IRVINE — There was so much good news to digest Friday night, UC Irvine men's basketball coach Russell Turner took a while to identify the most difficult part of his Anteaters' 83-68 nonconference win over Wyoming at the Bren Events Center.
"It's going to be hard to keep finding a way to get everybody minutes," Turner said while surveying a stat sheet that recorded a balancing act that any coach would covet.
Five players scored in double figures for UCI, which improved to 5-4 and snapped a two-game home losing streak. All 10 players in uniform for the 'Eaters played and nine of those provided production while playing at least 10 minutes.
"This is a great stat sheet for a number of reasons," said Turner, who welcomed back junior standout Eric Wise from a four-game absence due to a hip injury, but had six players either hurt or redshirting on the bench against the Cowboys.
"There were a lot of guys in double figures," Turner said. "I liked the way we balanced the minutes, and the way we balanced the shots. That's got to be the strength of this team, if we can get a number of different guys playing well together. Right now, we've got a collective confidence about us, which is one of the keys to having a chance to win. We gave ourselves a chance to win and we won."
With UCI whipping the ball around the perimeter and kicking precisely off penetration, the hosts made 28 of 48 field-goal tries, including 10 for 18 from three-point range. The 58.3% accuracy from the field was a season high.
Of the eight UCI players who took shots, only one failed to make at least half of his attempts.
Senior co-captains Darren Moore and Patrick Rembert had 15 and 13 points, respectively, while sophomore guard Daman Starring had a career-high 14, making five of his seven shots from the field.
Junior Derrick Strings was four of seven from three-point range to contribute 14 points off the bench and Wise, who did not start, chipped in 12 points in 24 minutes, sinking four of his seven field-goal tries.
"It's kind of easy when you've got a number of guys who are hurt and we don't have many options," Turner said of his substitution decisions. "[As players return] it's going to be hard to keep finding a way to get everybody minutes. We played without freshman Chris McNealy tonight (hip injury), who had been getting 20-some minutes a game. And shoot, we didn't even miss him."
Misses were rare for UCI, which netted 13 of 21 second-half field-goal tries (61.9%), which enabled it to extend a 43-28 halftime lead to a 22-point cushion not quite four minutes into the second half.
Wyoming (3-6), which has lost four straight and 14 in a row on the road, never got closer than 13 down the stretch.
Moore led UCI with seven rebounds, while sophomore Mike Wilder added four.
Wilder shared team-high assist honors with Rembert (both with three), as the hosts had 14 assists and 17 turnovers.
UCI was also 17 of 20 from the free-throw line.
"The best thing right now is, this team is playing unselfish basketball, so guys like to play," Turner said. "They have embraced the way we're playing and embraced each other, because we're all kind of doing the right thing. It's not going to be that way the entire season, but we've got that now and we've got to recognize it and continue to emphasize how important that is to being a winning team."
UC Irvine 83, Wyoming 68
Wyo – Thiam 12, M'Baye 11, Cruz 14, Jackson 12, Luster 4, Harrison 10, Muojeke 5.
3-pt. goals – Cruz 2, M'Baye 1, Muojeke 1, Harrison 1.
Fouled out – M'Baye.
Technicals – None.
UCI – Losonsky 6, Moore 15, Starring 14, Rembert 13, Wilder 5, Strings 14, Wise 12, Simek 4.
3-pt. goals – Strings 4, Rembert 3, Starring 1 , Moore 1, Wilder 1 .
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
Halftime – UCI, 43-28.