Cowboys Shoot Lights Out in 104-56 Season Opening Win
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys shot an impressive 62% from and field and 57% from behind the arc in a 104-56 win over Northern New Mexico in the season opener on Tuesday evening in the Arena-Auditorium.
The Pokes got it done on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Eagles to 33% from the field. Eight players made their debuts in the Brown and Gold with 11 players seeing action and all 11 scoring.
"I thought our response in the second half was really good," UW head coach Jeff Linder said. "In the first half, it was the first game of the year and it is a different feel and our guys got sped up a little bit. I thought once we settled in a slowed down our guys were great. It has been a long time since we have had 22 assists and with our team that is where the game becomes cleaner. Northern New Mexico played a little messy, but our team this year needs to play a little bit more in flow and get out and not be so structured. We have very good players that can play in space, and I thought it was a good collective effort by our guys tonight."
Guard Sam Griffin added 23 points in his Cowboy debut. He went over 1,500 points in his collegiate career, as well. Fellow transfer Akuel Kot poured in 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
He scored 20 or more points 20 times last season at Fort Lewis College.
Forward Cam Manyawu recorded a double-double in his first career game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first doube-double in a season opener since Justin James did so against UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 6, 2018.
It was the first double-double by a player in their first game at Wyoming since LeDarion Jones did so against Denver in 1998.
Manyawu was also second on the team with five assists in the contest.
Forward Oleg Kojenets added 11 points and six rebounds, career-highs for the Nebraska transfer. Junior college transfer Kobe Newton netted 10 points and was 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Brendan Wenzel added nine points and three rebounds.
The Pokes finished the night with 13 3-pointers but also scored 42 points in the paint. The Cowboys added 28 points off turnovers, forcing 20 in the contest.
"I thought we did a good job as the game went on with our defensive intensity and it didn't waiver," Linder said. "In a game like this where you get up big our guys did a good job. It was good for our freshmen to get in and see the ball go in. I looked up and said, Cam is like five assists away from a triple double."
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After a back-and-forth opening two plus minutes, the Eagles took and early 7-6 lead, but Griffin added an and-one play for a 9-7 lead for the Pokes with 16:52 left in the first frame. He would add a three-pointer seconds later for a 12-7 advantage for the Brown and Gold.
Kot would give the Pokes a 17-10 advantage at the 13:40 mark of the first half for his first points in the Brown and Gold. Wyoming would force turnovers and take a 21-12 lead with under 12 minutes left in the stanza.
Northern New Mexico would make it a five-point game at 21-16 halfway through the half. Newton added a triple, the first of his career and Kot added a pair of free throws for a 28-19 game and another bucket from the Fort Lewis transfer made it a 30-19 game.
Griffin hit back-to-back buckets and gave Wyoming a 34-21 lead with under seven minutes left in the opening frame. Wenzel pushed the lead to 15 at 41-26 at the four-minute mark for his second triple of the game off a nice dish from freshman Jacob Theodosiou. Fellow freshman Nigle Cook got into the scoring with a triple for a 44-26 lead for the Pokes.
The Cowboys took a 48-34 lead into the break shooting 67% from the field going 18-of-27. UW held the eagles to 36% from the field.
Wyoming opened the second half on a 14-2 run to build the advantage to take a 62-36 lead in the opening three minutes of the half. Wyoming knocked down a trio of triples during the stretch coming from Kot, Wenzel and Griffin.
Newton added another triple and was fouled on the play for a rare four-point play for a 70-43 lead. It was the ninth triple of the game for the Pokes. He added another triple and pushed it to a 30-point game at 75-45 halfway through the half.
Manyawu recorded back-to-back slam and Girffin hit a triple and Wyoming went on a 13-o run to make it a 92-52 game with five minutes left. Wyoming would end the run going 20-2 over five minutes.
Emannuel Taban led the Eagles with 15 points on the night.
The Cowboys return to action on Saturday, hosting Cal Poly in the Arena-Auditorium in a 7 p.m. start.
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