LARAMIE, Wyo. — It had to happen sooner or later. You knew Utah wasn't going to win every single game under interim coach Kerry Rupp.

But a loss to last-place Wyoming?

Sure enough, the Utes' four-game winning streak under Rupp came to an abrupt halt Monday night as the Cowboys defeated the Utes 74-65 before 7,712 at the Arena-Auditorium.

The loss dropped the Utes to 7-3 in the Mountain West Conference, two games behind Air Force in the loss column with the Falcons coming to the Huntsman Center Saturday afternoon.

The Cowboys, playing with more resolve that the Utes most of the night, broke a four-game losing streak and improved to 3-7 in MWC play and 10-13 overall.

"They came out with the eye of the tiger and we didn't match their aggressiveness," said Rupp. "They hit the boards hard and were ready to play."

Afterwards, Rupp must have said 10 times that the Utes didn't get the ball inside enough, which was true. But the big difference in the game came at the guard position where the Cowboys starters outscored Utah's by a whopping 37 to 11.

After combining for 46 points in a win over Colorado State Saturday night, Utah's Nick Jacobson and Tim Drisdom could only manage eight and three points, respectively. Jacobson had perhaps his worst shooting night as a Ute, making just 3 of 17 from the field, while Drisdom only shot twice, making one.

Meanwhile Wyoming's guards led the way as Jay Straight, coming off a five-point night against BYU, scored 22 points and freshman Mikel Watson scored a career-high 15 points, including three 3-pointers.

Wyoming coach Steve McClain said his team was very aware of Utah's two guards, especially Drisdom's offense over the past four games.

"We made up our minds we were not going to give (Drisdom) a gap,"

he said. "We tried to trap him every time he came off a pick and make him throw it to someone else. Mikel did a really good job of not giving Drisdom any opening to shoot tonight."

Against Jacobson, the Cowboys tried to "never give him a clean look," said McClain.

Aside from the guard play, the Utes still had a chance to win this one with Tim Frost playing his best game of the year, scoring 19 points, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and Andrew Bogut and freshman Justin Hawkins each scoring 14 points. Also the Utes shot 49 pecent from the field, compared to just 39.3 percent for the Cowboys.

However, the big difference came on the glass, where the Cowboys outrebounded the Utes 37 to 33 and grabbed 18 offensive boards, which led to 20 second-chance points.

"You can't win when you give a team 18 offensive rebounds," said Rupp.

"When you get 18 offensive rebounds against Utah, you're shocked,"

said McClain.

After falling behind 35-30 at halftime and letting the Cowboys score the first six points of the second half, the Utes fought back and made a game of it. When Hawkins scored on a drive with 3:15 left, the Utes closed the gap to 61-59.

But at the other end, the Cowboys executed a nice pick and roll and Joe Ries scored a layup off a pass from Straight. Then the Utes turned the ball over when a pass from Hawkins sailed over the head of freshman Josh Olsen, who was looking the other way.

On Wyoming's next two possessions, it appeared the ball went off Straight's leg into the backcourt twice with no violation being called.

Rupp thought the same thing, but wasn't blaming the officials afterwards.

"The officials didn't stop us from blocking out or hustling after loose balls," he said. "I think things even out most of the time."

After Drisdom lost the ball with the shot clock running down, the Cowboys increased their lead to six on two free throws by David Adams with 1:00 left.

Jacobson made his second three of the night (he was only 2 for 12) with 49 seconds left to make it a three-point game, but his missed his next two tries and the Cowboys wrapped it up with 10 free throws in the final 48 seconds.

Jacobson had no answer for his off night, saying, "I just couldn't hit them, couldn't hit the rim."

But he knew it was more than his poor shooting performance that hurt the Utes.

"It still came down to us not getting rebounds, all of us,".

"They outhustled us from start to finish," added Drisdom. "We didn't match their intensity."

The Utes appeared to be on cruise control when they jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead. However, the Cowboys were more aggressive on the offensive boards and they started sinking their 3-pointers as they went on a 17-4 run to take a 20-11 lead with 12:52 left.

"We were attacking them every time we could and trying not to let their defense get set," said McClain.

Next up for the Utes will be a crucial game against Air Force Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. The Falcons are 8-1 in MWC play and 18-4 after a 37-35 road loss to Texas-Pan American Monday night.


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