By Chad Newswander
The men”s basketball team continued its losing trend on the road when BYU lost to Wyoming Thursday night, Feb. 28. The Cougars have not been able to pull out a victory at The Arena-Auditorium since 1996.
Before the game, BYU had a Rating Percentage Index (RPI) of 33. According to CNNSI.com this would give the Cougars a chance to get into the NCAA tournament, but the Cougar bubble is on the merge of bursting.
They needed a victory on the road to stay in the hunt for the Big Dance said CNNSI.com. The only problem for the Cougars is that they didn”t win.
The Cowboys controlled the flow of the game from the start. In the second half, the Cowboys were controlling the boards and had outrebounded the Cougars 50-25. With 13 minutes remaining, Wyoming had pulled down 13 offensive boards.
“When we are really good is when we can rebound and get out and run,” Wyoming assistant coach Heath Schroyer said.
The Cowboys built a five point lead at halftime with good rebounding and shooting. They continued to gradually pull away from BYU in the second half.
Wyoming expanded its lead to 19 points. The Cougars needed to be accurate from beyond the arc and get to the free-throw line if they wanted to steal a victory on the road.
“If we do win tonight it will be because we shoot the three well and get to the line a multiple of times,” Cougar head coach Steve Cleveland said prior to the game.
BYU did neither very well. The Cougars got to the line three times in the first half and shot poorly from the 3-point line. Defensively, they were nowhere to be found.
“We have been a tale of two teams on the road defensively. At home, we are giving up 62 points and on the road we are giving up 74,” Cleveland said.
The Cowboys put up 76 points on BYU. All five starters for Wyoming were in double-digits.
The Cougars have now lost nine straight games on the road and have yet to win a conference road game.
They are the only team in the conference who has not lost a game at home, but neither have they won a game on the road.
It was also the first time BYU has lost during the last week of MWC play.
The one positive note for the Cougars was when senior point guard Matt Montague passed Danny Ainge”s all-time BYU assist record. Montague now has more than 539 assists during his four years at BYU.
The Cougars will play their final conference game of the season when they face Colorado State Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in the Moby Arena.