Without a paddle

By By Cody Brunner and By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

The U men’s basketball team did everything it could to get a win in Laramie, Wyom., last night. But with star center Luke Nevill out with a hip pointer, the Utes couldn’t muster enough offensive firepower and fell, 86-78.

Utah jumped out to a 23-16 lead early on thanks to some nifty backdoor cuts and sharpshooting from Johnnie Bryant. It didn’t take the Cowboys too long to make the necessary adjustments and, as has been the trend recently, Utah went stagnant from the field.

The Utes (9-17, 4-9 MWC) failed to score a field goal for more than six minutes heading into halftime and the result was a 39-33 deficit.

The second half saw a new style of Ute basketball. Instead of standing around, the Utes were active and aggressive, coming up with steals and fastbreak layups at will. That feverish style of play led the Utes back and even gave them a 45-43 lead with 14 minutes left in the game.

But with only nine Utah players suiting up for the game due to various ailments and sicknesses, the Runnin’ Utes struggled to keep up with the fresh Cowboys.

After that initial Utah surge, Wyoming (15-12, 6-7 MWC) regained control of the tempo. Giving free rein of the offense to their potent one-two punch backcourt tandem, the Cowboys kept the Runnin’ Ute defense at bay with a plethora of jump shots and ankle-breaking drives.

As it has been the case throughout the year, the Cowboy duo of Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones proved to be the difference.

After being virtually nonexistent in the first half (two points), the versatile sophomore Ewing came alive in the second, scoring 26 points to spur his team on to the victory.

Jones, his partner in crime, chose to spread his points out evenly between the two periods. The reigning MWC Player of the Week, Jones led the team with 10 points in the first half and was practically the only Cowboy threat. The junior finished the game with 19 points and seven assists in the winning effort.

Despite the offensive swell from Jones and Ewing, the Utes only trailed by one (62-61) with just under six-and-a-half minutes left.

That’s when the game took a slightly familiar turn for Utah fans. It started off with a couple of Daniel Deane turnovers. Things got worse with a few silly foul calls. Merely 90 seconds later, Utah found itself down 73-64 and in a world of hurt.

All said and done, the Utes committed seven turnovers in those final minutes to finish with 17 giveaways.

In spite of the loss, Johnnie Bryant turned in an impressive performance, scoring 26 points to lead the Utes. Lawrence Borha came off the bench with his best offensive output of the year, putting up 13 points and seven assists in the losing effort.

The loss is the Utes’ third consecutive, having already lost to Air Force and UNLV last week, and drops them into a tie for seventh in the conference. Utah will try to get off the snide this Saturday when it plays host to New Mexico.

Tyler Cobb

Johnnie Bryant stutter-steps against a defender in the Utes’ Feb.17 loss to UNLV. Utah lost to Wyoming 86-78 last night in Wyoming.