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University of Wyoming basketball

UW and Basketball Coach Jeff Linder Agree to Contract Extension Through 2027

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University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman announced Wednesday the finalization of a contract extension with head men’s basketball coach Jeff Linder through April of 2027.

“I’m excited to be able to continue building this program for this great fan base, this great university and this great state,” Linder said.  “With these exceptional young men, incredible staff and all the special people involved we will continue to make history. Go Pokes!”

Terms of the five-year deal include annual guaranteed compensation (e.g., base salary, additional compensation, etc.)  of over $700,000 beginning on July 1, 2022.  Additional compensation is highly likely to be earned annually via incentives for academic and athletic performance goals.

“We are thrilled to be able to get a contract done that works for Coach Linder and UW,” Burman said. “He has done a great job transforming Cowboy basketball over the past two years.  We believe Cowboy basketball is in great hands and we can’t wait for next November. We also want to congratulate the basketball staff who have done a great job in this process.”

Linder recently finished his second season as head coach of the Cowboys leading Wyoming to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014-15. He became the first coach since Everett Shelton to take a Cowboy team to the NCAA Tournament in his second season.

The Pokes were also ranked in the top-25 for the first time since the 2014-15 season and earned their highest ranking since the 1988 season, as Wyoming ranked No. 22 in the nation.

Linder was named to the Werner Naismith Coach of the Year Late Season Watch List. He was one of 15 coaches named to the prestigious list and the only coach from the Mountain West Conference. The Pokes won 24 games during the regular season in a regular season since 1951-52.

Available for NEW season ticket holders (existing season ticket holders do not need to do a deposit) $25 deposit for 25 wins in 21-22. New season ticket holders can make a deposit to pick from the best available seats prior season tickets going on sale to general public.

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Wyoming Cowboys Make NCAA Tournament As 12th-Seed; Face Indiana in First Four on Tuesday

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The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team was tabbed a 12th-seed in the East Region during Sunday’s NCAA Championships Selection Show and will face Indiana on Tuesday in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio.

Wyoming is 25-8 on the season and recorded 24 wins during the regular season for the most since the 1951-52 season. 

The Pokes will be dancing for the first time since 2015 and 16th time in program history. 

It marks the first time since the 2002 season that the Pokes have earned an at-large bid.

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Wyoming Cowboys Rally Late to Defeat UNLV in Quarterfinals

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Xavier DuSell drilled a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to give the Wyoming Cowboys a 57-56 lead, which was then followed by a defensive stop and a pair of Brendan Wenzel free throws with three seconds to go as the Cowboys escaped with a 59-56 Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal victory over UNLV Thursday afternoon.

The Cowboys scored the game’s final seven points to claim victory. It marked the first time UW has won in the Thomas & Mack Center against UNLV since 2003.

“I mean, we wouldn’t expect anything different,” head coach Jeff Linder said. “That’s the way the season’s gone for us. I mean, we’ve been in more close games than probably any team in the country. And that’s how this conference has been from top to bottom.”

UNLV opened the scoring on their first possession, but the Pokes answered with a 5-0 run over three plus minutes for a 5-2 game four minutes into the contest. The Runnin’ Rebels hit a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game, but Maldonado added a pair of buckets and slam from Jeremiah Oden to make it a 11-4 game with 13:58 left in the first half.

The Pokes held UNLV without a field goal nearly 12-minute to take a 18-6 lead with under eight minutes left in the first frame. Wenzel spearheaded the Cowboy run with five points coming on free throws and a triple.

“I thought our guys tonight, you know, as much as sometimes people want to talk about us offensively, me offensively, we know at the end of the day it’s our defense that gives us a chance to win a championship,” Linder said. “And I thought our guys did a really good job of understanding the game plan.”

UNLV would battle back and make it a nine-point contest at 22-13 near the five-minute mark of the half and a three-pointer from Royce Hamm made it a 22-16 game at the 3:27 mark. But Drake Jeffries responded with a triple to push it back to a nine-point lead and Noah Reynolds made it a 27-16 game with under two minutes left in the half.

