As Wyoming enters its third week of conference play, it also starts a critical stretch.
The Cowboys (11-5 overall, 1-2 Mountain West) are coming off two road losses to UNLV and Fresno State, play their next two games at home this week. The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Utah State (8-7, 2-2). The second is at 4 p.m. Saturday against Nevada (14-3, 3-1). The Cowboys are 9-0 at home this season, and are one of three teams in the MW undefeated at home. Boise State and Nevada are both 7-0.
Do you consider Wednesday’s game a must-win for UW? First-year coach Allen Edwards doesn’t.
“It’s a big game, but as a staff we’re trying to get guys to understand every game is that way,” Edwards said. “We want to protect our home floor, but we also know if we want to compete for a championship we have to take some on the road.
“However, I never try to put pressure on guys that we need this particular game. We play our game, and at the end of the day we believe our game will put us in position to win. The spirit of our guys has not changed. They’re still confident, but they also know that it doesn’t matter who you play. They better be ready to play every night.”
Last Saturday’s games in the MW proved that. Fresno State lost 69-62 at San Jose State. Nevada came back from a 25-point deficit in the second half, including being down 14 with just over a minute to play, to win at New Mexico 105-104 in overtime.
“There’s no pressure at all,” said UW sophomore guard and leading scorer Justin James on feeling more pressure to get back in the win column this week. “We want to win every game. We want to be the best we can be, and as long as we keep sticking to our plan, stay focused and share the ball we will be all right.”
See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for my advance story on the UW-Utah State game. Edwards told me he is looking for a “hero” late in games, but it isn’t what you might be thinking about.
That story also will be online at wyosports.net, along with a Q&A with Utah State men’s basketball beat writer Shawn Harrison of The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah.