Linskens' Big First Half Propels Pokes to Win

The Cowboys got a huge half from their 7-footer—and a huge victory over TCU at home…

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Pokes' backcourt finished the job.

But Mikhail Linskens' first-half heroics helped put the Horned Frogs away early.

The 7-foot freshman scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting, pulled in three rebounds and had four blocks in the game's first 20 minutes as Wyoming built a double-digit halftime lead and went on to beat TCU 72-54 Wednesday night.

"That's the guy we recruited," Wyoming head coach Heath Schroyer said. "He's really starting to understand.

"I mean, here's a freshman that's going for 14 (points), six (rebounds) and four (blocks) in 23 (total) minutes and didn't miss a shot. So we're going to ride that big fella for a long time. I can tell you that."

The Cowboys rode him in the first half. His dunk with 16:14 on the clock gave the Pokes their first lead of the game at 6-5, and he scored five more points during an 11-2 run that put Wyoming up 23-15 with nine minutes to go. His second 3-pointer of the game three and a half minutes later sparked a 12-0 Wyoming run that pushed the advantage to 35-19, and he topped that off by scoring the Pokes' final four points in the half, giving the Cowboys a 39-26 lead at the break.

"He was hitting the three, blocking shots and rebounded the ball well," Schroyer said. "Until he got into foul trouble, he played as well as I've seen him this year."

Linskens was forced to leave the game in the second half with a strained right hip flexor, but Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones took care of things from there. The two guards combined for 22 second-half points, and Wyoming never led by less than 11 throughout the period.

Ewing hit a pair of late 3-pointers to stifle a short-lived TCU run and spark a 14-3 Cowboy surge that pushed Wyoming's lead to 68-46 with 3:40 remaining. The Pokes coasted from there.

The 18-point win marked Wyoming's largest margin of victory in Mountain West Conference play this season. It also gave the Cowboys a taste of redemption after dropping their first matchup against TCU by 27 points last month and losing by a season-worst 45 points to New Mexico last Saturday.

"Everybody's got to protect their home court," said Ewing, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. "(TCU) did the same thing down there. They got out to an early lead and just maintained the lead. We just wanted to come out here and get a win. We didn't expect to come out and win by like 20 or anything like that."

The Pokes improved to 10-13 overall and 3-7 in the MWC, just a game back of both TCU (12-10, 4-6) and Air Force (12-11, 4-6), who they'll face on Saturday.

"I think this win is obviously big. We needed to come back after New Mexico and play well, and I thought we did," Schroyer said. "We're just trying to get a little bit better every day to try to position ourselves the best we can coming up in the tournament."

With the win over TCU, the Cowboys have now won four of their last six games and three of their last four home games.

They are scheduled to tip off against the Falcons at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Clune Arena.

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