After advancing to the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament and earning a 20-10 record, BYU has received an invitation to the NIT Tournament -- its first post-season tournament since 1995. The Cougars host Bowling Green, 22-7, of the Mid-American Conference Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant calling the action. The game is not being televised.
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to face the winner of Southern Illinois and Colorado next Monday or Tuesday at a site to be determined.
BYU in the NIT
The Cougars have a 9-5 NIT record in seven previous appearances and have two NIT titles to their credit (1951 and 1966). BYU last played in the NIT in 1994, defeating Arizona State (74-67) in the first round at home before falling to Fresno State (68-66) on the road. Prior to this year's bid, BYU had participated in the NIT in 1951, 1953, 1954, 1966, 1982, 1986 and 1994.
NIT First Round
BYU (20-10) vs. Bowling Green (22-7)
Wednesday, March 15 Â• Marriott Center (22,700)Â• Provo, Utah Â• 7 p.m. Mountain
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 42 Nathan Cooper 6-5 210 Jr. 5.7 3.3
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-8 210 So. 5.5 4.1
F 15 Mekeli Wesley 6-9 230 Jr. 17.2 5.8
G 24 Terrell Lyday 6-3 190 Jr. 17.4 4.1
G 13 Michael Vranes 6-3 190 So. 7.5 4.0
Bowling Green's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 21 Dave Esterkamp 6-7 220 Sr. 13.0 4.8
F 34 Anthony Stacey 6-4 235 Sr. 17.0 5.9
C 14 Len Matela 6-9 220 So. 12.7 7.7
G 10 Trent Jackson 6-4 205 Jr. 8.8 3.3 G 32 Brandon Pardon 6-1 185 So. 6.9 5.6 apg
BYU Coach: Steve Cleveland
Record at BYU: 41-47 (3rd year)
Overall Div. I record: Same
Bowling Green Coach: Dan Dakich
Record at BGSU: 50-33 (3rd year)
Overall record: Same
Series Record: BYU 2-1
Game Time: 7:05 p.m. Mountain
Network: Cougar Sports Network
Station: KSL Newsradio 1160 AM
Air Time: 6:30 p.m. Mountain
Play-by-play: Greg Wrubell
Analyst: Mark Durrant
Scouting Bowling Green
Bowling Green State University has a 22-7 record and won the MAC regular season title with a 14-4 record. The Falcons, who won their second conference title in the last four years, have won six of their last seven games and were one of several teams that many thought would gain an NCAA berth but were not selected to the field of 64. Bowling Green finished the season with a perfect 12-0 record at home and an 8-6 record on the road. The Falcons were 2-1 on a neutral floor and had an 8-3 non-conference record. Bowling Green's seven losses came at Northern Iowa (83-75 in OT), at West Virginia (100-54), at Western Michigan (91-82), at Kent (82-64), at Ball State (71-61), at Toledo (79-68) and vs. Miami of Ohio at the conference tournament (58-56 in OT). The Falcons are coming off the Miami of Ohio loss and have not played since March 5. Bowling Green has lost back-to-back games only once this season (Northern Iowa and West Virginia). This will be the Falcons' 12th appearance in the NIT, and the team's first in three years. BGSU has an all-time record of 6-11 in the tournament, with a championship-game appearance in 1945 and a trip to the semifinals in 1949. BGSU's last NIT game was a 1997 loss at West Virginia, 98-95. BGSU head coach Dan Dakich is in his third season after taking over the program on April 21, 1997. His teams have shown steady improvement each season. The Falcons posted a 10-16 overall mark and a 7-11 record in MAC play his first season before rebounding last year to finish 18-10 overall and 12-6 in loop action. Dakich spent 16 years at Indiana, the first four as a player for the Hoosiers, and the last 12 as an assistant coach under Bob Knight, before taking the job at Bowling Green, his first head coaching position. His teams have compiled a 50-33 record at Bowling Green. Senior Anthony Stacey is the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and was selected to the All-MAC First Team, while senior Dave Esterkamp and sophomore Len Matela earned honorable mention. Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich was second in the league's coach-of-the-year voting. Stacey, a 6-4 forward who averages 17 points and six rebounds per game, is Bowling Green's all-time BG scoring leader ( 1,927 points) and is also the career steals leader with 225 thefts. He ranks seventh in with 752 career rebounds. Four Falcons score in double figures and the team averages 75.8 points per contest. As a team, Bowling Green also ranks third in the country in field-goal percentage in the latest NCAA statistics released March 8. The Falcons were shooting .498 from the field. The Falcons also are among the national leaders in free-throw percentage, shooting .744 to rank 17th in the country. BGSU has shot .500 or better from the field in 15 games this season, and over .600 in five of those contests. One of the Falcons non conference wins was over BYU's former WAC foe, Hawaii (53-49 in Honolulu).
