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February 20, 2013SAN DIEGO - Dwayne Polee Jr. wasn't shy about making the most of an extended appearance for the San Diego State Aztecs.
The back-up forward made two 3-pointers and a three-point play during a 23-1 run that carried San Diego State to a 79-51 victory Tuesday night over Wyoming, which was without leading scorer and rebounder Leonard Washington.
He tied his career-high with 16 points in 17 minutes, his most since Jan. 2 against Cal State Bakersfield.
"With James Rahon going down, he's a big part of our offense, and he pulled me to the side before the game and said I've got to step up tonight," Polee said. "That's exactly what I did. My coaches and teammates, they all gave me the confidence to go out and there and do what I knew I could do from the jump."
Rahon hurt his right shoulder in a loss at UNLV on Saturday.
Polee said he's just had to be patient.
"I'm playing behind a lot of great players right now that have a lot of Aztec history," Polee said. "Right now I'm just waiting my turn and when I get in, making the most of my minutes. It felt really good, knowing I could finally do that, and play my game the way I know I can."
The victory atoned for one of San Diego State's bleakest losses this season, a 58-45 defeat against the Cowboys in Laramie on Jan. 19, when the Aztecs scored only nine points in the first half.
San Diego State (19-7, 7-5 Mountain West), which shot 68.2 percent from the field, came into the game on a two-game losing streak and in a three-way tie for third place. After sharing the regular-season league title the last two years, the Aztecs are fighting for a decent seed in the conference tournament next month.
Jamaal Franklin had a game-high 20 points for the Aztecs and Winston Shepard scored 12 points while J.J. O'Brien had 10.
Polee has earned more playing time.
"I'm a guy who has gone eight-deep most of time, so now he's on the radar," coach Steve Fisher said. "So we're going to have to find a way to give him a segment to see what he's going to do. If he plays close to what he did tonight, we'll have to keep him in the rotation, give him a few more minutes, because he was good for us. He played well.
"He's earned an opportunity to get some minutes, with or without James Rahon. It's a good problem to have," Fisher said.
Derrious Gilmore scored 15 and Matt Sellers had 10 for Wyoming (18-8, 4-8), which was out-rebounded 35-16 and shot only 37.7 percent.
Wyoming was a non-factor without Washington, who was out with an ankle injury. Washington leads the Cowboys with 13.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Without him, the Cowboys were only able to hang with the Aztecs for only a few minutes. They shot a dismal 16.7 percent in the first half.
"San Diego State was the difference," Wyoming coachLarry Shyatt said about the difference between this game and the one in Laramie. "They whipped us about every way you can. They had a few guys that haven't been able to put the ball in the hole all season that made jump shots. But this was not the type of game that we're used to playing. Kudos to them. They played terrific."
The Cowboys went more than 10 minutes without a field goal in the first half. Trailing 7-6, San Diego State went on a 15-0 run, including Polee's first 3-pointer, before Wyoming scored again, when Larry Nance Jr. made the second of two free throws. Polee made another 3-pointer, Skylar Spencer had a slam dunk and Polee converted a three-point play to give the Aztecs a 29-8 lead with 6:42 before halftime. Austin Haldorson then hit a 3-pointer for Wyoming with 6:35 to go, the first field goal since Derek Cooke Jr.'s slam dunk 3:18 into the game. San Diego State led 37-13 at halftime.
Fisher said Washington "is a load inside and would have made a difference, but I think with our effort and energy, even with him, we would have found a way to win."
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