With nearly two weeks off, San Jose State (7-7, 0-1 MW) was high energy for nearly an entire game before Cowboy guard Akuel Kot’s mid-range jumper hit the bottom of the net for the 75-73 win with no time remaining.
By the time Wyoming (8-6, 1-0 MW) surrounded Kot at mid-court for the celebration, the Spartans were still bent over from that gut punch.
San Jose led for well-over 30 minutes to Wyoming’s 40 seconds of holding the lead.
The Spartans pushed out to a 17-point lead winning the first-half 47-35; led by nine 3-pointers and holding Wyoming’s top scorer Sam Griffin to six points in the first-half. By the second-half, Griffin was the best player on the floor leading all scorers with 23 points.
It was a solid first 20 minutes for the Spartans, who looked fresh and primed to notch their first ever win at the Dome of Doom.
SJS guard Alvaro Cardenas’ 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and one steal kept Wyoming at bay before the Cowboys bore down in the second half. Myron Amey Jr. and Trey Anderson also started fast contributing to the big first-half lead.
But it was the aggressiveness of Tibet Gorener and Cardenas as the only true Spartan threats in the second-half keeping San Jose State in it.
With Wyoming outscoring San Jose State 40-26 in the typical tale of two-halves, the Spartans waned just enough to give Wyoming the daylight it needed to eke out the win.
Gorener finished with 16 points and Anderson had 10. The second-half also saw only three more Spartan 3s. Among the leading three-point shooting teams in the conference, San Jose lived and died by it Tuesday evening.
Wyoming didn’t hit a three until 17 minutes into the game; making four 3s the entire game. The Cowboy’s inside game also did enough of the damage; winning the paint 36-20 over the Spartans.
The Spartan trend of not being able to hold onto leads held true again with the start of 2024 in opening Mountain West conference play, but head coach Tim Miles and team still have time to get right.
As in the last two seasons, Miles has shown the propensity to guide and squeeze performance out from his young team. In a program that currently lacks the resources and allure of the upper echelon of the conference, there’s no doubt Miles is doing his part, as advertised.
This Friday night, it’s the second conference try to get it right with 17 MW games left of the docket. San Jose hosts Boise State where it clearly doesn’t get easier.