This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools. The two schools have not played since 1956. BYU leads the series 2-1 after winning back-to-back games in Provo during the 1956-57 season. BYU won 73-56 the first night and then 78-69 the next. The Falcons won the first meeting in 1949, a 75-50 win at Bowling Green.
BYU MWC Tournament Notables
Â• Terrell Lyday averaged 19 points and five rebounds and was named to the Mountain West Conference All-Tournament Team. Mekeli Wesley scored 12 ppg and added 5.3 rebounds.
Â• Eric Nielsen is playing his best ball of the season. The returned missionary from Russia, has not only had the season to get his legs back but he has had to step up and assume a greater offensive role with the recent loss of Silester Rivers to knee surgery. Nielsen averaging 9.0 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds last week, including 12.5 points and 10 rebounds in the two tournament victories. Against New Mexico, he pulled down a career-best 11 rebounds while scoring eight points. Versus Utah, Nielsen scored a game-high 17 points to best his previous career best of 15 during his freshman season before his mission. He also added a team-high nine rebounds in the victory over rival Utah. His 13 shots against Utah was a season high (8 was previous high versus Denver).
Â• BYU made its first appearance in a conference tournament championship game since 1994 when they fell to Hawaii, 73-66. The last time the Cougars won a league tournament crown was in 1992 when they defeated UTEP, 73-71, on a three-quarter court buzzer-beater by Kevin Nixon.
Â• The Cougars have a 14-14 record in conference tournament games, which includes a 2-1 Mountain West tournament record and a 12-13 record in WAC tournament games. BYU's win over New Mexico Thursday marks the second straight year the Cougars have upset their opening round opponent.Last year BYU upset TCU in its first-round game, 90-74.
Â• The starting lineup of Michael Vranes, Terrell Lyday, Nathan Cooper, Eric Nielsen and Mekeli Wesley has started the last four games and is now 3-1 as a group. Nathan Cooper has started the last four games, his only starts of the season, and BYU is 4-1 in those games. BYU coach Cleveland has used seven different lineups this season.
Â• BYU has vastly improved under Head Coach Steve Cleveland. Since taking over a 1-25 program three years ago, Cleveland has guided BYU to 9-21 and 12-16 seasons in his first two years and 20-9 this year. Last year, BYU improved its home record from 4-10 to 9-5 and won its first WAC Tournament contest since 1994, upsetting heavily favored TCU 90-74. This year Cleveland's team finished 12-2 at home and has advanced to the MWC tournament finals. BYU has not had a 20-win season since 1994-95 when they finished 22-10. It was also the last year BYU qualified for a post-season tournament (NCAA).
Â• During this year's early signing period, Coach Cleveland received NCAA Letters-of-Intent from five players who make up one of the best recruiting classes to ever commit to play basketball at BYU. Signing were Jesse Pinegar, 6-9 and the No. 1-rated center in the West; Derek Dawes, 6-11 and the No. 3-rated center in the West; Jacob Chrisman, a 6-9 forward; Travis Hansen, a 6-6 transfer from Utah Valley State College; and Austin Ainge, a 6-1 point guard and son of BYU and NBA great Danny Ainge.
BYU Tops MWC in RPI
According to CollegeRPI.com rankings computed by Jerry Palm and the
Collegiate Basketball News, BYU is the highest rated team in the MWC with a ranking of 46 and 45 respectively. According to CBN, BYU also has the toughest schedule at No. 44.
BYU's record when . . .
BYU leads at half 17-1
Opponent leads at half 2-8
Score tied at half 1-1
BYU leads with 5 minutes left 19-1
Opponent leads with 5 min. left 0-9
BYU leads with 1 minute left 19-0
Opponent leads with 1 min. left 1-10
Score tied with 1 minute left 0-0
Game goes into overtime 1-0
BYU out rebounds opponent 13-0
Opponent out rebounds BYU 7-10
BYU and opponent tie in rebounds 0-0
BYU shoots 50 % or better 11-0
Opponent shoots 50 % or better 0-6
BYU out shoots opponent 19-1
Opponent out shoots BYU 1-9
In BYU's seven conference losses this year, the Cougars shot 40 percent from the floor in three games, 41 percent in three and 38 percent in one. In BYU's seven conference wins, the Cougars shot 42, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54 and 61percent from the floor. BYU out shot its opponents in both games this week (19-1 in those games and 1-8 when they don't out shoot the opponent). BYU shot a season-best 61.2 percent vs. AFA last week at home. The Cougars are 11-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better.
