* University of Wyoming press release

EL PASO, Texas – The Wyoming Cowboys used a 12-0 run in the second half on their way to a 78-65 win over Summit League favorite South Dakota State at the Weststar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday.

Wyoming will play in the championship game on Thursday. Wyoming shot 50 percent from both the field and behind the arc on the night.

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“We had great response from our guys tonight,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “Our effort tonight was tremendous. It started with stopping South Dakota State’s best player in Zeke Mayo. (Brendan) Wenzel and (Kobe) Newton did outstanding work guarding him. We got great effort from our front court guys tonight. Their presence and physicality was special. Holding a team to36 percent is how you win games.”

Akuel Kot led all scorers with 22 points on the night for the Brown and Gold. He was 4-of-7 from behind the arc. Mason Walters, who was playing in his first game added 12 points. Brendan Wenzel and Sam Griffin added nine points with Griffin adding a career-high nine rebounds. Caden Powell added eight points and eight rebounds.

The Pokes shot 51 percent from the field on the night and held South Dakota State to 36 percent from the field and 21 percent from behind the arc. UW has held opponents to under 40 percent from the field four times this season. Wyoming shot 50 percent from behind the arc for the fourth game shooting 50 percent or better in the last five games.

The Jackrabbits go off to a fast start racing out to a 12-6 lead in the first five minutes of the contest. Cam Manyawu made it a 12-11 game with 14:26 left in the first half. Kobe Newton gave the Cowboys a 17-14 lead on a three pointer off the inbounds at the 12:19 mark of the frame.

Wenzel added a three-pointer and Oleg Kojenets gave the Pokes energy off the bench with a bucket to fuel an 11-0 run and a 22-14 lead halfway through the half. SDSU went on a 7-0 run and made it a 22-21 contest, but Sam Griffin added a bucket and later a free throw to halt the run and give Wyoming a 25-21 lead with under eight minutes left in the half.

Kojenets added a pair of buckets and recorded a steal that led to a three pointer by Kot for a 36-28 lead with two and a half minutes left in the first half. Wyoming would take a 36-31 lead into the break, as UW held the Jackrabbits to 37 percent from the field.

South Dakota State tied the contest in the early going of the second half. The Pokes held SDSU scoreless for over two minutes and built a 44-38 lead thanks to a three-pointer from Kot with 14:54 left in the game.

SDSU cut the Cowboy lead to one point at 46-45 with 11:38 left in the contest. SDSU tied the contest with 10 minutes left. The Jackrabbits took a 51-49 lead, as part of an 11-3 run with 8:34 left in the game.

Walters hit a three-pointer and a and-one play from Kot made it a 57-51 game with under seven minutes left. Wenzel and Walters added buckets for a 12-0 run and a 61-51 lead with just over five minutes left in the contest.

The Cowboys would maintain the double-digit lead into the final minutes of the contest. SDSU made it a 72-64 contest with 1:41 left, but Kot sealed the game with a three for the 78-65 win and a spot in the title game.

South Dakota State was led by Charlie Easley with 17 points with William Kyle III adding 16 points.

The Cowboys will face either Norfolk State or UTEP tomorrow evening in a time to be determined.

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, 7220Sports.com counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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