Tucker’s 10 Takes: Another monster night from Maldo
FULLERTON, Calif., -- That Hunter Maldonado guy is pretty good, huh?
The redshirt junior looked well rested Monday night in southern California, netting a game-high 21 points and dishing out nine assists in the Cowboys 79-66 victory inside Titan Gym.
Maldonado, who just completed his 100th-career game in a Wyoming uniform, didn't suit up for UW's 108-59 win over Hastings last Friday night. He was resting a sore left knee.
And let's be honest -- they didn't need him.
Tonight, they did.
His point total was impressive. Cal State Fullerton (3-4) limited Graham Ike to just three points in the second half -- all of which came in the first minute -- and took away the right side of the floor.
So, Maldonado went left. A bunch.
Once again, the Colorado Springs native made the gliding hook shots, the pretty up-and-under buckets and kept a foot on the floor while defenders flailed through the air. Wyoming needed his points to win its third straight true road game of the season and move to 6-0, but tonight we saw another reason Jeff Linder loves Maldonado at the point-guard spot -- his vision.
"No, not really," Wyoming's second-year head coach said when asked if Maldonado ever surprises him with the cross-court laser passes and no-look dishes. "I mean, I saw that last year and that's why I decided to play him at the point is because he can just see things.
"... He just plays at his pace. And when he plays at his pace, he can he can pick you apart. My job is to put him in the best positions possible and it's his job to deliver. He's definitely done that."
Check out this Josh Allen impression below:
Maldonado is a matchup nightmare.
His incredible intuition gives him the opportunity to find openings all over the floor. What a luxury it is to have a guy run an offense from the inside out. And if teams continue to double Ike -- they will -- look for plenty of nights like this from No. 24.
Speaking of vision, bet you're glad he bought into Linder's and stuck around, huh?
* Xavier DuSell sank six of his 10 3-point attempts in that blowout win over the Broncos in Laramie. Linder said it was good for him to "see the ball go in the hole," something that wasn't happening over DuSell's first four games. The Arizona product connected on just seven from deep coming into the Hastings matchup. That was on 30 shots. Not horrible, but not what the freshman is capable of. Monday night at Fullerton, DuSell watched another four go through the cylinder on six shots. The kid is heating up.
* Linder knew EJ Anosike was going to pose a problem in this one. The Tennessee transfer averages 18.3 points per game to go along with nearly nine boards. Against the Cowboys, the 6-foot-7, 236-pound forward netted a team-high 19 points and pulled down four rebounds. Most impressive, he drew a comparison that we are all looking forward to in Mountain West Conference play. "He's kind of like a David Roddy," Linder said, referring to Colorado State's big man. "He's like an NFL tight end/ defensive end, where he couldn't just push Graham to the side, which is what he's done all year long. That's why he's averaging what he's averaging." Roddy is scoring 22.4 per outing.
* A week after being out-rebounded 51-33 in a road win over Grand Canyon, Ike and Co. took care of business against the Titans, winning that battle, 37-25. "We know that you can't come and win on the road if you're going to give up 22 extra possessions like we did in Grand Canyon," Linder said. "I thought we did a really good job in the first half of creating extra possession by us crashing the offensive boards." UW outpaced Fullerton 10-3 in that category."
* Cal State Fullerton doesn't appear to have the best gameday atmosphere. An understatement, I know. Thin yellow ropes serve as the "tunnel" back to the locker room. There are a pair of pop-up tailgate tents where you can grab some grub. The brown-and-gold-clad fans behind the visiting bench appeared to outnumber Titans fans. On the main camera angle, anyway. A friend told me you should never lose to a team with volleyball lines on its court. Wyoming didn't. The palm trees and mountain design is cool though.
* Wyoming has done a great job taking care of the basketball through its first six games. Tonight, the Pokes turned it over just once in the first half. They gave up eight over a 40-minute span. You're going to win a lot of games when you do that.
* Before the Hastings matchup, UW was ranked second in the nation in defensive field-goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot just over 30%. The undermanned Broncos hit 44% of their shots inside the Arena-Auditorium Friday. The Titans sank 48.1%. Keep an eye on that.
* Linder really likes his postgame water. There was none to be found after last week's game in Phoenix. It is the desert, after all. Tonight, he was fully hydrated before his chat with the media. "My opening remarks are, first off, it's nice when we have the ability to charter (a plane) to where we can actually bring our own supply of water," he joked. "I can't think Aqua Vista enough and that aquifer in the Big Horns that provides us that nice, fresh Wyoming water."
* Maldonado wasn't the only one to hit the 100 mark tonight. Linder also won his 100th career-game as a head coach. This was his tweet after the game:
* We keep talking about "true road wins." There's a good reason why. Do you think Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, for instance, play non-conference games on the opposition's home floor? Rarely. Sure, the Blue Devils have played a tough early schedule, but they beat Kentucky and Gonzaga at Neutral sites. Let's get back to the Mountain West. CSU currently sits atop the standings with a 7-0 record, but the Rams have yet to play a true road game, winning all three of their games away from Moby Arena on a neutral site. They earned that with their play of late. UW still has one real road game remaining Dec. 8 at No. 11 Arizona.
"I mean, ultimately, in order to be a good team, you got to find ways to win on the road," Linder said. "I mean, I challenged our guys with our schedule early on here ... The hardest thing to do is to win on the road in college basketball, from a percentage standpoint."
* Wyoming scorers tonight: Maldonado 21, Ike 17, DuSell 16, Drake Jeffries 14, Jeremiah Oden 6, Brendan Wenzel 5. Wyoming's next game is Thursday night in Laramie against Denver (3-5) Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.