Despite two players getting double-doubles, including one player with 22 points and 20 rebounds, third-year University of Wyoming men’s basketball coach Allen Edwards liked the fight his team showed in last Saturday’s 88-81 home victory over New Mexico.
However, Edwards said his team needs more when the Cowboys play the Lobos in a first-round game at the Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championships at 2:30 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“We have to take that fight to a whole other level,” Edwards said. “Getting the ball inside, their physicality and how they rebounded the ball hurt us.”
Junior forward Carlton Bragg had 22 points and 20 rebounds, and sophomore wing Vance Jackson added 13 points and 11 rebounds for New Mexico last Saturday. The Lobos outrebounded the Cowboys 42-30, 16-3 on the offensive glass, had 18 second-chance points and scored 34 points in the paint.
UW countered that with five players scoring in double figures, shooting 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. It also did a good job of ball security with 10 turnovers.
Last Saturday’s game was a stark contrast from the first game between the two teams on Jan. 19 that New Mexico won 83-53, and how both teams adjust and tweak their approaches will be interesting to see.
“When it is this close of a turnaround, you kind of take the approach of getting inside the other coach’s mind,” Edwards said.
Aside from the X's and O's of today’s game, UW will battle some unkind history at the Thomas & Mack. It is 9-16 there in the MW Tournament, and the team has to win four games in four days to win the tournament.
And even though UW isn’t playing UNLV, for which the Thomas & Mack is home court, it has won just three times in 31 games there against the Rebels, and have lost 17 straight.
And at 8-23 overall and just four conference victories in the regular season, not many have high expectations for UW this week.
However, none of that seems to matter to the Cowboys.
“If we were playing UNLV (things) might be a little different, but anybody else it's just like another game. It is a pretty even playing field,” said senior guard Justin James, who earned first team All-MW honors by the media, second team by the coaches and also was an All-District VIII honoree by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
“I don’t care about where anybody ranks us or thinks what we are going to do (in the tournament). We’re focused on preparing for the game and what we have to do to win the game.”
Added Edwards: "This is tournament time. That’s why they call it March Madness. You never know what can happen.”
UW is 23-20 all-time in conference tournaments, 2-10 in first-round games and 3-4 against New Mexico. … James will play in his 131st game today, which is tied for second-most in school history with center Eric Leckner (1985-88). James also is 19 points shy from tying guard Flynn Robinson for third on UW’s career scoring list. James enters the game with 2,030 points. … The Cowboys have made 240 3-pointers this season, the fourth-most in a season in school history.
James named 2nd team All-MW by coaches
LAS VEGAS – University of Wyoming senior guard Justin James was voted second team All-Mountain West by the conference’s 11 coaches Tuesday.
On Monday, James was voted as a first team All-MW pick by the league’s media.
James was the MW scoring champion during the regular season at 21.8 points per game. He also averaged 21.3 points per contest in conference play.
James was the only UW player to receive postseason recognition by the MW coaches.
James also was named to the All-District VIII team by the United States Basketball Writers Association.