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Poke Basketball Weekly Game Recap

Cowboys go 3-0 to continue hot streak, remain atop conference standings & enter AP Poll

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The “Doom Squad” Wyoming Cowboys continued their dominance during conference play last week, completing a perfect sweep of games against Fresno State, Utah State, and San Jose State. The Cowboys moved to 10-1 in conference play and 21-3 overall on the season. Their stellar play of late has landed them inside of college basketball’s AP Top 25 for the first time since the 2014-2015 season, coming in at #22.

The Pokes started off their week with a 61-59 road win against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Hunter Maldonado led the way for the Cowboys, dropping in 21 points on 8-16 shooting to go along with his 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Maldonado was one of three Cowboys to log double digits on the scoreboard; alongside him were Graham Ike (14 pts, 8 rebs) and Brendan Wenzel (12 pts, 7 rebs). It was a back and forth defensive bout that had Wyoming holding on for dear life at the very end. The Cowboys fended off a Fresno State team that averaged 66.2 points per game (ppg), holding them to 59 in the contest and under 40% from the field. The Pokes didn’t shoot as well as they normally do, not doing much better than the Bulldogs, shooting 40% from the field, however they outrebounded Fresno State 46-28, effectively controlling the boards and winning the game despite a 25-point performance from Bulldog Guard Isaiah Hill.

The Pokes then traveled back home to Laramie for their second contest of the season versus the Utah State Aggies. It was a slow start for the Cowboys but it didn’t stay that way for long. Led in large part by big man Graham Ike and floor general Hunter Maldonado, the Cowboys quickly got their groove back, and boy did they need it. The back and forth contest between these two teams saw twelve lead changes throughout regulation, and despite a valiant effort from the Aggies of Utah State, the instant classic between the rival schools was settled in OT with the Cowboys emerging victorious in dramatic fashion by a score of 78-76. Maldonado and Ike had monster games with both players contributing a combined 51 points out of the 78 for the Cowboys. Drake Jefferies also dropped in 12 points of his own while notching 13 rebounds in the contest.

The last game of the week was a lot less dramatic than the first two. Traveling back out west for a matchup with the San Jose State Spartans, bottom-dwellers of the Mountain West this season, the Cowboys came in as a monster favorite in a potential trap game for the Pokes. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. The Cowboys were able to beat San Jose State handily in a 74-52 road victory. Ike and Maldonado were once again the big contributors, recording lines of 25/18/2 (Ike) and 23/3/5 (Maldonado), respectively. The Cowboys played well in most all facets, shooting just under 50% as a team and grabbing 45 team rebounds, while turning the ball over 12 times.

The Cowboys will look to continue their dominance of the Mountain West this season with upcoming games against the New Mexico Lobos and the Air Force Falcons this week. The newly ranked Cowboys are slowly climbing their way out of the NCAA tournament bubble, and under Head Coach Jeff Linder’s guidance have become top contenders for the Mountain West and potential bracket-busters come March.

Upcoming this week:

@ New Mexico, Tuesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m. MT (WYO -5.5)

Vs. Air Force, Saturday, February 19, 2:00 p.m. MT (TBA)