Free Throws Push Cowboys Past Jackson State

Nov. 18, 2013


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Four Cowboys scored in double figures and the University of Wyoming men's basketball team connected on its last 11 free-throw attempts to earn a hard-fought 73-65 win over Jackson State on Monday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (3-1) led wire-to-wire, but connected on clutch free throws in the final six minutes to claim their 100th non-conference victory in the building during the Mountain West era.

"Free throws are going to be big, as everyone is noticing in the country," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "I am proud of our guys for making their last 11 straight. Had we faltered there -- anything could have happened. I was really proud of our guys for how they continued to attack the paint. We continued to drive to the basket and knocked in those free throws when we needed to."

Wyoming led 35-24 at halftime and stretched the advantage to as high as 16 points midway through the second half, before the Tigers fought back to 61-56 with just over six minutes left. That would be as close as JSU could come, though, as UW fought to the rim and earned trips to the free throw line. The Cowboys made their final 11 free-throw attempts to finish the game 31-of-44 (70 percent) at the charity stripe.

"I thought our management of the clock would be better in our zone defense," Shyatt said. "We were fouling too much in the man-to-man, and we had nobody to stop [Julysses] Nobles. When I was at Florida, Nobles started for Arkansas in back-to-back years as a freshman and a sophomore. He's a load. He's going to have a great season for them, and we had to go zone to keep him out of the lane."

Junior guard Riley Grabau reached double figures for the third time this season with a team-high 16 points, while junior forward Larry Nance Jr. added 15 points and two blocks. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. had a great night on the defensive end, as he hauled in 10 rebounds for the second-straight game and added a career-high three blocks. Senior guard Nathan Sobey and sophomore guard Josh Adams added 11 points each to help four Pokes score in double figures for the second time this season.

Wyoming shot over 50 percent from the field for the second-consecutive game with 52 percent (19-of-36), while adding 33 percent (4-of-12) from deep. UW's 31 made free throws were its most since making 41 against Denver on Nov. 25, 2009. The Cowboys outrebounded the Tigers 34-26 and posted 10 assists to reach double figures for the third time this season.

The Tigers hung with the Cowboys through the first five minutes, as Wyoming held a slim 14-13 lead at the 13-minute mark. Grabau sparked a 14-0 UW run, though, with a trey and the Pokes jetted out to a 28-13 advantage over the next four minutes. Cooke and Nance added dunks during the spurt. Jackson State put on the press to work back into the game, 30-24, but redshirt senior guard Jerron Granberry ended the half with a three and a jumper at the buzzer to send Wyoming into halftime up 35-24.

Grabau lead seven Cowboy scorers in the first half with eight points, including two treys, while Nance and Cooke both added seven points. Cooke also had seven points and two blocks. Wyoming shot 52 percent (11-of-21) from the field in the first half and 50 percent (4-of-8) from deep, while limiting Jackson State to 36 percent (9-of-25) and 33 percent (2-of-6), respectively. Both teams earned 14 rebounds, but UW earned a 7-3 advantage in assists.

The Cowboys continue their season by hosting South Dakota on Friday at 8 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.