If you're looking for bright spots - and BYU coach Steve Cleveland is certainly doing that - there's this: The Cougars have already beaten Wyoming once.
Other than that, the forecast is as gloomy as ever. They're on an eight-game losing streak going into tonight's 7:30 game at the Arena-Auditorium, in last place in the WAC's Mountain Division."I haven't seen a team walk on the floor this year and been able to say we're better than they are. Not one single team. Maybe Weber State was equal to us. But not once have we been able to say phyically we're better than another team," said Cleveland.
That isn't going to change Saturday when Wyoming hosts BYU. Wyoming is not only more talented, but it is coming off a shocking win over No. 5 Utah. BYU is 6-18 overall and 1-8 in conference play, while Wyoming is 16-6 and 6-4.
Cleveland spent early Friday going over film of the first BYU-Wyoming game, a 60-41 win at the Marriott Center. In that game the Cougars jumped ahead 20-6. Guard Danny Bower made all five three-point shots as the Cougars won their first conference game since the WAC's expansion. They shot 46 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range, both far above their season averages.
"Hey, we're playing a team we've actually beaten before," said Cleveland. "We just match up better with them."
He added, "It's the best game we've played all year. We had ball movement, everything. We were just in a zone."
Given their status with five games remaining, it stands to reason Cleveland is looking at different options. He is considering playing Ron Selleaze at off-guard, to be joined by Brian Dignan at the point, Mekeli Wesley and Justin Weidauer at forwards and Bart Jepsen at center. That would mark BYU's 11th different starting lineup. He has gone with Bower in the starting lineup for the past six games, but that might change. Cleve-land said if Bower is moved out of the starting lineup, it isn't because he hasn't played well. In fact, Bower and Ron Selleze have been the team's most consistent players.
"But if you lose seven or eight in a row, you can't just keep doing the same things," said Cleveland.
Whatever the lineup, the Cougars have to figure out how to make shots. BYU is shooting only 0.367 from the field and 0.291 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Wyoming is one of the country's best defenses, ranking second in field goal defense and fifth in scoring defense.
"It's a mental game," Cleveland added, after watching films of the first game against the Cowboys. "Our shots were going in, so we're 10 up as opposed to 10 down. We made shots because they missed theirs."
GAME NOTES: BYU holds an 83-63 all-time lead over the Cowboys . . . Wyoming swept the Cougars last year . . . Wyoming is 30-8 at home in the past three years.