The Runnin’ Rebels would threaten the lead, but Reynolds would help lead the Pokes to a 31-22 lead at the half. Wyoming shot 41 percent from the field and held UNLV to 29.6 percent.

UNLV would make it a five-point game at 31-26 in the opening ninety seconds of the first half. Maldonado pushed the lead to seven at 33-26, but Bryce Hamilton added an and-oine play for a 33-29 game with 16:47 remaining in the contest.

The Cowboys would go on a 5-0 run to push the lead back to nine points 38-29 with under 15 minutes remaining. But Hamilton added another and-one play for a four-point game at 38-34 at the 13:21 mark. Donovan Williams added a triple seconds later for a one-point contest.

Williams gave the Runnin’ Rebels the lead with a pair of free throws for a 39-38 game. But Ike added a bucket for a 40-39 game with just a few ticks under 11 minutes left in the game. After Ike made it a three-point game, The Runnin’ Rebels went on a 6-0 run for a 45-42 lead with 8:37 left in the game.

The Pokes would battle back and tie the game at 49-49 on a Brendan Wenzel three ball with 5:22 left in the game. Jeffries hit a three as well and gave Wyoming a 52-51 lead with just under five minutes left. A free throw by UNLV made it a tie game with 3:50 remaining.

Williams would hit back-back buckets to give UNLV a 56-52 lead with 2:11 remaining. DuSell made it a two-point game with free throws with 1:47 remaining, which began UW’s late run.

UNLV was led by a pair of Runnin’ Rebels that scored 20 or more as Bryce Hamilton scored a game-high 22 while Donovan Williams had 20. For the game, UNLV shot 35-percent from the floor and went 3-of-21 from 3-point range. The Cowboys shot 36.5-percent for the game and went 6-for-21 from beyond-the-arc.

A trio of Cowboys led the way in double figures as Wenzel paced UW with 12 points and tied a career-high with seven rebounds. Maldonado and Ike had 11 points each, while Ike recorded his 14th double-double of the season as he pulled down a game-high 13 boards. Maldonado added a game-best five assists in the win and surpassed Sean Dent for the most career assists in program history with 503. DuSell and Jeffries chipped in with eight points each.

Wyoming (25-7) moves on to face regular season champion Boise State in the tournament semifinals in a 7:30 p.m., MT tip-off on the CBS Sports Network.

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Cowboys Down Lobos In Wild Shootout, 93-91; Pokes Off To Best Start In 7 Years

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The Wyoming Cowboys downed the New Mexico Lobos in a wild shootout inside the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday evening by a score of 93-91. The Pokes shot 58 percent from the field with the Lobos shooting 54 percent, as the Pokes move to 15-2 overall and 4-0 in the conference for the best start since the 2014-15 season.

“That was our fourth game in eight days, and I want to thank the students and the fans for turning the Double A into the Dome of Doom there for a little while tonight,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said.

“Our guys keep finding ways to win.  They stuck together.  There are some things we’re going to have to take from tonight and learn from them.  You’re not going to win a lot of games if you allow teams to shoot 66 percent in the second half like we did tonight.”

Both team’s shot lights out in the second frame. Wyoming shot 73 percent in the stanza going 16-of-22 and went 15-of-17 inside the arc. The Lobos stayed in the game shooting 64 percent from the arc in the second half. The Lobos hit 10 threes in the contest, as Wyoming had held opponents to under 10 threes in 28-straight games.

“That is a team (New Mexico) if you look at their record you might not think the game should be as close as it was, but if you watch New Mexico in the other conference games they’ve played this year they’ve played everybody tough in this league,” Linder said. That game tonight was the same game Colorado State had to play the other night to get their win over New Mexico.”

The Pokes were led by Graham Ike with 29 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. He has scored 20 or more points in nine games. Hunter Maldonado added 25 points with seven assists and six rebounds. It marked the first time since Jan. 31, 2018 that two players scored 25 or more points in a game. Hayden Dalton had 26 points with Justin James adding 25 in a win at Colorado State.

