Senior guard Luke Martinez scored 17 points to pace three Cowboys in double figures, as the University of Wyoming men's basketball earned its second-straight road win with a 68-40 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night in the Thunderdome.
The Pokes led by just 13 at halftime, before outscoring the Gauchos 30-19 in the second half to improve to 7-0 on the season for the first time since 1987-88.
"The whole crew really played well collectively at both ends of the floor tonight," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "That's unique and doesn't always happen on the road or at home. No one was an energy taker. Everyone was an energy giver tonight. They should be proud of that, especially on the road."
Martinez's 17 points came on 5-of-8 beyond the arc, as he added five rebounds, an assist and a steal. Fellow senior guard Derrious Gilmore added 12 points and a career-high six assists and five rebounds, while sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. tied a career-high with 12 points and added a team-high six rebounds.
The Cowboy defense was the most impressive part of the night, though, as Wyoming held UCSB to just 40 points, a season low for a UW opponent, and 28 percent (16-of-56) from the field. UCSB hit just 6-of-24 (25 percent) beyond the arc and was 2-of-3 at the free throw line.
The Cowboy offense rolled behind 48 percent (19-of-39) from the field, 41 percent (7-of-17) from deep and 85 percent (23-of-27) at the free throw line. UW earned a 33-30 advantage in rebounds and 9-6 in steals.
"We were very consistent at both ends for the whole game," Shyatt said. "Our determination on defense and rebounding the ball was excellent. As the game wore on, we got better as a group and got better on their bigs. We were fortunate they got into some foul trouble."
The Pokes jumped out to a 6-0 start to the game thanks to jumper from sophomore guard Riley Grabau and Nance and free throws from Martinez.
The Gauchos (2-4) would briefly take a 7-6 lead thanks to a trey at the 15:15 mark, but Wyoming responded with a 9-0 run thanks to six-straight points from Nance and a three from Martinez.
The spurt put the Pokes up 15-7 with 13:14 left in the first half, and UW would maintain the advantage until halftime.
A nasty jam from senior forward Leonard Washington and another Martinez bomb kept Wyoming in front, until the Gauchos pulled within five at 23-18 with 3:32 to go. Wyoming closed the half with an 11-3 run, though, to go into halftime up 34-21.
Wyoming shot 48 percent (11-of-23) from the field and 30 percent (3-of-10) beyond the arc in the first half to 35 percent (9-of-26) and 33 percent (3-of-9) for the Gauchos. UW went 9-of-10 at the free throw line, while UCSB didn't shoot any free throws in the first half.
The Cowboys earned a 17-13 advantage in rebounds and committed just eight turnovers to 10 for UCSB. Martinez had 12 points in the first half, while Nance added 11 points and four rebounds.
It was more of the same in the second half, as Wyoming extended its lead to as many as 27 to take home the easy victory.
The Gauchos pulled within 10 just four minutes into the half, but back-to-back threes from Martinez put the Cowboys up by 16 at 42-26 and the Pokes cranked down on the defensive end.
UW held UCSB to just 11 points through the first 14 minutes of the second half and outscored the Gauchos 30-19 in the frame.
Wyoming faces its first ranked opponent of the season when the Pokes welcome No. 19 Colorado to the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Fans can purchase tickets by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at GoWYO.com.
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