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Wyoming improves NCAA chances with UNLV win

Feb 7, 2012 - AP

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) -- The tangible meanings were obvious.

When Wyoming stifled No. 11 UNLV on its final possession, the Cowboys secured their first victory against a ranked team in nearly 12 years and put a statement victory on their postseason resume.

Beyond that, UW coach Larry Shyatt acknowledged that the true meaning won't be decided for a few weeks, but that he and his team were simply going to enjoy the victory for an extra day or two with no mid-week game ahead of them.

"I (told the team), 'None of these guys out here that I'm going to talk to, they have no idea how this book's going to end,'" Shyatt said. "I don't know how this book's going to end. No one in this locker room knows.

"It's something great to talk about, hopefully, this spring."

Saturday's 68-66 victory, however, will now also spark more legitimate discussions about the Pokes' postseason possibilities.

Through the first half of conference play, they're 18-5 with a 4-3 mark in conference play. A weak nonconference schedule had tempered such postseason discussions, but UNLV ranks in the top 10 in the Ratings Percentage Index, giving UW a signature victory.

In an email Saturday, college basketball ratings expert Ken Pomeroy said the Pokes helped their chances but have work left to do.

"I suspect they might appear in somebody's bracket this week, but they're probably still pretty shaky," Pomeroy said. "I'm thinking they'll have to win six more games counting the tournament to get a bid. Because of the ultra-weak non-conference schedule, they probably need to split the remaining road games."

That will be no easy task with trips to New Mexico, San Diego State, Colorado State and UNLV still on the slate.

The Pokes certainly need to take care of their home games against Air Force, TCU and Boise State.

They moved up to 68th in the RPI following Saturday's victory, according to CBSSports.com.

"They're in good shape for the NIT," Pomeroy said. "Although, once you consider the 7 or 8 auto-bids to the NIT, the Cowboys could still play their way out of that. Finishing .500 in the MW should be good enough to get in."

The fact that the Pokes can even discuss the postseason at this stage is a story in itself.

They finished 10-21 in each of the past two seasons, lost starters Desmar Jackson and Amath M'Baye to transfer in the offseason, and how the group would jell under first-year coach Larry Shyatt was a mystery entering the season.

It's no longer a secret.

"It means a lot to me to (be able to beat UNLV) with guys like ... everybody on this team," UW senior point guard JayDee Luster said. "We've got good people on this team, and good things happen to good people. I really believe that, and it feels good to finally have some success."

They've remained humble through it -- both in victory and defeat.

Now they'll be tested once again, coming off the program's biggest victory in more than a decade.

"We have to diminish this when we're finished enjoying it in a day or two, because we've got to go back to work," Shyatt said. "We can't be satisfied and they never have been satisfied."

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