Ewing's Big Night Leads Pokes to Victory

Wyoming's leading scorer passed out eight assists on Monday night and still managed to finish four points above his season average. Oh, and he only took nine shots. The Pokes remain perfect at home in 2007, cruising to an easy win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Maybe it was the extra practice time or the film session with his head coach. Or maybe Brandon Ewing is simply grasping the team's new system.

Either way, the shifty point guard played his most complete game of the season on Monday night, scoring 21 points on seven-of-nine shooting and dishing out eight assists to lead Wyoming to a 78-59 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

"Brandon has really become a student of the game," said UW head coach Heath Schroyer. "He's becoming a complete player…, and we're going to lean on him all year."

Ewing scored just four points in the first half but went into the break with five assists. He opened the second half with a conventional three-point play and then hit two three-pointers and handed out two assists during a five-minute stretch that saw the Cowboys open up their biggest lead of the game at 54-32 with 15:26 to go.

"I kind of like just getting my teammates involved in the first half and getting everybody else going," said Ewing, who set aside time for extra shooting practice and a private film session with Schroyer after last week's loss at Wichita State.

"We talked about him being more efficient," Schroyer said. "My challenge to him is to always become as efficient as possible."

That didn't seem to be a problem for the team's leading scorer Monday night.

"I know I got the ball in my hands 100 percent of the time, so I know I can shoot the ball whenever I want to," Ewing said. "But I like getting guys like (Eric) Platt going early, or Ryan (Dermody) or Brad (Jones) or even Travis (Nelson). And I know as the game goes along, I can get mine anytime I want to."

He did get his—to the tune of 17 second-half points—but it was the assists and his decision making that put a smile on Schroyer's face.

"He took all good shots," the first-year head coach said. "He got other people involved. He passed up two shots (and instead) got Eric Platt a couple of shots….I'm really proud of him for that.

"When Brandon can score 21 points on nine shots, I think that helps not only Brandon but also the team."

In return, he got plenty of help from his teammates, who along with Ewing combined to shoot 50 percent from the field, including 13-of-26 from beyond the arc.

"In the first half, Derm(ody) kind of carried us, and then Platt came in and knocked down two early threes, so I kind of figured it was going to be a good night," Ewing said. "I didn't think I was going to shoot it as well like that, seven-for-nine and four-of-six from three, but the guys kept telling me to shoot and every time I shot it, it kept going in, so I guess it was just one of those nights."

Dermody finished with a career-high 15 points, including four three-pointers, and 10 rebounds, and Wyoming (3-2 overall) got four more three-pointers from Platt, who has struggled with his shot at times during the Pokes' first three regular season games.

"It was nice to see Derm and Eric knock down some perimeter shots," said Schroyer, who credited Ewing's penetration with creating open looks for the duo.

"I don't think my teammates have ever doubted me, especially Brandon getting me the ball when I'm wide open," Platt said. "I think…everybody just feeds off each other. When (Dermody) hits that shot, it gets me going. When Brandon takes it to the hoop and gets that and-one in the second half, I'm sitting there on the bench just getting happy. I think everybody just feeds off each other."

Dermody and Platt combined for five Wyoming three-pointers in the first half as the Cowboys built a 37-23 lead at intermission. The Golden Lions (1-4 overall) put together a 14-4 run that pulled them within 67-57 with just more than five minutes remaining in the game, but the Cowboys scored 11 of the next 13 points to seal the win.

"We got a little complacent when we went up by about 20," Schroyer said, "and we talked about that after the game. I told our players if we don't execute on every play, we're not going to win games. What I did like was when they (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) made their run, we turned up the defense and got to the free-throw line on the offensive end."

The Cowboys held Arkansas-Pine Bluff to just 30.1 percent shooting and 15 percent from three-point range.

"Wyoming shot the ball extremely well and they were more aggressive than we were," said UAPB coach Van Holt. "They were more athletic and just a better team."

A better team, led by Ewing.

"Brandon Ewing is the captain of the ship," Holt said. "He is the glue."

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