Gear up for gameday: Fresno State
FRESNO, Calif., -- Wyoming hadn't won a basketball game inside Fresno's Save Mart Center since 2018. The only other time a Cowboy team came out on top in that venue was in 2015. That was a triple-overtime thriller that saw Larry Nance lead the No. 25 team in the nation with 21 points in the 70-65 victory.
That all changed Saturday night.
Hunter Thompson netted a team-high 21 points while sinking 7-of-8 from beyond the arc in the 78-74 win. Marcus Williams and Hunter Maldonado each finished with 13 and Jeremiah Oden chipped in with 11 points in the second half.
Let's circle back to that 2015 squad.
There was the superstar in Nance, who is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There were also guys like Josh Adams, Derek Cooke Jr. and current Wyoming Director of Recruiting, Riley Grabau.
That team eventually won the Mountain West Tournament title and played Northern Iowa in the first round of the Big Dance.
All of those former players listed above were seniors aside from Adams, who was a junior. Larry Shyatt was in his fifth season in Laramie.
This current group of Cowboys -- most of them anyway -- weren't even in middle school then.
What does it all mean?
One of the youngest teams in the nation is surprising everyone, including at times its first-year head coach.
"We found a way to win," Jeff Linder said about his squad, which features zero seniors and six freshmen.
The Pokes (7-1, 1-0) have been doing a lot of that through the first eight games of the season. They have won six straight, but it hasn't always come easy.
They trailed big against Incarnate Word. They were down on the road at Oregon State and Utah Valley, too. Same can be said for the last non-conference game of the season against Omaha and the first league tilt of Linder's tenure Saturday night in California.
Some how, some way, these young buckaroos continue to be on the right side of the scoreboard when the final buzzer blares.
“It makes my blood pressure rise,” Linder joked Saturday night. “I’ll sleep a lot better when we find a way to win a little easier. To win in this league, you’ve got to find a way to win close games. Guys understand what we are trying to do late in games: get to the paint, get to the foul line and start sucking in the defense and hitting threes.”
Wyoming will go for the two-game sweep tonight in Fresno.
Here is all you need to know about tonight’s tilt in Fresno:
WHO: Wyoming (7-1, 1-0) at Fresno State (2-3, 0-3)
WHEN: Monday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. MST
WHERE: Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.
RADIO: Wyoming affiliates
STREAMING: Mountain West Digital Network
BOX SCORE: Live stats
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Fresno State
VEGAS ODDS: Fresno State -3, O/U 141.5
HISTORY: UW trails the all-time series 12-20 (Bulldogs swept the season series in 2020)
HEAD COACHES: Jeff Linder / Justin Hutson