It was starting to look like Wyoming (9-0) was finally running out of steam. After flying to the Midwest and facing a hot shooting Illinois State (5-3) squad the Pokes looked to be destined for their first loss. With 17 minutes left in the game Wyoming was facing a 50-31 deficit. This was not looking good at all folks.
That is when things changed dramatically and Wyoming found their defensive roots and put together one of the most impressive halves of hoops Wyoming has ever played. Using runs of 14-0 and 11-0 plus a number of Illinois State turnovers Wyoming outscored their opponent 50-17 over the final 17 minutes to win by a comfortable 81-67 margin. After the big upset of Colorado last week got some media attention, not everyone was believing that Wyoming was for real.
The Pokes were eight point underdogs to unranked Illinois State. A team that lost to #5 Louisville by just three points last week. With this victory Wyoming is really started to turn some heads around the country and should receive even more top 25 votes.
How did Wyoming pull off their huge second half? Two things: balanced offense and tenacious defense. Let's start with Luke Martinez who set put himself atop the record books with a school best nine steals. He only had nine steals coming into the game and then doubled that.
Coach Shyatt rode his starters hard last night and it paid off. Riley Grabau was out due to his knee injury and so Josh Adams took his spot in the lineup. The bench only played 13 minutes for Wyoming. All five starters scored in double figures for Wyoming and they all played at least 36 minutes.
- Larry Nance Jr. - 19 points, 6 rebounds, 8 of 12 from the field, 3-3 FT
- Luke Martinez - 17 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists. 3-7 3PT and 4-4 FT
- Leonard Washington - 15 points, 7 rebounds
- Josh Adams - 15 points, 4 assists
- Derrious Gilmore - 13 points, 5 assists, 5-5 FT
Wyoming shot 64% in the second half and 54% overall. They were incredible from the charity stripe shooting 22 of 24. Nance and Adams both had career highs in points. You can certainly tell that the freshmen Adams has become more comfortable with college game over the last couple weeks.
Wyoming sits at 9-0 and has just four remaining games left in the non-conference schedule. They host lower division Oklahoma Panhandle State this Saturday. Next week they host Denver and also UC-Santa Barbara. Denver is off to a bad start but they can still give Wyoming trouble. The real big test is on January 2nd when Wyoming will travel to SMU and face the Mustangs who are coached by Larry Brown. That will be another huge road test for Wyoming and another nice boost for the resume if they can get the victory.