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LARAMIE (AP) — Balanced scoring, solid rebounding and clutch free throw shooting enabled Wyoming to stave off pesky Jackson State 73-65 on Monday.
Riley Grabau scored 16 points and Larry Nance Jr. had 15 to lead Wyoming (3-1), while Nathan Sobey and Josh Adams added 11 points each and Derek Cooke Jr. had a game-high 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Julysses Nobles led Jackson State (1-4) with 23 points while Treshawn Bolden added 14.
Wyoming took its largest lead at 52-36 following a technical foul on Jackson State coach Wayne Brent, but the Tigers made it close down the stretch, helped by a spate of Cowboys turnovers. Nobles’ 3-point play drew Jackson State within 59-54 at the 7:13 mark.
Charles Hankerson Jr. answered with a layup before Nobles sunk a pair of foul shots to keep the margin at five. Wyoming caught some breathing room after Grabau and Nance each hit two free throws and Hankerson was credited with a basket on a goaltending call on Bolden, leaving Wyoming up 67-56 with 4:23 to play.
The Tigers didn’t draw closer than eight after that as the Cowboys converted 10 of 10 free throws in the final minutes.
“We are an attack team,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said, “. and we need to continue to do that not only because of the rules, but I think it plays into us being a better offensive team.”
“Coach wanted us to get to the foul line and get easy free throws,” he said. “We’ve got an attack mentality. Jackson State’s a great team so we just tried to get to the line.”
Cooke was in double figures in rebounds for a second straight game as Wyoming won the battle of the boards 34-26.
“Coming into the season, Coach assigned everybody roles, and for me he assigned me to get every rebound,” Cooke said.
Jackson State’s Brent said he offered nothing but positive encouragement afterward to his young team, which has 10 freshmen and is in the middle of a five-game road trip. He said defensive intensity kept the Tigers in the game.
“We told them that Wyoming is a well-coached team. They don’t take bad shots. They make the extra pass,” he said. “We told our kids they had to be willing to guard anywhere from 30 to 35 seconds each possession. And I thought our kids did that for a 40-minute game and that’s what kept us hanging around.”
Wyoming shot 53 percent, following a 56 percent effort in its previous game. Jackson State shot 42 percent but committed only eight turnovers while forcing 16.
Jackson State never led but was within 14-13 early before Wyoming used a 14-0 surge to go ahead 28-13 and then settled for a 35-24 halftime lead.