Pokes Hang on Against Colorado

The Cowboys got a scare from Colorado down the stretch, but their double-digit first-half lead was enough to carry them to victory…

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Call it half a blowout.

Or just credit Colorado's lack of intensity.

Either way, Wyoming's 20-point halftime lead was too much for the Buffaloes to whittle away.

Ryan Dermody and Brad Jones combined to score 37 points, and the Cowboys rode a bit of early domination to a nerve-racking 73-64 victory on Saturday.

"Cool doesn't win you basketball games and we came out too cool," said CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik. "Then we say, hey man, let's get going and it's too late."

It didn't stop the Buffaloes from making things interesting down the stretch, though.

Levi Knutson's 3-pointer capped a 12-3 Colorado run to open the second half, cutting the Cowboys' lead to 43-32 with 15:25 to go. Wyoming answered with seven straight points, but another CU run, this time a 14-4 surge, made the score 56-49 with 7:42 remaining.

"The first five minutes of the second half, we kind of came out on our heels," said UW head coach Heath Schroyer. "We started playing not to lose in a way and started playing a little lethargic, but give CU credit. I think they had a lot to do with it."

A Cory Higgins' 3-pointer with 2:09 on the clock cut Wyoming's lead to 61-55 and five straight Colorado points by Marcus Hall pulled the Buffaloes within 67-64 before Wyoming put the game out of reach with six straight free throws.

"I told the kids afterward that I felt the difficult situations we faced on the road earlier this year helped us today," Schroyer said. "With so many young players on our team, we needed those tests on the road to help us learn how to win a tough game like this one today."

The Pokes dropped three of their four early road contests (at Akron, at Wichita State and at Denver), but Schroyer said the experience will help his team later in the season.

The Cowboys remain perfect in Laramie this season, although the Buffaloes gave them their biggest home test of the year.

"We…kept our composure, and any good team at this level, which Colorado is, they're going to make a run," Schroyer said. "This was a big win for our guys. To win a game against a Big 12 opponent was big. I'm happy for our kids."

For Bzdelik, the Buffaloes' second-half run was disappointingly late.

"I have failed as a coach to get them to understand what desperate energy is, passion and having (it) be an honor and a privilege to play college basketball," he said. "I have to find a way to instill in each and every single one of them an enjoyment, desperation and a passion for the game.

Colorado was led by Hall, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half. Knutson added 11 points, and Richard Roby, the team's NBA prospect was held to just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Wyoming got 12 points and a game-high six assists from Brandon Ewing. Travis Nelson scored 12 more, and Joseph Taylor finished with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Taylor and Dermody combined to score the Cowboys' first 10 points as Wyoming jumped out to an early 10-3 lead. Back-to-back buckets from Xavier Silas highlighted a 12-6 Colorado run that pulled the Buffaloes within 16-15 with 11:15 to go in the half, but the Cowboys scored 24 of the next 29 points to take a dominating 40-20 lead into the locker room.

Wyoming was dominant inside, out-rebounding Colorado 43-33 and scoring six more points in the paint.

"We worked on rebounding all week," Schroyer said. "We put some pretty intense drills in to improve our intensity on the glass. I think my players probably thought I was a little crazy with all of the rebounding drills, but we had to improve that part of our game and we did today."

Wyoming will now have a week off before traveling to Casper, Wyo. Dec. 15 for the annual Wyoming Shootout where they will face Montana State.

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