Tuck’s Take: Wyoming Misses 21 Threes in Forgettable Loss at UNLV
LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- That team gave up 90 points to Air Force? Inside the Thomas and Mack Center, to boot?
Wyoming didn't even reach the 50-point mark Saturday night in Sin City. In fact, for roughly 10-scoreless minutes of action, it appears the visitors would be hard pressed to net 30.
Shooting under 35% from the field will lead to nights like this.
Oh, and it gets worse. Much worse.
Akuel Kot missed all eight of his attempts from distance. Brendan Wenzel, who was playing with "three displaced ribs," missed six more. Sam Griffin added five. The Cowboys, who suffered their 20th consecutive loss inside this building, dating back to 2003, connected on just 4-of-25 triples in a lopsided 62-48 setback against UNLV.
Plenty of those looks were wide open, too.
"Those two guys go 1-for-14, it's going to be hard for us to win," Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder said postgame, referring to Kot and Griffin.
Most nights we would consider a dozen turnovers a decent outing. Not in this one. The Rebels earned their Runnin' nickname, turning those giveaways into 21 points. UNLV was credited with 10 steals. Wyoming, zero.
"They're as big as anybody in our league and as athletic," Linder continued. "For us, coming in, we knew we had to take care of the ball. Obviously, 21 points off turnovers -- probably five or six of those were steals that led to basically two points on the other end -- we knew we couldn't afford that."
It would be easy to host a film-burning party and leave this one in the past. Wyoming simply missed shots. Linder said that won't be the case. For one, the Rebels still have a return trip to Laramie at the end of the month. Secondly, the fourth-year bench boss said there were some positives in this one, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
The game plan, he said, was to clamp down on UNLV big men Kalib Boone and Rob Whaley Jr. The Cowboys did just that, limiting those two to just 3-for-12 shooting. In fact, Boone, who was in foul trouble most of the night, never got on the scoresheet. That duo also hauled in just nine combined rebounds.
The Rebels also finished with just nine fast-break points, most of that damage coming via the turnover.
Wyoming also won the rebounding battle, 42-31, including a 13-8 edge on the offensive glass.
"I thought, defensively, we did some things that would help us win the game and maybe take away the transition baskets in terms of what we did in the half-court," Linder said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win and our half-court defense was pretty good."
UNLV's defense, though, was better.
Mason Walters was a non-factor on offense throughout, netting just six points. The senior forward did pull down a game-high 13 rebounds, but was blanketed with a double-team on nearly every paint touch. Fellow forward Cam Manyawu led the Cowboys with 13 points and pulled down nine boards of his own. Eleven of those points, however, came when the game was clearly out of hand.
With 1:04 remaining in the first half, Griffin sank his second straight free throw. Wyoming didn't score another point until the senior laid one off the glass with 12:44 left in regulation.
Just before that extended drought, the Cowboys committed back-to-back shot-clock violations.
"Give them credit because their defensive pressure on our guards with their length, their size and physicality causes some problems," Linder added.
This is not an ideal matchup. Rarely has it ever been, obviously. Wyoming is now 4-31 all-time inside this arena.
That's no accident.
UNLV started three forwards in this one, each player standing at least 6-foot-8. Luis Rodriguez, a guard, is listed at 6-foot-6. The Rebels finished with six blocks Saturday night and added a 32-24 advantage in the paint.
The size and skill on UNLV's roster is as good or better, Linder said, than anyone in the conference.
He's not wrong.
Kylan Boone and Dedan Thomas both netted 14 against the Cowboys. Rodriguez added a dozen. Brooklyn Hicks and Jackie Johnson III finished with seven points each off the bench.
Wyoming (12-10, 5-4) has little time to regroup after this loss with high-powered New Mexico (18-4, 6-3) coming to town Tuesday night. Was this disappointing, absolutely. Season-altering? It sure doesn't need to be.
Linder said his team's recent run of success hasn't gone unnoticed. UNLV (12-9, 5-4), unlike it was during that 32-point blowout loss to the Falcons, was dialed in.
The Cowboys aren't sneaking up on anyone anymore.
"There's a certain level of intensity and intent that you need in order to beat good teams on the road," he said. "Obviously, in this league right now, it's hard to win road games. So, if you can steal one, you can steal one. You just have to turn around and flush it and get ready for a very talented New Mexico team."
The Cowboys and Lobos are scheduled to tipoff at 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players