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UW prepares for third Border War matchup

Cowboys game day

Game: Wyoming (7-23) vs. Colorado State (20-11)

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas

Watch: Mountain West Network

Radio: KCGY (95.1 FM) Laramie; KFBC (97.5 FM, 1240 AM) Cheyenne

By Michael Katz


LAS VEGAS – For better or worse, conference tournament time in college basketball is a chance for fresh starts. Everyone is undefeated, yet simultaneously winless, regardless of how the preceding 30 regular season games went.

For the University of Wyoming men's basketball team, today is a chance to rewrite what has been a largely painful season.

The Cowboys (7-23 overall) enter the Mountain West Tournament as the No. 11 seed and face archrival Colorado State, the six seed, tonight at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center. UW was swept by the Rams this season, losing 72-61 in Fort Collins, Colorado, before falling at home in a mid-February game the Cowboys led by 19 points during the second half.

With uncertainty swirling around the program, Cowboys coach Allen Edwards took a page out of UW women's coach Gerald Mattinson's book. Following the Cowgirls' win over Utah State in the women's tournament quarterfinals Tuesday night, Mattinson was clear that previous games against semifinal opponent Boise State mean nothing come March.

Edwards is of the same mindset.

"This time of year, you throw a lot of that stuff out the window," Edwards said. "You're only promised one more game."

The loss in Laramie to the Rams a few weeks ago was a shocker, but Edwards said he took some positives out of it. Namely, that his team was leading and in position to win a huge game. Edwards also said he isn't worried about the Cowboys' collapse staying in the back of his players' heads. If they were to win tonight in the third Border War of the season, the Cowboys would play No. 3-seeded Nevada on Thursday.

"I don't look at it as a challenge (playing CSU a third time)," Edwards said. "We were able to get up by doing the things that we talked about from the scouting report. ... It was unfamiliar territory to have that kind of lead."

Colorado State (20-11) is one of the hotter teams in the Mountain West since the start of 2020, compiling an 11-5 record since New Year's. The Rams feature a balanced offense with four players averaging at least 10 points per game, led by Isaiah Stevens, who was named the Mountain West freshman of the year by both the coaches and media earlier this week. San Diego State guard Malachi Flynn was named the conference's player of the year by both the media and coaches.

UW's Hunter Maldonado also earned All-Mountain West honors; the redshirt sophomore guard was named third team all-conference by the media and was an honorable mention selection by the league's coaches. Maldonado leads the Cowboys in points (16.4), rebounds (5.6) and assists (4) per game.

"I would say (his placement is) about right ... I do believe we do have a lot of individual talents in this league ... it shows how important he is to the program, as well," Edwards said. "Even in the midst of fighting night in and night out, he's done a really good job of staying consistent, and he's a good kid."

Michael Katz covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at [email protected] or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @michaellkatz.

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