Bouncing back

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Following an impressive upset of No. 11 Air Force, the U men’s basketball team (6-12, 1-4 MWC) will try to keep the ball rolling tomorrow afternoon when they host Wyoming (11-7, 2-2) at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes controlled the tempo of the their latest game from the beginning, holding the sharp-shooting Falcons to merely 23 percent from behind the three-point line in the first half.

Air Force responded to the Utes’ stalwart defense in the second half, hitting for 56.7 percent from the field and mounting multiple comebacks. But the Utes weren’t to be denied. Every time the Falcons would get to within five, Utah would hit a clutch three-pointer to regain control.

“That was a great win for us,” U guard Chris Grant said. “That wasn’t a monkey. That was a 600-pound gorilla lifted off our back with that win.”

Grant is referring to the six-game losing streak the Utes were suffering before the shocking defeat of the Falcons.

Perhaps what is most impressive about the upset is the fact that the Utes were still able to win after finishing the game with 19 turnovers.

“We struggled at times, but we played through those turnovers and didn’t let them get us into a funk,” Grant said. “After that many close games, to break through the barrier is huge.”

The Utes will try to continue their upset streak tomorrow when they play host to Wyoming at 1 p.m.

The Cowboys started off the season on fire, winning seven of their first eight games, but have since leveled off in conference play.

Most recently, the team was tied with BYU at 45 with 15:16 left in the second half, but a dry spell from the field all but eliminated the Cowboys from the contest. The Cougars strung together 17 consecutive points during that period and finished the game with an 89-81 victory.

Wyoming’s talented backcourt tandem of Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones gave the Cougars all they could handle for forty minutes, scoring 22 and 13, respectively.

Both Ewing and Jones have done considerable damage from the perimeter this season–an area that has not been particularly kind to the Utes, with the exception of the Air Force victory.

The ever-nimble Ewing leads the Cowboys from his guard position, averaging 21.2 points and 4.1 assists per game. On the other side, Jones has been lighting teams up to the tune of 16.0 points per game.

“Both Ewing and Jones are very athletic and quick,” said U coach Giacoletti. “Ewing can shoot from just about anywhere and Jones loves to take it to the basket, so we have our hands full with those two.”

Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ low post play has been buoyed by the performances of Daaron Brown as of late. The 6-foot-9 senior led the team against BYU, scoring 22 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds in the losing effort.

With Brown as the tallest active player on the Wyoming roster, the Utes will surely try to exploit their size advantage once again.

“We have to establish Luke (Nevill) every single night,” Giacoletti said. ” He got started off early against Air Force the other night and it opened up a lot of shots for us.”