Wyoming takes its defensive mindset to Washington

NCAA

Second-year Wyoming coach Jeff Linder preaches defense first.

It helped the Cowboys go 14-11 last season after two straight campaigns with single-digit victories, and has guided them so far this season.

The Cowboys (2-0) are giving up an average of just 46 points per game heading into their first road contest of the season, Thursday night against Washington at Seattle.

It’s the first time since 1981-82 the Cowboys have limited their first two opponents to fewer than 50 points. They opened with an 85-47 victory against Detroit Mercy, then defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 85-45 on Sunday.

“Defense is where winning lies,” Linder said. “You can’t just be a really good offensive team and be a mediocre or bad defensive team if you expect to win. We have some length, and we have some athleticism that contribute to us being good defensively.”

Graham Ike led all players with 21 points and eight rebounds Sunday. The Cowboys’ other four starters also scored in double digits.

“Defensively, it comes down to who is the more locked-in team,” said Jeremiah Oden, who added 17 points and six rebounds. “I think we’ve done a good job of being the more locked-in team so far.”

The Huskies lost their opener against Northern Illinois, but have bounced back with victories against Northern Arizona and Texas Southern. The latter was a 72-65 decision Sunday as the hosts forced 21 turnovers and converted those into 27 points. That was despite Texas Southern having a 52-29 rebounding advantage with 29 offensive boards.

Huskies coach Mike Hopkins eschewed his preferred 2-3 defense at times in the second half to go with a smaller lineup using a full-court press and a man-to-man defense.

“I thought our press changed the game. To be able to have both weapons is a good thing, obviously,” Hopkins said. “We still have to get better in our man. We have to get better in our zone. That’s part of the growth.”

Terrell Brown Jr., a transfer from Arizona, led the Huskies with 20 points and nine assists.

–Field Level Media

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