In the minutes after a disappointing loss on Wednesday, the Wyoming Cowboys spoke about how they needed to play in order to win.

Over the final 20 minutes on Saturday, they put those words into action.

The San Diego State Aztecs dominated the glass and shot better than 50 percent, but the Pokes willed themselves to victory, coming back from double-digit deficits twice thanks to their tenacious pressure defense and 20 minutes of non-stop effort.

"That’s our identity," UW sophomore guard Afam Muojeke said. "That's us. That's what we do, and when we don't, we’re not going to be very successful.

"If we bring that every night, I think it'll change a lot of games."

It certainly changed the game on Saturday.

The Pokes forced 15 second-half turnovers, many of them leading to easy buckets in the backcourt, and scored 32 points off of Aztecs blunders.

"I definitely think that's what we've got to do every night," UW sophomore captain JayDee Luster said. "We've got to pressure the ball for 40 minutes and get into people, be a pack of dogs like the coaches say."

It wasn’t the first time the Cowboys have displayed that mentality.

They put together strong first halves in all three of their true nonconference road games only to falter, dominated Boise State at home and took down Northern Colorado in the Wyoming Shootout.

But their 8-8 record is indicative of their inability to sustain that effort over 40 minutes and over multiple games in a row.

Perhaps such a victory as the one UW posted Saturday will be enough, particularly with just two days between games, for the Pokes to keep that momentum rolling.

"When you taste success, it's a little bit easier, as a coach, to refer back and remember this game," UW coach Heath Schroyer said. "Until you have some of those experiences, it's hard to refer back, but obviously we have that now."

In particular, they can refer back to the final four-plus minutes.

The Pokes had battled back from a 16-point deficit to make it a three-point game midway through the second half, but trailed by 14 with just over four minutes left.

It appeared that the Cowboys had put up a hard fight but were about to fall to 0-2 in league play.

Instead, they persisted with the pressure and energy, hitting clutch shots down the stretch to complete the comeback and realize that their grit can win them ballgames.

"If you don't play at your ultimate level -- sense of urgency, energy, play hard, execute -- you have no chance in this league," Schroyer said. "If you do, you've got a chance every night."

The Cowboys will get their next chance Tuesday night at TCU.

CALIFORNIA GUARD VISITS UW: Joe Hudson, a guard from Escondido, Calif., was in attendance at the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday, but it wasn’t to see San Diego State, a team from his own backyard.

Hudson, a 6-foot-1 guard from Escondido High School, averaged more than 21 points and hit 85 3-pointers as a junior and entered the 2010 calendar year averaging nearly 25 points per game as a senior, according to a Dec. 31 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The story listed programs such as Cornell as having interest in Hudson.

Contact sports reporter Eric Schmoldt at eric.schmoldt@trib.com. Check out his blog at tribtown.trib.com/ESchmoldt/blog

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