Pokes Roll Past Cal State Bakersfield, 78-53

The Cowboys got a break from conference play Wednesday night—and made the most of it…

It won't move them up the Mountain West Conference standings.

But the Cowboys weren't complaining about their competition.

Mikhail Linskens scored 23 points and Brandon Ewing added 19 as Wyoming cruised past nonconference foe Cal State Bakersfield 78-53 Wednesday night.

"That was really important to get us ready for the second half of conference (play)," said Ewing, who added three assists, four rebounds and a steal. "We just wanted to come out and get a big win because we know we got (to get) a big win on Saturday.

"We didn't want to keep it close."

And they didn't.

Ewing hit a pair of 3-pointers and Linskens added six points as the Pokes (9-12, 2-6 MWC) built a 22-6 lead over the first nine minutes of the game. Wyoming took a 42-27 advantage into the break and never led by less than 13 points throughout the second half.

"It was big…for my confidence," said Linskens, whose previous career high was eight points against San Diego State last month. "I'm very glad we won.

"I hope we can do that same thing in conference."

The freshman put up 12 points in the second half and finished the night 10-of-15 from the field, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. His 3-pointer with 17:22 to play capped a 9-3 run that pushed Wyoming's lead to 51-32. He scored four straight points seven minutes later to give UW its biggest lead of the game to that point, 60-39, and the 7-footer kept things going down the stretch, scoring four of the Pokes' final seven points.

"For maybe the first time this season, we put 40 minutes together," UW head coach Heath Schroyer said. "We defended the entire night the way we wanted to."

The Cowboys held the Roadrunners to just two assists on 17 made baskets and 27.4-percent shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the Pokes converted more than half of their shots (31-60) and dished out 20 assists as a team. Arguably the most dominant aspect of Wyoming's performance came in the post, where the Cowboys outscored CSUB 38-18.

"Our big men have gotten better," Schroyer said, "and that has given our other players the confidence to throw the ball in there. We want to play inside-out to open up the perimeter, and with the improvement of our big men, we are getting the opportunity to do that more and more."

For the third straight game, Tyson Johnson scored 12 points—helping to solidify his role as one of the Pokes' premier post presences—and forward Joseph Taylor added a dozen rebounds for Wyoming.

"That's real big," Ewing said of Johnson's performance. "In junior college he averaged more than 20 points a game, so Tyson always was able to score for us. It was just a matter of time for him to get his opportunity. Tyson, at the beginning of the season, kept his head up. He stayed positive and gave us a great look in practice. And now when Coach gave him an opportunity and called his name, he did a great job doing it, and now he's one of our go-to players. As soon as he gets in the game, we call a set for him because we know he's an automatic bucket."

The Pokes' 25-point margin of victory was their highest of the season, and they improved their nonconference home record to 5-1.

Their next game will be at New Mexico, a team they lost to in double overtime in Laramie a month ago. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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