BYU had a four-game winning streak come to an end Saturday. This year the Cougars have had two five-game winning streaks. BYU has had three two-game losing streaks this year, all in conference play, but has not lost three straight games this year. Last year BYU had two three-game losing streaks and one four-game skid. BYU is 2-0 on a neutral floor. BYU had a four-game road winning streak earlier this year, which was the longest road win streak since 1992-93, when the Cougars won six straight road games.
Assist vs. Turnover Trends
BYU has 12 assists and 13 turnovers (11 in first half) at UNLV. BYU had a season-low six turnovers vs. Utah and 7 assists (fourth time with single-digit assists). It marked the first back-to-back turnover games for BYU this year (and fourth of the year) after BYU had 11 assists and 8 turnovers vs. UNM. BYU had 14 assists and 17 turnovers vs. SDSU and 16 assists and 12 turnovers vs. AFA. In the previous two games BYU had a season-low six assists at CSU and only nine assists at Wyoming, its third lowest total of the year. BYU surpassed 20 assists in a game for the fourth time this year (all wins) with 21 assists in its previous home game vs. UNLV. It is the only time the Cougars did so in conference play. The other 20-plus assist games came at Denver (21), vs. Texas Southern (20) and vs. South Carolina State (23). Against MWC opponents, BYU has had more assists than turnovers in seven of 17 games. On the year, BYU averages 13.9 assists and 13.6 turnovers. (Last year BYU averaged 17.3 turnovers per game to only 12.8 assists). In conference play, BYU averaged 12.9 assists and 14.6 turnovers in 14 games. BYU has had 15 games this year where it has had more assists than turnovers, one game when assists equaled turnovers and 14 games when it has had more turnovers than assists.
BYU was 3-12 at UNLV, 3-13 vs. Utah and 4-13 vs. UNM. BYU shot 50 percent (4-8) on threes vs. AFA (7-18 vs. SDSU). BYU has shot 50 percent or better nine times this year. The Cougars are 8-1 when they shoot 50 percent or better on three-point attempts (lost at S.Alabama despite hitting season high 61.5 percent on threes). BYU made nine threes, two off its high for the season, while attempting a season-high 23 treys at Wyoming. BYU has made nine or more threes three previous times this season -- all in road wins (11 at FIU, 9 at Utah State and 10 at UNLV). Since entering its first game with CSU when BYU was third in the nation in three-point shooting at 42 percent, BYU went 55-168 (.327) on threes in the next 11 games to finish the regular season and fall to 38.3 percent. BYU went 5-6 record in those games. In those 11 games, Terrell Lyday shot 17-52 (.327) on threes, Michael Vranes 9-29 (.310), Mekeli Wesley 7-24 (.292),Nathan Cooper 6-16 (.375) and Todd Christensen 13-34 (.382).
Lyday From Behind the Arc
Lyday set a BYU record streak for consecutive games with a three-pointer at 21 this year (first 21 games). The prior consecutive games record was 16 set by Andy Toolson in 1990. He was 1-3 vs. UNLV and has made a three in 28 of BYU's 30 games this year. Lyday was 0-3 vs. Utah, made 2-5 vs. UNM and made three treys last Saturday vs. San Diego State-- the seventh time he has made three or more treys in a game this year, but the first time in the last 10 games. He has 17 games this year with two or more threes in a game.
More BYU's Record When ...
BYU is 2-1 in games decided by two points or less; 1-2 in 3-5-point games; 4-2 in 6-9-point games; and 13-5 in double-digit margins. Mekeli Wesley has either shared or been BYU's top scorer in 16 games this season and the Cougars are 9-7 in those games. He has also been BYU's top rebounder in 14 games. BYU is 9-5 in those games. BYU is 5-5 in the games when Mekeli Wesley was both the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Terrell Lyday has shared or led BYU in scoring in 12 games and BYU is 8-4 in those contests. When the Cougars get good scoring efforts from its supporting cast, they have been hard to beat. BYU is 8-1 when Michael Vranes has scored in double figures and 7-1 when Christensen scores in double digits. They were 6-1 (all but at UNM) when Rivers reaches double figures, and are 5-1 (all but at AFA) when Eric Nielsen had double digits and 5-2 when Cooper (except UNM and at Utah) has scored 10 or more.
Wesley Moves Up Scoring Ladder
Mekeli Wesley, who now has 1,132 career points, moved into 22th place on BYU's career scoring list. He needs 12 points to pass Doug Howard (1,143 points, 1968-70), 19 to overtake Elwood Romney (1,150 points, 1930-33), and 25 to surpass Kari Limo (1,156 points, 1967-69). He most recently passed Steve Schreiner (1,128 points, 1989-91). Wesley is only the 32nd player in BYU history to reach 1,000 points and only the eighth to do so as a junior (even though he missed part of sophomore season). Danny Ainge (1978-81) tops the career list at 2,467 points. Other players to reach 1,000 points before the end of their junior years were Ainge, Michael Smith, Devin Durrant, Russell Larson, Fred and Ken Roberts and Jeff Chatman.
