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Longtime foes Wyoming, No. 12 BYU renew rivalry

longtime-foes-wyoming,-no.-12-byu-renew-rivalry

Former conference rivals will tangle for the first time since 2011 when No. 14 BYU hosts Wyoming on Saturday in Provo, Utah.

BYU (11-1) has won three straight home games in dominant fashion. The Cougars’ most recent triumph — a 101-59 victory over Bellarmine on Dec. 22 — saw them cross the 100-point plateau for the third time this season while holding an opponent under 60 points for the seventh time in 12 games. BYU has a plus-29.1 scoring margin through 12 games.

Efficient offense carried BYU against the Knights. Six different players scored in double figures and the Cougars shot 58 percent from the field while knocking down 16 3-pointers and generating 29 assists on 40 baskets.

Their offense stayed potent and efficient even with leading scorer Jaxson Robinson sitting out because of an ankle injury.

“There’s no hesitation to make plays for each other because they know it’s coming back to them,” BYU coach Mark Pope said.

Through 12 games, BYU leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and assists per game. Aly Khalifa tops Division I individually in assist-to-turnover ratio with 34 assists and only two turnovers for the Cougars.

For the Cougars, six players are scoring in double figures on the season. Robinson averages 18.0 points per game and 2.9 rebounds, and he also leads the team with 36 3-pointers. Spencer Johnson averages 11.5 points per game and adds 6.1 rebounds per game. Trevin Knell contributes 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds.

This will be the second Big 12 team Wyoming has played this season. The Cowboys (7-5) lost at Texas 86-63 in late November.

Wyoming is also facing a second straight former conference rival after losing to UTEP 78-67 in the championship game of the Sun Bowl Invitational. The Cowboys defeated South Dakota State to open the tournament but fell short against the Miners.

Wyoming came into the game leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage but connected on only 22.7 percent of its shots (5 of 22) from beyond the arc against UTEP. Mason Walters had a season-high 16 points to lead the Cowboys, and three other players scored in double figures. It wasn’t enough to overcome a UTEP team that shot 48 percent from the field and scored 22 points off turnovers.

“It will be a learning opportunity,” Wyoming coach Jeff Linder said. “We have done some good things in the preseason. Our guys fight and we were right there, but we couldn’t get over the hump.”

Sam Griffin leads Wyoming in scoring at 17.8 points per game and in assists with an average of 3.7 to go with 3.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range. Akuel Kot is adding 16.3 points per game and has 20 or more points in two of the past three games, including 22 against UTEP.

This will be the 175th all-time meeting between Wyoming and BYU, who were in the Western Athletic Conference and the Mountain West Conference together until the Cougars joined the West Coast Conference in 2011. BYU leads the series 105-69 and has won 13 straight games over the Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

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