Wyoming’s Akuel Kot Sinks Spartans at the Buzzer
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys erased a 17-point deficit and used a buzzer beater from Akuel Kot to defeat San Jose State by a score of 75-73 in the Arena-Auditorium in the Mountain West opener on Tuesday evening. It was the largest comeback since trailing by 17 against UNLV on Jan. 9, 2016.
It was also the first true buzzer beater in the Arena-Auditorium since David Adams did so against Dayton on Jan. 4, 2004. It was the second Buzzer beater by Wyoming under head coach Jeff Linder, as Hunter Maldonado won the game at Air Force on Jan. 28, 2022.
“Welcome to conference play and no games are easy,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We had our hands full with San Jose State. We talked to the guys after BYU and we needed to have a level of desperation in our play. We held them to 33 percent in the second half after shooting over 50 percent in the first half. I thought in the first half we could get what we wanted, but we tried to do too much and could not finish. We settled in the second half and our defense energy flowed over to the offensive side.
"Overall, a really good last play. Akuel is a great one-one-one player and, looking at what the matchup was, gave us a good chance. We will enjoy this one and look to heading to New Mexico.”
Wyoming as led in scoring by Sam Griffin with 23 points for his seventh game of 20 or more points this season. He was 7-of-9 from the field in the second half. Forward Oleg Kojenets added a career-high 18 points in the game for his second time in double-figures this season. Kot added 14 points on the night and has scored in double-figures in every game this season.
The Cowboys shot 42 percent from the field on the night but shot 53 percent in the second frame. SJSU shot 44 percent but were held to 33 percent in the second half after shooting over 50 percent in the opening frame. The Spartans hit 12 threes on the night, but Wyoming was an impressive 23-of-25 from the free throw line.
The Spartans got off to an 8-0 lead in the opening two minutes of the contest. The Pokes responded with a 6-0 run over the next three minutes for an 8-6 contest for the Spartans. SJSU added a corner triple for a 11-6 game with 14:58 left in the half.
SJSU pushed the lead to as much as five points, but Griffin helped the Pokes tie the game at 16-16, but the Spartans hit their fifth three of the game to take back the lead. Another three for SJSU extended their lead to 22-18 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Wyoming would go scoreless for three minutes and the Spartans went on an 11-0 run to take a 31-18 lead with under eight minutes left in the half. Wyoming went eight minutes without a field goal, as the Spartans took a 43-26 lead.
The Spartans would take a 47-35 lead into the half finishing the first frame with nine three pointers. Wyoming was 18-of-19 from the line in the first half but shot 30 percent from the field.
The Cowboys cut the SJSU lead to seven points at 49-42 in the opening two minutes in the second half. Wyoming held SJSU scoreless for over two minutes and made it a 54-50 game with just over 14 minutes remaining. But the Spartans added another triple to make it a 58-50 contest.
Wyoming went on a 6-0 run to make it a two-point game, but the Spartans hit their 12th three of the game and would eventually push the lead to seven points at 63-56 with 10 minutes left. Wyoming would hold the Spartans without a field goal for over four minutes and tied the game with a Griffin three pointer for a 66-66 contest with just over six minutes left.
Kojenets gave Wyoming a lead at 70-68 at the 4:24 mark of the second half. SJSU took the lead at 71-70, but Sam Girffin hit a triple for a 73-71 game with 2:45 left, but the contest was tied right after the bucket. The game would be tied until the last second shot by Kot gave Wyoming the win.
San Jose State was led by Alvaro Cardenas with 21 points in the contest. He was 4-of-5 from behind the arc. Tibet Gorener added 16 points on the night.
The Cowboys Meet New Mexico on the road on Saturday in an 8 p.m. start on CBS Sports Network.