Wyoming Throwback: 1987 Cowboys Make The Sweet 16
Just in time for the NCAA Sweet 16, here's a look back at the last time Wyoming advanced to the third round of March Madness.
The year was 1987 and the Pokes were led by future NBA players Fennis Dembo, who averaged 20.6 points and 8.3 rebounds as a junior, and junior center Erik Leckner, who averaged 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
After suffering close non-conference losses to Nebraska and Louisville, the Cowboys reeled off ten straight wins in the Western Athletic Conference. Heading into the final week, Wyoming had a chance to win the WAC. Then the wheels fell off and the Cowboys lost their last three regular-season games, limping into the conference tournament with a record of 18-9.
One of the most thrilling postseasons in school history began with a 56-54 win over Utah in the opening round. Wyoming won another nail-biter in round two, defeating Texas-El Paso 77-74 to advance to the WAC Championship. The Pokes faced a tall task in the tournament final, upsetting New Mexico at The Pit in Albuquerque 64-62 to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The March Madness had just begun for coach Jim Brandenburg and the cardiac Cowboys. Seeded 12th in the West Region, they edged #5 seed Virginia 64-60 to make the round of 32. Then the Pokes pulled off another epic upset, beating #4 seed UCLA 78-68 behind a career-high 40 points and 9 rebounds from Dembo.
Unfortunately, Wyoming's Cinderella story came to an end one week later at the Kingdome in Seattle, when they met #1 seed UNLV. The Running Rebels ran past the Pokes 92-78 before beating Iowa to clinch Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian's first Final Four appearance.
32 years later, the Cowboys unlikely run marks the last time Wyoming made the Sweet 16.