LARAMIE -- I hope you paid real close attention tonight to that team in blue.

That's exactly what Jeff Linder is attempting to build here in Laramie.

Are they there yet? Obviously not, but the foundation -- believe it or not -- is starting to set despite the optics of a lopsided 83-60 loss to Boise State inside an empty Arena-Auditorium.

That score -- yeah, it's hideous.

So are some of the stats.

Here's one that can't sit well with anyone in the home locker room: 16-0. That's second-chance points for the Broncos.

Or how about this one: 47-23. That's the final rebound total. Boise State owned the glass, especially on the offensive end where its size, length, and yes, effort, led to a 15-3 advantage.

The Broncos scored 30 points off the bench. Wyoming, 19. It wasn't that close in reality. Ten came midway through the second half. Xavier DuSell was responsible for those.

Points in the paint, once again, were in favor of the opposition with Eion Nelson on the shelf with a left leg injury. Boise State held a 48-30 advantage there. Wyoming was shutout in the fast-break point category, 10-0.

How about 20-2? That's the run the Broncos went on to close this one out. It was as impressive as it looks.

The visitors shot nearly 52 percent from the field. The Cowboys, 39.

"It's a good lesson for our guys when you play against a real team," Linder said. "A team that's won a lot of games in a row, been in a lot of big games and understands when they have to turn it up a notch."

You might be asking where my optimism is steaming from at this point. On paper, this one was the rout it appeared to be on the scoreboard. Yet these young Cowboys -- somehow, someway -- got this one to within five points with under 8:00 remaining.


That lift from DuSell certainly helped. So did a few steals and some timely stops. Marcus Williams got hot in spurts. He finished with a team-high 16. Though he was in foul trouble throughout, Hunter Maldonado also had his moments in the paint, netting 10.

The secondary scoring, coupled with all those lopsided stats above, led to this outcome.

One of these teams has two seniors and six juniors. The other, zero seniors and seven freshman, three of which play significant minutes. Guess which one came away with a victory tonight?

One day, maybe even sooner rather than later, we might be writing this exact column about what the Cowboys did to an opponent. It's hard to see through all those missed rebounds, shots and opportunities now, but Wyoming could be closer than you might think.

The Cowboys got beat tonight by Linder's blueprint.

The Broncos' crisp passing, offensive sets and give-and-goes were pretty, but it was the pressure on 3-point shooters, clogging the lane and pulling down boards that Linder craves with his new squad. Boise State made it look all too effortless. They also made life miserable on Wyoming shooters.

Nothing came easy tonight.

"Oh, Absolutely," DuSell said when asked if this is Boise State team is what his team is supposed to look like. "I mean, that's a program that's been, you know, in the works for 10 years now. This is obviously our first year together. So I mean, obviously, it just comes with time, you know, and putting in the work every every single day.

"I think we'll be just fine."

So do I.

Are there warts? Absolutely.

Are the big scoring nights from the opposing big men getting troublesome? You bet. You can throw rebounding in there, too.

Abu Kigab Scored 21. Mladen Armus finished with 12 to go along with 14 boards in this one.

Yeah, those are eyebrow raising numbers. There's going to be nights like this.

Linder likes to reference his former teams when he talks about his current one. The Boise State team he helped lead to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 was undersized and loaded with youth. They took their lumps -- all the way to Dayton for the first round.

If you want a glimpse of what this Cowboy team could look like in the near future, tune in to Wednesday night's rematch with the Broncos.

"Well, I mean, there's no question," Linder said when asked if this is what he wants his team to look like. "I mean, you saw in terms of just their versatility and just having so many different guys that can beat you."



About those rebounds

Linder, obviously, was not thrilled with the 47-23 advantage Boise State enjoyed on the glass tonight.

Once again, he reverted back to a former coaching stop. This time, his four years down the road in Greeley at Northern Colorado. The Bears, he boasted, were always a Top-25 team when it came to rebounding. It was a pride thing. It also led to more wins. A lot more.

"It's not like we don't work on it; we emphasize them," Linder said. "It's a big part of our program, is the ability to limit teams to one shot."

That didn't happen tonight. The Broncos camped out in the paint, started a bonfire, cracked some beers -- non-alcoholic, of course -- and roasted some marshmallows.

It was that bad.

Hunter Thompson has been given the unfortunate task of limiting the opposing big man without Nelson or Graham Ike in the lineup. By now, you know that's not where he makes his living. It's out of necessity at this point. Yes, he's 6-feet, 10-inches, but that doesn't mean he is built to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Armus, who is just as tall and much larger in stature.

Tonight, he was underneath the hoop numerous times as the ball found its way to a player in blue.

"Thompson's going to have to find a way," Linder said of rebounding. "I don't know if he can? And if he can't, at some point, then we have to find somebody that can. If he can't go rebound, he can't play."

This, of course, wasn't all on the big man from Pine Bluffs. It was a team effort -- or lack there of.

"We could give more," Williams said. "I mean, it's just about heart really -- and fight ... It's go up, find a body and go get the body. We stand around and watch too much, as a as a unit."

DuSell agreed.

"I just think that it got to a point where we stopped rebounding and we didn't have enough assertiveness on defense," he said. "And it just kind of showed that they were able to get easy buckets and a lot of points in transition."

Wyoming has to close the gap in this department. Even if Kigab or Armus have a career night offensively Wednesday, they can't have a defensive one, too.



Scared? This group?

Williams certainly wasn't lacking confidence after this one.

"I mean, yeah, it was kind of tough just knowing that we lost by 23 and that we could have won that game by 10 or 20," he said. "... We can beat those guys just how they beat us."

Wow. OK.

Williams said the team wanted to win this one for Linder, who was going up against his former boss and mentor, Leon Rice.

They'll have a second crack at that in less than 48 hours.

DuSell said he made up his mind pregame that he wasn't just going to play a few minutes off the Cowboys' bench and hope for some good things to happen.

"I know what I'm capable of," he said. "So, you know, you saw what happened."

Yes we did. You have to love the confidence, right?

We know Kwane Marble isn't scared. He once again found himself in the paint battling with the big boys. Same can be said for Maldonado and Kenny Foster. The layups were certainly falling more so than they did in the series finale in Fresno.

Still, there has to be more.

I'm going to beat this dead horse into the dirt, but you can see glimpses of what's to come in the future. I see some Derrick Alston Jr. in Jeremiah Oden.

Yes, Alston is the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year. And despite scoring just four points tonight, two came on a thunderous two-handed dunk to open the scoring in the second half.

He has a burst. An explosion. He has also played in 88 Division-I basketball games. Oden, 10.

Boise State will likely have 6-foot, 8-inch Emmanuel Akot (Achillies) back Wednesday night. Alston was injured midway through the second half. His status is unclear.

Either way, as you saw tonight, this team is loaded. Seven different guys got on the scorer's sheet. Arizona transfer Devonaire Doutrive had his first breakout game in a Broncos' uniform, netting 21.

Still, this young group of Pokes thinks they have a chance.

It's yet another chance for growth, that we know for certain. I'm sure that's something we will continue to say a lot this season.

"I mean, we have a lot of heart and a lot of fighters within our guys," Williams said. "We just have to keep our foot on the gas the whole 40 minutes."

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