‘Next question': Why is Graham Ike not getting to the line more?
LARAMIE -- Jeremiah Oden didn't mince words after Monday night's home loss to San Diego State.
"It's very unbelievable," the freshman forward said.
Jeff Linder let out an audible laugh, followed by "next question."
Wyoming's second-year head coach wasn't about to find himself in hot water with the Mountain West Conference for publicly questioning officials, but he is just as floored as Oden that Graham Ike has made just one trip to the free-throw line in two of the Cowboys' last three games.
Not surprising, Wyoming dropped both of those.
"I know exactly what you're saying," Linder said when asked how his 6-foot-9 forward made just one trip to the stripe on 12 shots in a 73-66 setback against the Aztecs. "It's one of those deals where you have a veteran, good crew and you can't assume that they're gonna call it. You have to play through it. They're going to let you play and you have to find a way to go finish."
Ike hit just four of those dozen attempts in the loss. On his one trip to the line, he sank both shots.
Against Colorado State last Wednesday in Fort Collins, the Aurora product also hit both of his freebies. That lone trip came on 13 shots from the field in a 61-55 loss to the Rams.
Ike averages 20.3 points per night, good enough for second in the conference behind UNLV's Bryce Hamilton, who nets 21.8. In those two UW losses, Ike averaged just nine.
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Ike used to be the proud owner of the most free-throw attempts in the country, averaging nearly eight per outing. Now, he ranks fourth with 206, one ahead of teammate Hunter Maldonado.
In Wyoming's six losses this season, the Cowboys' big man has averaged just 4.6 attempts. In their 23 victories, that number sits at nearly seven.
Maldonado, who averages nearly 7.1 shots from the charity stripe a night, has also been limited to just seven attempts over the last three outings. Wyoming's point guard didn't head to the line one time against CSU.
The redshirt junior echoed Linder's sentiments.
"I think, obviously, it's getting pretty physical," Maldonado said Monday night. "(Ike) was leading the nation in fouls drawn. I was up there, too. I mean, today we only got eight fouls total, together. Usually Graham averages that in one game, so obviously they are letting them be physical. We're going to have to find ways around it."
Oden, who matched a career high with 17 points against SDSU, was a little less thrilled about the situation.
"I mean, he's getting killed down there," he said. "I'm no referee, but it looks like fouls to me."
The Cowboys (23-6, 12-4) are in Las Vegas tonight where they are facing a must-win situation against the Rebels, who have won three of their last four games. With Boise State claiming the regular-season crown Tuesday night with a victory over Nevada, Wyoming is battling for seeding at the upcoming Mountain West Tournament.
UW's NCAA Tournament aspirations are not exactly cemented, either.
UNLV (17-12, 9-7) commits nearly 18 team fouls per night, the second most in the league behind New Mexico. Royce Hamm Jr., the Rebels' 6-foot-9, 225-pound senior forward, has fouled out of three games this season and has finished with at least four fouls in 12 outings.
Maybe UNLV is just what the doctor ordered?
Linder isn't buying it.
"It's tough, but he's got to find a way to fight through some of those things and can't react to the officiating," he said of Ike. "You can't react to no-calls, you have to keep playing. That's something that he's going to have to continue to get better at."
The Cowboys and Rebels are set to tipoff at 8:30 p.m. inside the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be televised on FS1.
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