Feb. 11, 2005
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys began the second half of Mountain West Conference play last Monday with an 81-71 home victory over New Mexico. That gave the Pokes sole possession of third place in the conference race.
The Pokes have been the surprise team of the Mountain West Conference this season. Wyoming is not only in third place in the conference race, but has the second highest RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) in the MWC. UW's RPI according to CollegeRPI.com ranks No. 85 out of 330 NCAA Division I teams. Only Utah, with an RPI ranking of 21, ranks higher than the Cowboys among MWC teams.
UW will be looking for its sixth win in the last seven games when it travels to Provo, Utah, this Saturday to meet Brigham Young University for the 161st time in the series. BYU leads the overall series 92-68. Wyoming defeated the Cougars earlier this season in Laramie before a national television audience on ESPN. The Cowboys won that game by a score of 83-71 on Jan. 17. Wyoming will be looking for its first win in Provo since Feb. 8, 1997, when UW came away with a 72-60 victory. The 1996-97 season was also the last time Wyoming swept the season series versus Brigham Young. BYU has won the last six games vs. the Pokes in Provo.
Wyoming head coach Steve McClain and BYU head coach Steve Cleveland have won more games in Mountain West Conference play than any other coaches in the six-year history of the league. McClain enters Saturday's game with an MWC record of 46-32 (.590). Cleveland's conference record stands at 47-31 (.603).
In the most recent NCAA rankings, Wyoming was ranked among the top rebounding and shot-blocking teams in the country. UW ranks No. 20 in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 5.33 blocked shots per game. The Pokes rank No. 33 in the nation in rebounding margin, out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 5.6 rebounds per game.
An individual milestone that could be reached in Saturday's game between the Cowboys and Cougars is a new Mountain West Conference single-season record for blocked shots. Wyoming's Justin Williams enters Saturday's game with 68 blocks this season. The MWC record is held by Wayland White of New Mexico, who blocked 70 opponent shots back in the 1999-2000 season.
Saturday's game will be televised by SportsWest TV. In the state of Wyoming the SportsWest affiliate is KTWO-TV of Casper, Wyo. The game is set to tip off at 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time. The game will also be broadcast on the Cowboy Sports Radio Network, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the pregame show.