Wyoming Begins Second Half of MWC Season at Air Force

Feb. 1, 2007

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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The second half of Mountain West Conference play begins this Saturday for both the Wyoming Cowboys and Air Force Falcons when they face each other at the Air Force Academy in a 1 p.m. game that will be televised live on the mtn. (Mountain West Sports Network). As with all Cowboy Basketball games, the Cowboy Sports Network will broadcast the game on radio beginning one-half hour before tip off.

Wyoming will begin the second round of conference play tied for fourth place with Colorado State and San Diego State. The Cowboys have a 4-4 conference record and are 13-9 overall. Air Force is tied for the conference lead with UNLV and BYU. The Falcons are 6-2 in conference play and 19-3 overall.

Earlier this season, the Falcons captured a two-point, 58-56, victory in Laramie on a last second-shot.

The last seven times the two teams have met, the margins of victory have all been five points or less -- three five-point games, a four-point decision, two two-point contests and a one-point decision.

In the first round of last year's Mountain West Conference Tournament in Denver, Colo., it was the Cowboys who recorded a two-point victory, 57-55, in the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The last time the MWC rivals met in Colorado Springs was on Feb. 11, 2006. In that most recent meeting at the Air Force Academy, former Cowboy Justin Williams hit one of two free throws with three seconds remaining to tie the game at 61-61. Just when it looked as if the game would go to overtime, the Falcons threw the ball the length of the court and drew a foul. Falcon Jacob Burtschi then hit the first of two free throws with one second remaining to give Air Force the 62-61 victory.

Wyoming will play without four starters on Saturday - three due to suspension for their involvement in last Tuesday's incident during the Wyoming game at New Mexico, and a fourth starter due to injury.

Senior center Daaron Brown will miss his third consecutive game after spraining his left ankle against Colorado State on Jan. 24. Sophomore guard Brandon Ewing, junior guard Brad Jones and junior forward Joseph Taylor are all suspended from the Air Force game due to their involvement in the incident at New Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman and Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson jointly announced the suspensions of three Cowboy basketball players on Thursday, Feb. 1.

While the conference announced two-game suspensions for Taylor and Jones and a one-game suspension for Ewing, Wyoming head coach Steve McClain said that Taylor will be suspended indefinitely.

According to the league, the second game suspension for both Taylor and Jones must be served during Wyoming's game with New Mexico on March 3.

"Joseph's actions are not what the Wyoming program is all about," McClain said. "We cannot and will not tolerate that type of behavior. He let down his teammates and coaches, the program and our university. His indefinite suspension makes a strong statement to him that those actions cannot happen again.

"In the case of Brandon and Brad, the NCAA, the conference and our university, feel very strongly about being involved in any type of altercation," McClain continued. "We accept these penalties, and assure our fans that the Cowboy players understand the seriousness of these actions."

Jones received an automatic one-game suspension from Wyoming's game at Air Force on Saturday due to a flagrant technical foul and ejection for fighting (NCAA Rule 10, Section 19, Article 1) and an additional one-game suspension from the Cowboys' second meeting with New Mexico at Laramie, on March 3 for violations of the conference Sportsmanship Rule Sections 4.2-(a) through (d), and in accordance with the penalty structure outlined in Section 4.4.

Ewing received an automatic one-game suspension from Saturday's Air Force game due to a flagrant technical foul and ejection for fighting (NCAA Rule 10, Section 19, Article 1).

"We applaud Steve's decision regarding Joseph," said Burman. "We also have been working in conjunction with the University's Division of Student Affairs because we feel this is a student issue first. These suspensions are consistent with the policies of the university. We will abide by the conference ruling for Ewing and Jones."

Ewing and Jones both had started all 22 of Wyoming's games this season. Taylor had started 21 of the 22.

The projected starting lineup for the Cowboys for Saturday will include: junior James Spencer at one guard, freshman Eric Platt at the other guard spot, sophomore Ike Okoye at one forward, redshirt freshman Ryan Dermody at the other forward position and redshirt freshman Travis Nelson at center. It will be the first career starts for Platt, Dermody and Nelson.