(Photo Courtesy: Liz Holder)
LARAMIE, Wyo. (A-State) - Wyoming's hot shooting was more than the Arkansas State University men's basketball team could handle as the Red Wolves were handed a decisive 85-64 loss by the Cowboys this Saturday afternoon at UW's Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo.
The Red Wolves came in looking to make a statement in their young season and topple a competitive Wyoming squad, but the Cowboys were the ones who raised the eyebrows particulary with a 24-point halftime lead. The hosts came out of the gates in the non-conference tilt quickly and never looked back in tagging A-State (2-1) with its first 2013-14 setback. The Cowboys (2-1), who shot 56.3 percent (27-48) for the game, connected on an impressive 64 percent (16-25) in the opening half and forced the Red Wolves into a big second-half hole, which was insurmountable.
"We can't stop anybody right now and we obviously didn't do it today," A-State head coach John Brady said. "There's two things we don't do well at this time - we don't defend and we don't rebound. We have to do those two things better and until we do that, it's going to be difficult for us to be successful.
"The damage was done early in the first half and it seemed like we were stuck inmud. Although Wyoming is a skilled, well-coach team, there were things we didn't do on our side and we need to play better. We will see if we can get better," added Brady.
Senior guard Melvin Johnson III had 10 points in the opening frame to keep A-State's hopes alive and would go on to add 11 more in the second half en route to a game-high 22-points performance. Despite his offensive showing, the Red Wolves faced an uphill battle which would only grow higher as the first half progressed.
Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke was the only other Red Wolves' player to reach double-figure scoring in the game with 13 points as A-State shot 35.7 percent (20-56) for the day. Senior guard Brandon Reed had eight points and sophomore guard Cameron Golden tallied seven points off the bench. Van Slyke paced the Red Wolves with three blocked shots while Johnson III's six rebounds marked a squad high.
Wyoming placed three of its five starters in the double-digit scoring column, led by Josh Adams' 20 points. Larry Nance Jr. added 18 points and six boards while guard Riley Grabau tossed in 16. The Cowboys, who rebounded A-State 35-28 in the game, received a 10-rebound effort from forward Derek Cooke Jr.
The Red Wolves scored 11 straight points early in the second period with Johnson III's driving layup cutting the Cowboys' lead to 58-43 with just under 17 minutes left to be played, but would get no closer. Wyoming eventually built their lead to up to 28 points at 83-55 with seven minutes to go and cruised the rest of the way for the win in what was the first matchup between the two schools.
The Red Wolves trailed 56-32 at the half as Wyoming blistered the nets by converting 16-of-25 shots from the floor for 64 percent and made 5-of-11 triples (45.5 percent). A-State struggled in the first 20 minutes as the Red Wolves were limited to 31.3 percent (10-32) shooting. A-State was 6-of-9 at the free throw line (66.7 percent) and made 37.5 percent in three's with a 6-of-16 performance. The Red Wolves kept Wyoming's margin to single numbers almost eight minutes into the contest before the hosts would push the lead into double digits and would by at least 20 the final five minutes.