Brendan Wenzel added 13 points on 4-of-8 from behind the arc. Wenzel has scored in double figures in back-to-back gam­­es. Drake Jeffries added 14 points with eight points in the second half.

The Pokes recorded a season-high 35 free throws shooting 77 percent. The Pokes recorded 34 rebounds and held the Lobos to only 23. The Pokes also added 11 second chance points with New Mexico adding only two. The Lobos did damage in transition off turnovers with 19 points off Cowboy miscues.

“In close games, when you have the ability to play inside out, like we can, even if you don’t get a basket inside you can kick it out for some easy threes,” Linder said.  “We created a lot of good threes off moving the ball — not as many in the second half as in the first.  We also did a good job of getting to the foul line.  We just found a way to win the game, and I’m proud of the guys effort.”

The Lobos opened the game hitting their first four shots of the game to take an early 9-8 lead. The Pokes opened 3-of-3 with a pair of triples and a layup. Wenzel would add back-to-back threes to give Wyoming a 14-11 lead at the 15:15 mark of the opening frame.

The Pokes went scoreless for nearly three minutes, as the Lobos took a 17-15 lead, but Wenzel cut the streak, but New Mexico’s Jay Allen-Tovar added an and-one play for a 20-18 lead at the 11:36 mark. Jeffries would add a paint-touch three ball to give Wyoming a 25-22 lead at the 9:33 mark of the stanza.

Neither team could find a bucket for over three minutes until Wenzel added his fourth three-pointer of the half followed by a trip of free throws from Noah Reynolds for a 34-27 lead with under five minutes left in the half.

After the Pokes took an eight-point lead, the Lobos went on a 5-0 run to make it a 37-34 game with just over two minutes left in the half. The Pokes closed the frame on a 4-0 run holding the Lobos to 0-4 from the field to take a 41-34 lead into the break.

The Pokes pushed the lead to 10 points at 47-47 early in the first half with a pair of buckets from Ike and layup from Maldonado. The Lobos cut it back to six with a pair of quick buckets. But Ike would push it back to 10 points at the line for a 51-41 game with under 17 minutes left.

The Lobos would hit a pair of three-pointers to make it a four-point game at 51-47 with 14:58 left in the game. The Pokes would head to the paint to push the lead back to eight points at 57-49 thanks to a bucket from Jeremiah Oden.

But the shooting of the Lobos would make it a four-point game at 59-54 at the 11:36 mark. The Pokes would push the lead to nine points with under nine minutes left. But back-to-back dunks from Jamal Mashburn Jr. and a layup from Javontae Johnson it made it a 69-66 game in favor of the Pokes with 7:24 left in the game.

The Lobos would make it a one-point game on a Mashburn three-pointer, but Jeffries answered back for a 76-72 game with 4:55 left. Allen-Tovar made it a two-point game with four minutes left and the teams would go back and forth between a two- and four-point contest over the next three minutes.

The Pokes would take the ball back with 44 seconds left after a Lobo turnover. The Pokes missed three-straight free throws until Reynolds made it a five-point game at 87-82 with 42 seconds remaining. KJ Jenkins hit three-straight free throws to make it a two-point contest at 87-85 with 32 seconds remaining.

Jeffries added a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game at 89-85 with 29 seconds remaining. House would make it a two-point game and things would get interesting from there. The Pokes would turn the ball over, but Mashburn would be called with a charge followed by a bench technical, as the Pokes would seal the game late at the line. Wenzel made it a four-point game and House hit a shot late for a 93-91 win for the Pokes.

The Lobos were led by Allen-Tovar with 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Mashburn added 22 points going 10-of-17 from the field in the contest.

Wyoming heads to Boise State on Tuesday evening for a 7 p.m. start in a contest on the MW Network and Stadium.

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Cowboys’ Marcus Williams — Mountain West Freshman of the Year — Enters Transfer Portal

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By Tracy Ringolsby, WelcomeTo72220.com

Eighteen months ago, Marcus Williams initially committed to play for Northern Colorado and the Bears coach at the time, Jeff Linder. When Linder resigned from the Northern Colorado job to become the head coach at Wyoming in mid-March 2020, Williams quickly withdrew his commitment to the Bears, and began a Wyoming Cowboy.

