LARAMIE, Wyo. — Tonight's BYU-Wyoming game features a team sky high against a squad sorely scorched.
BYU visits Wyoming tonight in Arena Auditorium, fresh off a lofty 27-point thumping of UNLV in Provo while the Cowboys absorbed a 45-point whipping at Air Force, trying to play with a short-handed roster.
The game will be televised on The mtn., at 7 p.m.
That is a 72-point difference in the experience BYU (17-6, 7-2) and Wyoming (13-10, 4-5) had during two opposite outcomes last Saturday.
The Cougars have won 12 of their past 14 and join the Falcons atop the MWC standings; Wyoming is trying to regroup emotionally and physically from a very bad week.
"It's frustrating, no question," said Wyoming coach Steve McClain of his team's situation over the weekend going to Air Force without four key players, including disciplined players Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones and forward Joseph Taylor.
The MWC and Wyoming suspended the trio of Cowboys for fighting at New Mexico last Wednesday. A fourth Cowboy, 6-9 center Daaron Brown, missed his third straight game at AFA due to an ankle injury.
While Ewing and Taylor return from suspensions tonight against the Cougars, McClain has suspended Taylor indefinitely. Brown, who had a solid game against the Cougars in Provo, is not ready to return to action, according to McClain Monday. The Cowboys have gone 1-2 without Brown, who remains the Cowboys' leading rebounder and most accurate shooter.
McClain said when he returned to Laramie from the AFA whipping, he saw cars belonging to Taylor and Ewing in the parking lot of the gym. "I'm assuming they were working out. In Sunday's practice, they were ready to go. We were focused and had a good practice in preparation for BYU."
McClain said his staff and players didn't say one word about the 45-point drubbing or the suspensions Sunday. "We got back and worked on BYU."
With Ewing and Jones back in the lineup, McClain's attention is on his front line where Benny Songondo, Ike Okoye, Eric Platt and Travis Nelson will try to team-tag BYU's front-line players of Trent Plaisted, Keena Young and Lee Cummard.
"We need all three of them to be solid," said McClain. "We don't need all three to be great, but just give us a solid effort offensively and defend and rebound on the defensive end. If they can, they can make up for Daaron not being in there."
The Cowboys are 9-1 at home, the only loss coming to 17th-ranked Air Force in a game that went down to the last second.
"The Arena-Auditorium has been very good to Wyoming over the years, but we've played well there," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "Wyoming has had a really good season this year at home so we know we'll have a challenge.
"We expect our guys to go in there and execute our game plan. Wyoming has been in a little bit of disarray over the suspensions, but they'll be back and they'll be ready.
"The three guards with James Spencer, Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones are as difficult a matchup as anybody in the league. All three are very, very talented. They're good passers and they can create shots and hit shots off the catch."