The last time Tulsa and BYU met, the Cougars were on the rise. They were coming off a win over Ohio State and on their way to winning three of four games.
But that was five weeks ago. Now the Cougars have lost six straight games, and their hopes of making the WAC Tournament are fading. They are 6-16 overall, 1-7 in WAC play, going into today's non-conference game against Tulsa. Tipoff is at 7:05 p.m."In order for us to beat any team in the WAC," said BYU coach Steve Cleveland, "three or four players have got to play really well."
That didn't happen in their 83-68 loss to Utah on Thursday. They shot .347 from the field, thanks to a 7-for-28 second-half shooting slump. They have been shooting .372 for the year. They were out-rebounded by 10, though that wasn't bad considering the Utes' size advantage.
The recent losing streak raises the question of whether the Cougars are making progress. "Absolutely," said Cleveland. "We're a better team than we were before the (Utah) game just because, if nothing else, we've had three good practices."
Having a good game is another matter. Although freshman Mekeli Wesley scored 28 points against the Utes and Danny Bower made three of four shots, the rest of the team struggled. Cleveland said he needs to get about 20 points apiece from Wesley and Ron Selleaze and 16 from Bower. He got 11 from Sel-leaze and 10 from Bower.
Most disconcerting for the Cougars is the continued shooting slump of Selleaze. He has made just 18 of his last 69 field-goal attempts (.260) and missed 15 straight 3-point attempts.
"Ron puts a lot of pressure on himself," said Cleveland. "But it isn't like he isn't working to get better. He spends about an hour a day after practice shooting."
BYU's goal all along has been modest: to make the WAC Tournament. To do that, the Cougars must finish among the top six teams in the eight-team Mountain Division. The Cougars are tied for last with Air Force. UNLV and UTEP are two games ahead with 3-5 records. BYU has six WAC games re-main-ing.
BYU beat Tulsa on the road, 57-53 on Jan. 3.