But not for long. Oh, he played his freshman season for the Cowboys, and was selected the freshman of the year in the Mountain West Conference.

On Tuesday, however, Williams announced he had entered the transfer portal, which prompted a brief statement by Linder that was issued by the athletic department, which indicated that Williams would not be returning. A player can withdraw from the transfer portal and return to his original school, but only if the decision to return is welcomed by both parties.

“We thank Marcus for his contributions to our program and we wish him well in the future,” Linder said in the statement.

That was followed by the line: Linder will not have any further comment in regard to Williams’ transfer.

Williams is the second Cowboy to enter the transfer portal since the season ended. Two weeks ago, sophomore Kwane Marble II announced he was transferring Loyola Marymount where former Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards is an assistant coach.

Linder preaches defense and team play, and there were signs in the second half of the season that he was challenging Williams. When the Cowboys played Boise State on Jan. 31, Williams was not in the starting lineup for the only time all season. Linder was sending a message about the importance of defense.

And it was a statement, but obviously not a punishment in light of the fact that Williams wound up playing 30 minutes in that game. Hunter Maldonado, who played 32 minutes, was the only member of the Cowboys to get more floor time than Williams.

In the final seven games of the season, Williams scoring average dropped to 12.6 points per game, including just four points in the regular-season finale against Utah State, in which he played a season-low 22 minutes.

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Cowboys Put Up a Fight, But No. 1 Seed San Diego State Survives, Wyoming Eliminated

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LAS VEGAS  – The Wyoming Cowboys took top-seeded and No. 19 San Diego State to the wire in a 69-66 loss in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Air Force Reserve MW Basketball Championship. The contest featured 14 leads changes and saw the game tied 19 different times. Wyoming finishes the season with a 14-11 overall record.

“For our guys to executive the game plan on a quick turn around with such a young group you can see us getting better, but we were just one possession short,” Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder said. “We did a great job of keeping them out of the paint and making certain guys beat us, which gave us an opportunity to win. They are the benchmark of the league and it was a great test for us as a program.”

Wyoming was paced by a career-high from freshman Xavier DuSell with 21 points. He hit a career-best six threes. Junior Hunter Maldonado added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Freshman Marcus Williams added 12 points and a team-high five assists finishing the tournament with 15 helpers. Freshman Graham Ike added 10 points and led the team with nine rebounds. The UW freshman combined for 43 of the 66 points for 65 percent of the scoring.

The Cowboys hit 12 threes on the night shooting 48 percent from behind the arc. San Diego State shot 49 percent from the field for the afternoon and went 12-of-13 from the free throw line. Wyoming held a 28-26 advantage on the glass for the night.

Both teams got off to fast starts offensively in the opening minutes of the contest for a 9-9 game in the opening four-plus minutes. The Cowboys opened 4-of-5 from the field hitting their first four shots, as the Aztecs went 4-of-6 from the field.

The Aztecs went on a 4-0 run to take an 18-14 lead on the Pokes with 12:58 left in the opening frame. DuSell hit his third triple of the game to make it a 20-19 game for San Diego State with 8:50 left in the half and then hit his fourth just over a minute later that tied the game at 22-22.

The Cowboys took their first lead of the afternoon at 29-27 on a pair of free throws from Ike. The Aztecs would battle to take the lead back with another Pulliam jumper for a 30-29 lead with 3:17 left in the frame. The Cowboys used the free throw line to take the lead back this time with two from junior Drake Jeffries for a 32-30 game with 1:39 remaining in the opening 20 minutes.

The SDSU’s Terrell Gomez added an and-one play in the closing seconds to give the San Diego State a 33-32 lead at the half, as Wyoming went without a field goal in the final 5:17 of the first half.

