Wyoming will be looking to build on its recent success when the Cowboys travel to Salt Lake City on Wednesday to face the Utah Utes.
Both teams are coming off crucial weekend victories, but the Pokes (7-11 overall, 1-5 Mountain West Conference) are hoping that after starting league play 0-5, their big win over Colorado State on Saturday will spark a bit of good fortune.
"Hopefully this will get us going," Brandon Ewing said after the win over the Rams. "That's pretty much how conference is. If you win one game, you pretty much just start winning."
After suffering a pair of overtime losses at home to start league play, the Cowboys were finally able to close things out down the stretch, putting up 12 unanswered points late in the game and galloping to a 73-58 victory over their archrivals.
Now the Pokes are hoping to duplicate the feat on the road—something they've been hard-pressed to accomplish this season. Wyoming has won only twice outside the confines of the Arena Auditorium in 2007-08, but for Ewing, it's simply a matter of desire.
"We've just got to go in there and stay focused and don't just give the game away," he said. "We've got to take it from them."
That will mean finding a way to shut down the Utes' All-American candidate Luke Nevill and their floor leader and 3-point specialist Johnnie Bryant. Nevill, a 7-foot-1 center, is just three rebounds per game shy of averaging a double-double, and Bryant sunk eight 3-pointers—a school record—during Utah's 74-58 win over TCU on Saturday.
"We need to come out fast," said UW's Travis Nelson, who had 16 points and nine rebounds against CSU, "and if we do, in the second half, we need to keep it going strong."
But the Utes (11-7, 2-3) will have their own set of challenges to deal with, facing a Wyoming squad that has gained fresh confidence after putting together a pair of inspiring offensive performances over the past seven days. The Cowboys' 73 points against the Rams on Saturday were the most UW has scored in a conference game that didn't go into overtime this year, and against UNLV last Wednesday, the Pokes knocked down nine 3-pointers and shot better than 45 percent from the field.
"I think we're one of the scariest teams right now," Ewing said. "People don't really want to play us."
Ewing will lead the charge for Wyoming after coming off his best week of the season. He averaged 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals against CSU and UNLV, and on Saturday he led UW in scoring (19 points), assists (five), steals (five—a career high) and minutes played (40). He also shot 50.0 percent from the field (6 of 12) and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line (6 of 7) versus the Rams. In Las Vegas, he led the Cowboys with a season-high 26 points, shot 52.9 percent from the field (9 of 17), tied a career-high with six 3-pointers and pulled down a season-high nine boards. His 26 points marked his 30th career 20-point game for the Cowboys.
"We get up at 7:30 in the morning to shoot," he said. "Almost everybody's shooting percentage is up. I'm shooting close to 40 percent from three-point range. I've never done that in my life."
This week's meeting with Utah will be the 162nd between the two schools. Wyoming trails in the overall series with 72 wins against 89 losses. The last time the Pokes won in Salt Lake City was Feb. 4, 2002, by a score of 54-46.
Following Wednesday's game at Utah, Wyoming will return home to host the BYU Cougars on Saturday, Feb. 2 in a game set to tip off at 2 p.m.
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