The Wyoming Cowboys have come a long way.

After its second preseason scrimmage on Oct. 18, head coach Larry Shyatt said he liked his team's selflessness on the offensive end, but the amount of easy baskets was a concern.

Riley Grabau and Austin Haldorson each drained four 3-pointers in the scrimmage, while freshman Trey Washington III knocked in 3.

You could call it good offense, but Shyatt suspected lazy defense was more to blame. He had a young team, and he wasn't sure they were ready to embrace a disciplined, grind-it-out lifestyle on the defensive end.

"I have to get them to have more fun on defense, and use that as a challenge," Shyatt said at the time.

Now, flash forward to Saturday night.

Inside the Events Center in San Jose, Wyoming (16-9, 7-5) stifled the San Jose State Spartans and allowed a Mountain West record nine second half points. The Spartans managed only 38 points in the game and went scoreless in the final 5 minutes, 36 seconds of regulation.

The performance was epic, but it also wasn't a fluke. The Cowboys allow only 59.6 points per game this season, ranking second in the Mountain West and 12th in all of the NCAA.

And yes, this is the same team that Shyatt worried about in October.

Same players? Yes. Same mindset? Not quite.

“Earlier in the year, we recognized that we had a lot of talent offensively," sophomore guard Josh Adams said. "A lot of people were bringing different pieces to the offensive puzzle. We thought we could get by with just that.

"But some big losses that we could’ve won got into our heads and made us realize that defense is what we need to do. In conference, we really got back to that.”

Twelve games into the conference season, the Cowboys have yet to allow more than 72 points in a game. They have held six of 12 opponents to less than 60 points and won five of those games.

As they continued to enforce their will, the Cowboys gradually earned a reputation. Currently sitting fourth in the Mountain West, they're a team nobody wants to play.

“If you hear somebody from another team say that Laramie is a tough place to play or that our team has a great defense, or that we’re smart or tough, you really hang your hat on that and you enjoy it," junior guard Riley Grabau said. "You see it in people’s faces when you’re guarding them and stopping them.”

Wyoming faces another defensive challenge on Tuesday, when it hosts a Fresno State team that has won five consecutive games and defeated the Cowboys 67-62 in Fresno, Calif., on Jan. 29.

The Bulldogs, who shot 53.3 percent from the field in the teams' first meeting, are led by senior Tyler Johnson and a slew of dangerous guards.

This time around, the Cowboys know what they're facing. But that doesn't make it any easier to stop.

“It’s hard to adjust on a team like Fresno," Grabau said. "They can beat you any way possible -- the 3, driving, layups, transition. They’re a dangerous team, and we’re going to have to be ready.”