After the teams’ traded three pointers to open the second half and after a Pulliam jumper, sophomore Kenny Foster knocked down a three-pointer for a 38-38 game with 18 minutes remaining. The contest would once again be tied at the free throw this time from Maldonado for a 44-44 game with 13:35 on the clock.

After the Aztecs built a three-point lead at 49-46 using a 5-2 run, DuSell knocked down his fifth three-pointer followed by a three from Foster to give Wyoming a 52-49 lead with 9:39 remaining. SDSU would take a brief lead until Williams banked in a three-pointer to give Wyoming the upper hand at 55-53 at the 7:47 mark. Gomez tied the game just over a minute later for the Aztecs and later made it a two point game with 5:42 remaining.

DuSell got to his new career-high with his sixth triple for a 58-57 lead for the Pokes at the 5:20 mark, but Schakel responded with a triple to give SDSU the lead on the following possession. Ike gave Wyoming a one point lead, but a three from Gomez made it a 63-61 game in SDSU’s favor with 2:58 remaining.

Maldonado hit a step back triple at the 1:52 mark to give Wyoming a 64-63 lead, but Gomez hit free throws for a 65-64 San Diego State lead with 90 seconds remaining. That score would hold until later with the Aztecs knocking in free throws, but the Pokes had a chance late with a bucket, but fell short 69-66.

The Aztecs were led by Gomez with 20 points going 8-of-12 from the field. Pulliam and Schakel added 15 points apiece. Schakel led the team with six rebounds.

The Cowboys did not have one senior on the roster and will return every player next season.

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Cowgirls Go Dancing — Knock Off Fresno in MW Tournament Title Game

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For the time in program history, the Wyoming Cowgirls have won a postseason conference tournament as the seventh-seeded Cowgirls culminated their incredible Mountain West Tournament run by defeating No. 4 seed Fresno State, 59-56 in an all-time classic. 

The win gives Wyoming the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which will be the Cowgirls second trip the NCAAs in program history. Wyoming last made the “Big Dance” back in 2008 where it lost to Pittsburgh.

Quinn Weidemann, who was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player postgame, led the Cowgirls with 14 points and drilled four 3-pointers in the win. Weidemann also added four assists and four boards on the night.

McKinley Bradshaw was the other Cowgirl in double figures as she added 13 off the bench while Grace Ellis tied a career-high with nine points and grabbed a career-best five boards. Tommi Olson, who joined Weidemann on the All-Tournament Team, had three points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Alba Sanchez Ramos’ blocked shot of MW Player of the Year Haley Cavinder with one second remaining secured the victory for the Cowgirls. Sanchez Ramos’ final line was eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and that game-sealing block.

“I’m out of words right now,” said Head Coach Gerald Mattinson.

“The effort that they put into this and the way they’ve played during this stretch, it speaks so highly of them. Who they are and what they’ve become, the toughness that this team has shown and that they play with, it’s a credit to them.”

Both teams got out to strong starts in the contest, but Fresno State hit five of its first eight shots and had a 14-10 lead at the first quarter media timeout. After the timeout, both teams went on three-plus minute scoring droughts before finding their rhythms late in the frame, as the Bulldogs extended their lead to 22-16 after one.

After the Bulldogs built up a 24-16 lead, back-to-back hoops and a sweet assist from Bradshaw got the Cowgirls back to within one, 24-23 with seven minutes to play in the half. Out of the media timeout in the quarter, a pair of Bradshaw free throws gave Wyoming its first lead of the game, 25-24. From that point, the Cowgirls continued their big run to end the quarter, going on a 16-0 run the final 8:50 of the frame and took a 32-24 lead into the break. Fresno State scored just two points in the second quarter.

In the third, Fresno State came out looking to make a run and cut into the Wyoming lead, but the Cowgirls found their footing and led 41-33 at the media, with Ellis heading to the line to shoot one free throw. The Bulldogs would go on a run later in the frame, cutting the Wyoming lead down to 42-39. The Cowgirls would promptly score five straight to extend their lead back up before Fresno ended the quarter with a hoop to make it 47-41 Cowgirls after three complete.

