Utah, riding a two game losing streak, will face a rejuvenated Wyoming team tonight in Laramie. The Cowboys are coming off a stunning victory against San Diego State on Saturday. That victory snapped Wyoming's four game losing streak and gave them a 5-7 record in Mountain West play. The Cowboys are currently 5th in the conference, while the Utes are in 8th place.
Utah won the last meeting 62-60 in Salt Lake City and they haven't lost to the Cowboys in Laramie since the 2003-2004 season. Utah swept the regular season series last year, however lost to the Cowboys in the second round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Wyoming owns a 46-31 record against Utah in Laramie, while the Utes lead the all-time series 90-71.
This game could get ugly quickly, as the Utes might be without starting center, and leading scorer, Luke Nevill. Nevill suffered a right hip pointer in practice earlier this week and is questionable for tonight's game. The Utes will also be without guard Curtis Eatmon, who broke his nose in the first half of Utah's loss to UNLV Saturday.
Wyoming is led by sophomore Brandon Ewing, who averages 19.5 points per game and shoots 30% from behind the arc. Junior Brad Jones is second in scoring with 17.5 points per game. The Cowboys offense ranks 4th in the conference, but their defense is at the bottom, coming in at 9th. With how poorly Utah and Wyoming play defense, this game could be a high-scoring slugfest. Of course with Utah's recent scoring droughts over the past few weeks, the Utes' offense might dig themselves into a hole far too big to climb out of, especially on the road. In their last game, both teams had a difficult time connecting on shots and played rather disappointingly, and I expect tonight's game to be an extension of that.
Wyoming will prove to be too much for the hobbled Utes and they should easily record their first victory at home against Utah in three years. The inevitable loss tonight will guarantee the Utes a losing conference record for the second year in a row. Something that hasn't happened in 18 years.