One week ago today, BYU lost to Wyoming in Laramie because of two things: free throws and rebounding.
The Cowboys pummeled the Cougars on the boards, 47-31, and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. And BYU was whistled for 27 fouls, allowing the 'Pokes to attempt 38 free throws.All of the above numbers were season highs for the Cowboys, incidentally.
And despite all that, Wyoming won by a mere six points because BYU held it to a season-low 42.9 percent shooting effort.
BYU Coach Roger Reid didn't seem particularly disturbed this week by those numbers. "The encouraging thing to me was that we only lost by six and had chances to win," he said.
Encouraged by bunches of fouls and a huge rebound deficit? Yep. For one thing, Reid probably knows there's no way Wyoming is going to shoot 38 free throws in the Marriott Center.
For another thing, Reid realizes that Wyoming isn't coming off a loss at home to Utah this time. A week ago Thursday, the Utes badly outrebounded the 'Pokes and stifled Cowboy star Reggie Slater. He took his frustrations out on the Cougs.
"When he had six points against Utah, that's when I got nervous," Reid said.
Slater was particularly effective in the first half of that game, using his NBA-size body to get good position inside and score 18 points. He seemed to tire in the second half, but guard Maurice Alexander took over, scoring 15 points on three-pointers and free throws.
The Cougars need a victory against the 'Pokes to remain in contention in the WAC. With the Runnin'-away Utes 7-0 and a good bet to reach 8-0 with a win against Air Force tonight, a loss to Wyoming would put the Cougs at 4-3 and hoping for a Ute letdown.
And right now, that seems like a lot to hope for.
Tonight's game starts at 7:30 and will be televised live on KSL-TV (Channel 5). It will also be rebroadcast at 10:30 p.m. on KBYU-TV (Channel 11).