Men’s basketball wins in Wyoming

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    By Nicholas Goodfellow

    BYU”s road woes are no longer an issue as the Cougars handed Wyoming its first home conference loss of the season, 74-66, in front of the Cowboys” third-largest crowd in history.

    With the win, the Cougars move to 5-1 in conference, but more importantly, 2-0 on the road. The conference is very tight, and it could come down to who wins the most road games.

    “It was a great basketball game,” Wyoming coach Steve McClain said. “I knew BYU had a good team coming in here. They”ve beat some quality teams.”

    This was also Steve Cleveland”s first win in Wyoming in his six-year career as head coach.

    “Last year was a competitive game and the year before we were up 16 or 17 and couldn”t finish it off,” Cleveland said. “Tonight we were up and as things started slipping away one guy after another came up big for the team.”

    BYU looked as if it was on a mission from the very beginning of the game. The Cougars jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on two field goals by senior guard Travis Hansen.

    After a two point basket by Wyoming”s Euche Nsonwu-Amadi, junior Rafael Araujo added his first three-point field goal of the year, making the score 8-2.

    The first half was a defensive battle that hurt BYU the most. The Cougars got into early foul trouble that caused them to go to the bench early on.

    But after the Cowboys” Donta Richardson gave Wyoming its first lead at 12-11, the Cougars made sure that that they turned up the defensive pressure as they were able to hold the Cowboys in check the rest of the half, never yielding the lead again and taking a 35-28 lead into the locker room.

    In the beginning of the second half, the Cougars looked to finish off the Cowboys right away as a combination of field goals by sophomore Jared Jensen, Araujo, and Hansen gave BYU a 13-point lead at 41-28.

    But soon after Araujo picked up his fourth foul, causing Cleveland to go to the bench for some help. As Jensen came into the game and took over the post position, Wyoming decided to pound the ball inside and try to get Jensen in foul trouble as well. That they did, as Jensen fouled out of the game with just over 12 minutes to go.

    This put Wyoming in the driver”s seat, and the Cowboys began to take advantage of the Cougars inside post play. An Nsonwu-Amadi field goal with nine minutes to go in the game brought the Cowboys to within six, but that is as close as they would get.

    Junior Mark Bigelow, Hansen, and the exceptional play of the Cougars” bench was the difference in the game.

    “I told Travis and Mark that we aren”t going to win anywhere in this league unless they play well every night,” Cleveland said.

    Travis Hansen finished the game with 15 points and was BYU”s emotional leader all game.

    “(Travis) is driven and he wants to win,” Cleveland said. “He is willing to give everything every night. Nobody can ever question his effort for this team.”

    Bigelow led the Cougars with 23 points, while Araujo added 17 points and 7 rebounds.

    The Cougars improve to 16-5 on the season, and 5-1 in conference play.

    Next up for the Cougars is Colorado State on Monday, Feb. 10. The Rams are coming off a close loss to Utah, and will be hungry for a victory.

    Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Fort Collins and can be heard on KSL radio 1160.

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