A Jaye Johnson corner 3-pointer opened the scoring in the fourth and put Wyoming up 50-41. The Cowgirls called a timeout after a couple of shaky possessions offensively with 7:30 remaining in the contest and up by the same margin. Out of the timeout, the Bulldogs went on a run, outscoring the Cowgirls 9-2 over a stretch where Wyoming went without a field goal for over five minutes before a Grace Ellis layup ended the drought with UW up 54-50 with under four to play.

Bradshaw drilled a corner 3-pointer with 3:31 to go and Wyoming was back up seven, 57-50. The three-ball was followed by a Fresno State foul with 2:53 left, which led to the final media timeout of the game. Fresno State would show its mettle from there however, scoring six straight to cut the Wyoming lead down to just one with 32 seconds remaining.

Fresno had a chance to take the lead but missed a layup attempt with six seconds left and were forced to foul Ellis. Ellis went to the line and calmly knocked down both free throws to make it 59-56 with three seconds remaining. The Bulldogs took a timeout to advance the ball but Sanchez Ramos’ defensive play thwarted FSU’s final chance.

Wyoming shot 39.6 percent for the game and hit 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) from 3-point range while the Bulldogs shot 36.5 percent overall and went just 4-of-15 from beyond-the-arc. FSU outscored the Cowgirls 14-3 in points off turnovers and 32-20 in points in the paint while UW got 22 bench points and only starters scored for the Bulldogs.

“I’m happy for all of our fans, I’m happy for Tom (Burman), all of our administration and obviously the school and all of our fans. I’m just excited for everybody,” said Mattinson.

The Cowgirls now await to see who they will face at the NCAA Tournament. The Women’s NCAA Selection Show is set for Monday night at 5 p.m., Mountain Time and can be seen on ESPN.

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Cowboys Basketball Regular Season Ends Where It Was Supposed to Begin

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By Tracy Ringolsby, WelcomeTo7220.com

The Cowboys original basketball schedule had them hosting UNLV in Laramie Dec. 20 and Dec. 22. It never happened. COVID issues at UNLV led to those games being postponed.

Well, the Cowboys and UNLV made up for that — half way. The regular season came to a close at the AA on Saturday with Wyoming beating UNLV 80-69. 

Now it is off to the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas. The Cowboys face San Jose State in their tournament opener in at 5:30 tipoff on Wednesday night.

Here’s the irony: While Wyoming was scheduled to open the season against UNLV but wound up concluding it with a visit from UNLV, the Cowboys were supposed to close the regular season Feb. 25 and Feb. 27 against San Jose State, but those games were cancelled. Now the Cowboys are scheduled to face San Jose State in their MW Tournament opener. 

And Did You Know . . .

TEAM NOTES (courtesy Nick Seeman, Wyoming Athletics)

•Wyoming and UNLV met for the 60th time on Saturday.

•Wyoming now trails in the all-time series 19-41 in a series that dates back to 1966.

•The Pokes are 16-11 all-time against UNLV in Laramie.

•Wyoming closes out the regular season with a 13-9 overall record and a 7-9 mark in the MW.

•The Pokes shot 50 percent from behind the arc for the third game shooting 50 percent or more from

behind the arc this season

•The Cowboy bench added 31 points, outscoring UNLV 31-27. Wyoming is 8-0 when the bench

outscores the opponent.

•The Cowboys shot a season-high 55 percent from the field.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

•Freshman Graham Ike recorded 17 points for his fifth game in double figures this season

•Ike had 13 of his 17 points in the first half.

•Ike recorded a career-high eight made field goals.

•Junior Hunter Thompson added 12 points for his sixth game in double-figures and second-straight.

•Thompson hit four triples for the most in a game since hitting four in the series opener against New Mexico.

•Junior Hunter Maldonado added 12 points for his 17th game in double-figures this season and the

56th of his career.

•He also added nine rebounds and has right or more rebounds in four-straight games.

•Junior Drake Jeffries added 14 points for his seventh game in double-figures this season.

•He hit four three pointers and has four or more threes in five games this season. He has 50 threes on the season.

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