese responded with 5-0 run to later to take a 26-24 lead at the 2:55 mark of the frame.
Wyoming closed out the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 33-26 lead at the break. Oden started the run with a slam and a pair of freebies followed by five-straight points by Maldonado. McNeese State closed the half shooting 2-of-9 from the field.
UW opened the second half with a pair of buckets from Ike and Oden to take a 37-26 lead. Oden added a three-pointer to make it a 42-28 contest at the 16:47 mark. Maldonado would then take over for UW scoring eight-straight for the Pokes to build the lead to 50-35 with 13:20 left in the contest.
The Pokes would enjoy their double-digit lead thanks to Oden, as he reached his double-double and added a pair of buckets to build the lead to 60-45 with eight minutes left. Guard Drake Jeffries knocked down a three-pointer for a 69-50 lead for UW with 3:42 left in the game.
Wenzel helped the Pokes close the game with eight of Wyoming’s final 10 points, as Wyoming took the contest 79-58.
McNeese State was led by Trae English and Christian Shumate with 12 points apiece. Schumate led the team with eight rebounds.
The Cowboys hit the road for a matchup at No. 11 Arizona on Wednesday in a contest slated for a 8 p.m. start on the PAC-12 Network.