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Free throws put Cowboys over the top

Nov 19, 2013 - From staff reports

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.

Cowboys lose big

An early touchdown strike from quarterback Brett Smith to wide receiver Robert Herron wasn't enough for the University of Wyoming football team Saturday, as the Pokes dropped a road contest to the Boise State Broncos, 48-7.

Despite leading 7-0 early in the first quarter, the Pokes (4-6 overall, 2-4 Mountain West) gave up 48-unanswered points to Boise State (7-3, 5-1 MW) to lose for the fourth-straight week.

UW sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough began the game with a strip sack of Boise State, which senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens recovered on the BSU 47.

Six plays later, Smith found Herron for a score from 19 yards out and UW led 7-0.

But the Broncos scored on their next four possessions to lead 28-7 at the half, and tacked on 20 more points in the second half.

Smith finished with 201 combined yards passing and rushing, just seven yards shy of becoming UW's career total offense leader. Herron was the leading receiver with a season-high 10 catches, 86 yards and one score.

In a chilly contest with a game-time temperature of 38 degrees, the Cowboys managed a season-low 55 rush yards and 265 total yards, compared to 524 for Boise State.

The Cowboy defense played well early, forcing a turnover and a punt on Boise State's first two possessions.

Senior safety Marqueston Huff had 13 tackles to lead the Cowboys, while Yarbrough finished with 11 tackles and one sack.

The Cowboys will host Hawaii in the last home game of the season Saturday.

Kickoff is set for noon from War Memorial Stadium.

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