Wyoming rode 22 points from forward Reggie Slater to an 86-80 victory over BYU here Saturday.
Slater, who had been held to six points - less than a third of his average - in Thursday's game against Utah, had that many in the first few minutes Saturday. Against the Cougars, he made eight of 13 from the field and pulled down 13 rebounds.But while Slater was the Cowboys' offense for the first 30 minutes of the game, it was guard Maurice Alexander who was the big gun down the stretch. Alexander scored 12 of the 'Pokes final 15 points to hold off a late BYU run.
BYU may not have played its finest game here, but it wasn't the Cougars' worst outing, either. The big difference seemed to be motivation. Wyoming knew it had to win this home game to stay in the WAC title chase; it wasn't quite as crucial for BYU.
Still, BYU played below its season averages in several categories. The Cougars were outrebounded a whopping 47-31, a rare occurence for this tall BYU squad.
The Cowboys hit the offensive boards hard, no doubt responding to a chewing out after giving up 17 offensive rebouds to the Utes. They got 23 offensive rebounds aginst the Cougs.
"They're a very good rebounding team," said guard Scott Moon. "They killed us on the boards."
Another glaring Cougar weakness was at the free-throw line, where they shot 61 percent and, more importantly, missed some big ones down the stretch.
"We had plenty of chances," said BYU Coach Roger Reid. "We just didn't capitalize on them."
The emotion in this game was evident early. By the time the ESPN-mandated 10 p.m. starting time rolled around, the Arena-Auditorium crowd had whipped itself into even more than the typical frenzy. They chanted all the usual BYU-directed chants, obscene and otherwise, plus a new one just for Shawn Bradley -- "Gain some weight."
In the early going, the most impressive thing about the Cowboy offense was that they continually managed to put up shots effectively around and over the arms of Shawn Bradley. Slater especially showed no qualms about taking the ball right at the 7-foot-6 BYU center. In the first half alone, Wyoming had four layups and seven other shots within Bradley shot-blocking range. That's something other teams have tried, but with markedly less success.
The teams opened by trading baskets and leads for the first for the first few minutes. Wyoming used an 8-2 run to build a five-point lead at 20-15, and led again at 25-20, but BYU went on a 9-3 spurt to go in front 29-28.
It was the last time the Cougars would lead.
With the score 30-29 Wyoming, the teams engaged in a free-throw shooting contest. The Cowboys scored 11 the rest of the half, nine on free throws, while the Cougars scored six - four on free throws.
Indeed, a big difference in the half was at the free-throw line. Wyoming tried 20 foul shots and made 16; BYU shot 12, made seven.
On BYU's end, Bradley and guard Scott Moon did most of the damage. Bradley finished with 27 points and eight rebounds, Moon had a career-high 26 points. The only other Cougar in double figures was Steve Shreiner, with 12.
The loss drops BYU to 10-9 overall, 4-2 in the WAC. Wyoming is 14-3, 4-1 and alone in second place in the WAC.
BYU's next game is Thursday against Air Force in the Marriott Center.