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Denver 63, Wyoming 62

1/7/2004

DENVER (AP) -- It was a bit like deja vu.

Just three days after upsetting Dayton 61-59 in a last-minute
thriller at the Arena Auditorium, Wyoming found itself in another
close game Tuesday night at Denver.

This one didn't swing in the Cowboys' favor.

Zeljko Zupic scored a three-pointer and Rodney Billups and Erik
Benzel made five free throws in the waning seconds as Denver
rallied to upset the Cowboys 63-62.

Wyoming (7-5) is 0-3 on the road this season. The Pokes remain
on the road this week, traveling to Middle Tennessee State on
Thursday for a game in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Tip-off is slated for 7
p.m. MST.

Wyoming coach Steve McClain gave credit to Denver for playing
tough, but said the game ultimately came down to two statistics --
free throws and rebounds.

The Cowboys, he said, failed to come out on top in either.

"You gotta make free throws on the road," McClain said. "If
you make free throws you win the game."

Zupic finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in the 137th
meeting between the teams.

Billups finished with 13 points and six assists, Brett Starkey
scored 10 with a game-high 14 rebounds for his third double-double
of the season, and Carvell McAlister scored 12 for Denver (8-4).

Wyoming (7-5) was led by guard Jay Straight's 17 points, plus 16
points and nine rebounds by Mory Correa.

Denver led 55-53 with 2:27 remaining after McAlister sank a foul
shot. With 1:43 left, Correa missed two foul shots and Denver
answered with a three-pointer by Zupic with one second left on the
35-second shot clock.

Straight cut the lead to 58-55 with two free throws with 52
seconds remaining. Then, with 38 seconds to go, Wyoming
intentionally fouled Billups and he sank both.

Following a tremendous dunk by Correa off Straight's feed,
Billups sank one of two foul shots and Straight responded with a
quick driving lay-up against a weak defense to draw within 61-59
with 21.3 seconds left.

Benzel's free throws pushed Denver's lead to 63-59, and Wyoming
made a three-pointer at the buzzer that left the Cowboys one point
short.

Wyoming led 32-26 at halftime as both teams were forced to sit
foul-prone post players. Denver backup center Yemi Nicholson
eventually fouled out with 4:15 remaining after nine minutes of
floor time.

The Cowboys don't have much time to recover. They head to Middle
Tennessee State on Thursday for the teams' second matchup this
season.

Wyoming beat Middle Tennessee 84-63 off Joe Ries' career-high 29
points in November.

"We (aren't) going to be able to live this one very long,"
McClain said. "We're going to have to get over it and play
again."