2000-01 SEASON SUMMARY - The Cougars continued to improve in Steve Cleveland's fourth year in Provo in 2000-01. BYU finished 24-9 while earning its first conference tournament title since 1992, its first regular season championship since 1993 and its first NCAA bid since 1995. The Cougars went 10-4 in Mountain West Conference play to earn a three-way share of the title with Utah and Wyoming. BYU won the MWC Tournament and earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with wins over Air Force, Wyoming and New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. BYU, the 12th seed, lost its first round NCAA game at Cox Arena in San Diego to No. 5-seed Cincinnati. Mekeli Wesley was the MWC Player of the Year and guards Terrell Lyday and Trent Whiting were named to the MWC First and Second Team respectively. As a team, BYU led the nation in free throw shooting (.780) and had the nation's best single-game field goal percentage, making 70.8 percent vs. Elon College. The Cougars' free throw percentage ranks second all-time at BYU. The team also tied a BYU record for three-pointers in a game (13 vs. San Diego State).
MARCHING IN MARCH - BYU has come on strong late in each season under coach Steve Cleveland. BYU has a 12-5 record in March in Cleveland's four years. BYU was 11-3 in the past two seasons, including a 5-1 record last March. The Cougars won all five games in March on the road. With the MWC regular season title on the line, BYU swept New Mexico and Air Force on the road before winning three straight in Las Vegas to win the MWC Touranemnt.
WESLEY CARRIES COUGARS TO TITLE - Mekeli Wesley recorded back-to-back 25 point games and averaged six rebounds while leading BYU to a sweep of its road trip over New Mexico and Air Force to gain a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title. He shot 57.1 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line in the two victories. Wesley had 25 points and eight rebounds at New Mexico, going 6-11 from the floor, 1-5 on threes and 12-16 from the line. He had 25 points and four rebounds at Air Force, making 6-10 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc, and 12-14 from the line.
WINS - BYU finished 24-9 last year, the most wins of any MWC team. Only five BYU teams have ever had more wins. The Cougars also had the fewest losses for a BYU team since 1993, when BYU finished 25-9. BYU has surpassed the 20-win mark the past two seasons with 24-9 and 22-11 campaigns. The last time BYU had posted back-to-back 20-win seasons was the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons with identical 22-10 records.
WINNING MARGINS - The Cougars' 10 MWC wins last year were by a margin of 14 points while their four conference losses were by an average of 7.7 points. BYU held double-digit leads in two of those losses, at Wyoming and at UNLV, and trailed by a single point with 30 seconds remaining at Colorado State. BYU defeated its conference co-champions Utah and Wyoming by an average of 12 points per game while its two losses were both seven-point defeats on the road.
WINNING AT HOME - The Cougars had a perfect 15-0 record at home last year. BYU enters this season with a 20-game home winning streak - 6th best in the nation. The 15-0 home record was the second most home wins in a season in school history and only the fifth time a Cougar team has gone unbeaten at home and the first time since 1995 - the last year BYU had earned an NCAA Tournament berth. BYU's last home loss was to New Mexico (78-74) on Feb. 17, 2000. The Roger Reid 1989-90 team also went a perfect 15-0 at home. Other unbeaten teams include the Stan Watts coached 1971-72 team (12-0), Frank Arnold's 1978-79 (14-0) and 1980-81 (13-0) teams and Reid's 1994-95 (14-0) squad. With its 15th home win last year, BYU improved upon its 14-2 home record (including two NIT victories) in 1999-2000 to become only the third Cougar team to win more than 14 home games in a season. In addition to the 15-0 1989-90 team, the 1987-88 Ladell Andersen squad won a BYU record 16 games with two losses in the Marriott Center.
FAN SUPPORT - Fan support in the Marriott Center has improved each year under Steve Cleveland. BYU averaged 15,608 in its seven conference home contests last year, compared to 13,464 and 11,562 the prior two seasons. The top crowd last season was 19,098 in BYU's win over rival Utah on ESPN. Overall average attendance has grown from 8,430 in Cleveland's first season to 11,452 last year.
NATION'S BEST - BYU was the nation's top free throw shooting team last year, making 78 percent from the line. The Cougars also had the nation's top team single-game field goal percentage, making 70.8 percent in the season opener against Elon College. On the year, BYU shot 45.9 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from three-point range.
WESLEY ALL-AMERICAN - Mekeli Wesley earned honorable mention AP All-America honors . Prior to Wesley, BYU's Shawn Bradley was the last player recognized by an All-America-selecting organization , being named to the Basketball Times Freshman Team. Michael Smith was the last Cougar awarded an All-America honor by AP, earning third-team recognition in 1988.
WESLEY NAMED MWC SEASON AND TOURNEY MVP - Mekeli Wesley, the regular season MWC Player of the Year, earned MVP honors at the MWC Tournament, averaging 22 points and six rebounds in BYU's three wins while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor, 62.5 percent (5-8) on threes, and 81 percent (17-21) from the line. He totaled a season-high 30 points in the title game.
WESLEY, LYDAY NAMED ALL-DISTRICT - Mekeli Wesley was named to the first team and Terrell Lyday the second team of the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 13 teams Friday. Wesley earned the award for the second straight year. Other MWC players named to the teams included Wyoming's Josh Davis (1st) and Marcus Bailey (2nd). Weber State's Jermain Boyette and Southern Utah's Fred House also earned second team honors.
LYDAY EARNS ALL-TOURNEY ACCOLADES - Joining Wesley on the All-MWC Tournament Team, Lyday scored a season-high 32 points in the semifinal win over Wyoming to get BYU into the title clash. Lyday averaged a team-best 22.7 points in the three wins while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, including 75 percent (9-12) from three-point range, and 95 percent (19-20) from the line.
RARE ROAD SWEEP - With its wins at New Mexico and Air Force, BYU swept a two-game conference road trip for the first time since defeating San Diego State and Hawaii in January of 1999 as a member of the WAC. Last year BYU defeated San Diego State and UNLV on the road but during separate one-game trips. The Cougars lost at Air Force and New Mexico last season on the road. Wyoming was the only other MWC team to sweep the New Mexico-Air Force trip this season.
TIMELY TURNAROUND - Four years after a 1-25 season and a 0-16 conference record, BYU earned the title of conference champions. Steve Cleveland's Cougar team won a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title after finishing sixth last year. With its 10-4 conference record, BYU finished in a three-way tie for first place with Wyoming and Utah. The Cougars last won the conference crown in 1993, when BYU finished 15-1 to win the WAC title. BYU entered the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas as the No. 2 seed, with Utah earning the top seed in the tiebreaker and Wyoming being seeded third. BYU went on to win the tournament title, its first conference title since winning the WAC tournament in 1992. BYU has played in the MWC tournament title games both seasons.