Story by Jared Newland

CHEYENNE -- How improbable was Wyoming’s win on Saturday against Colorado State?

Very. To say the least.

Let’s break it down for you.

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Per UW Athletics Media Relations, the Cowboys became only the fifth team to ever win a game when trailing by 11 or more points with less than a minute to play. According to ESPN Analytics, the Cowboys had less than a 1% chance of winning, .7% to be exact, after CSU’s Nique Clifford made it 64-53 Rams with 1:11 left in regulation. The chance of winning was even less after a Mason Walters layup made it a 64-55 game with 50.2 seconds left at .6%.

This is where it begins to get weird.

Cam Manyawu steals the inbound pass and calls timeout while sliding on his back out of bounds with 49.3 seconds remaining in front of the Cowboy bench. From all angles, it appeared to be a very questionable call (dare I say gift?) by the referees, but the Wyoming faithful will take it, of course.

Even after a Sam Griffin 16-foot jumper with 39.2 ticks on the clock made the score 64-57, the win probability was still at 98.2% for the Rams. With 29.2 remaining Clifford was fouled by Kot but missed the front end of the one-and-one.

Manyawu grabbed the rebound, Griffin then buried a 22-foot three-pointer with 18.1 to go. The Cowboys trailed 64-60 at this point and CSU’s win probability was still at 94.9%.

With just under 10-seconds left, Kot fouled Jalen Lake to send him to the line. Lake made the first free throw but missed the second and Walters grabbed the rebound. With the 65-60 lead, with 9.2 on the clock, the Rams win probability rose to 96.8%.

Here’s where it even gets more weird.

With 3.7 seconds remaining, Griffin was fouled on a three-point attempt by Josiah Strong. The transfer from Tulsa would sink the first two to make the score 65-62 and
then miss the third attempt on purpose in hopes of an offensive rebound for the Pokes.

Walters grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Clifford with 2.3 seconds left and went to the line to shoot two. He made the first attempt after it rattled around the rim to close the gap to 65-63. At this point CSU was given a 97.7% probability with escaping Laramie with the win. After Walters missed the second attempt, on purpose, the Pokes' Brendan Wenzel battled with Strong for the rebound. Initially, the play was called out of bounds off of Wenzel and most likely game over.

In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friends.

After video review, the referees called the ball out on Strong and awarded it to Wyoming. For those keeping score, it was the right call. Following a CSU timeout with 1.8 seconds remaining, Griffin lobbed the inbound pass over CSU’s Joel Scott into the hands of Walters. The senior dribbled once before going up with the right hand for the layup to send the game to overtime.

In the extra frame, the game went back and forth for the first three-and-a-half minutes.

With 1:38 remaining, the Rams do-everything player Isiah Stevens made only one of two free throws. After a CSU timeout, Wenzel made a layup on a nifty pass by Griffin to close the gap to 74-72 (69.9% CSU win probability).

With 1:11 left, Caden Powell blocked a Stevens layup and grabbed the rebound. Both teams would then trade missed three-point attempts.

Following a Wyoming timeout, Big Shot Kot would make a three-pointer after being fouled by Stevens and completed the four-point play to give the Cowboys a 76-
74 lead.

Stevens would then turn the ball over and Kot was fouled once again with nine-seconds remaining. He would make the first free throw and miss the second giving Wyoming a three point advantage (77-74). CSU’s Scott would make a bucket with three seconds remaining, bringing the game to 77-76. Kot was fouled on the next possession sending him to the charity stripe once again with 1.9 seconds left.

He would make both to give the Pokes a 79-76 lead.

The Rams were able to find Stevens on the inbounds play but his open 35-footer didn’t hit iron.

Game over, Cowboys Win, 79-76.

Back to the improbability of a Wyoming win.

As was mentioned earlier, there have been only five teams to ever win a game when trailing by 11 or more points with less than one minute remaining. Three times, it involved Mountain West games.

*  In the Second Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Texas A&M trailed by 12 (69-57) with 33 seconds left against Northern Iowa. The Aggies would win 92-88 in double-overtime.

* In 2005, UNLV was down 11 with :59 at SDSU and trailed 81-71 with 28.5 left, only to prevail 93-91 in OT.

* Nevada was down 11 (90-79) with :59 at New Mexico in 2017 to come back and win 105-104 in OT.

* Just last season, Iowa trailed by 11 (95-84) with :55 to Michigan State before winning 112-106 in OT in Iowa City.

* Wyoming was down by 11 (64-53) with less than one minute remaining and won 79-76 in overtime.

Not only was a Wyoming win improbable, covering the 8.5-point spread (according to ESPNBet) wasn’t likely with a minute remaining nor was the over 148.5 point total. With 52 seconds remaining in regulation the point total was 117, an easy cover for the under bettors and a long way to go for anyone who had the over.

CSU moneyline bettors were licking their chops with less than 30-seconds to go. For
the bettors who had Wyoming +8.5, good on you. A $100 bet would earn you $80 profit. For the gamblers who had Wyoming and the moneyline at + 290, great on you. That means a $100 bet on the Pokes would payout $290.

It's been a season of comebacks for teams of the Brown and Gold, from the 35-33 overtime win against Texas Tech, to the 22-19 victory against Appalachian State to the 16-15 walk-off against Toledo in the Arizona Bowl.

Jeff Linder's squad completed a 17-point comeback against San Jose State on a last-second shot by Kot. Saturday, the Pokes wrote another chapter, knocking off their most-hated rivals to the south.

Things do indeed get weird in Laramie.

POKES: The Seven Best Games In The History Of The Wyoming-CSU Border War Rivalry (Naturally, they were all Wyoming wins)

 

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