BYU's defense has been a large part of the Cougars success this year as is evident by BYU's two tournament wins last week when BYU held its opponents to 29 percent shooting, including 20 percent on threes. BYU held Utah to its season low in FG percentage (30.9) and FGs made (17). Only six teams have shot 50 percent or better against BYU. UNLV shot 52 percent, Wyoming shot 51 percent; CSU 58.5; UNM 51; and Utah 56 percent. Arizona is the other team at 54 percent. In BYU's four other losses, S. Alabama shot .490, UNM .452, Utah .429 and AFA .392. The Cougars ranked first in the MWC in both field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense. They have held opponents below a 40 percent shooting in 17 games. BYU is 16-1 in those games (exception - at Air Force). BYU holds opponents to 64.4 points. Individually BYU has had outstanding defensive efforts, including Michael Vranes containing Lamont Long last week and Terrell Lyday helping hold Eddie House of Arizona State to a 0-16 night -- the only time House has gone without a field goal in his career.
BYU has scored more than 80 points in a six games and averages 69.8 points. BYU has shot better than 50 percent in 11 games (all wins). BYU made a season-best 61.2 percent of its attempts vs. AFA during its last homestand. With their loss at UNLV, the Cougars have shot below 40 percent five times -- 39.6 at UNLV, 38.1 at CSU, 36.5 percent in a loss at NCAA No. 1-seed Arizona, a season-low 29.6 in a win at UCSB and 29.6 percent at AFA. The Cougars are shooting 45.8 percent (37.6 on threes and 69.9 percent from the line. BYU is 11-0 when it shots 50 percent or better and 19-1 when it out shoots its opponent (except at AFA). Eric Nielsen makes 55 percent to lead BYU. Mekeli Wesley makes 47.3 percent while Todd Christensen (47.0) and Terrell Lyday (46.0) have the best percentages from the back court. Cooper makes a team-best 77.6 percent from the line.
BYU Starting Lineups
UCR Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
SUU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Ariz. Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Den. Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
ASU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
TSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
WSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
SCSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
USA Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
FIU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
UCSB Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
UCI Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
USU Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
UNLV Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Utah Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
Wyo Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
CSU Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
AFA Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
UNM Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
SDSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Utah Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
UNM Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
UNLV Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
CSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Wyo Vranes, Lyday, Roberts, Nielsen, Wesley
AFA Vranes, Christensen, Lyday, Cooper, Wesley
SDSU Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
UNM Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
Utah Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
UNLV Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
Starting Lineup Record (total)
Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley 10-5 (15)
Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley 2-1 (3)
Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley 4-1 (5)
Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley 0-1 (1)
Vranes, Lyday, Roberts, Nielsen, Wesley 0-1 (1)
Vranes, Christensen, Lyday, Cooper, Wesley 1-0 (1)
Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley 3-1 (4)
Mekeli Wesley Â• 17.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg Â• (17.4, 5.4 MWC Games)
Wesley is BYU's top rebounder and has been BYU's leading scorer all year until Lyday took a slight statistical edge after Friday's game when Mekeli scored a season-low seven points vs. Utah. He has been BYU's top scorer in 16 games this season and has scored in double figures in 27 of BYU's 30 games. He had a string of 18 straight ended last Friday. He has 11 games with 20 or more points and one game with more than 30. In the MWC tournament, he had 10 pts, 6rbs vs. UNM and 7 pts, 4 rbs vs. Utah and 19 pts, 6 rbs vs. UNLV. He had 15 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assts, 2 blks, 1 steal vs. SDSU Saturday. He had a game-high 18 pts, including 14 in the first half, and a team-high 7 rbs vs. AFA. He scored a game-high 25 pts, and 4 rbs, team-best 3 assts, and 2 steals at Wyoming. He was 2-9 for 11 pts and only 2 rbs at CSU Thursday. Despite playing on a sprained ankle last week, he scored a team-high 22 vs. UNLV along with a career-best 6 assists. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. He had 16 points in 30 minutes vs. UNM. When he scored his 11th point at UNM he became the 32nd BYU player to reach 1,000 career points and only the eighth to do so as a junior. He tied Terrell Lyday with a game-high 14 points at Utah and had a team-best 6 rebounds. He hit two treys to help BYU take an early 18-9 lead. He recorded game highs with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead BYU to a 72-50 road win at San Diego State Thursday. After two bad shooting nights at AFA and UNM, Wesley responded by hitting 6-11 shots, including 1-2 three-pointers, to help the Cougars break its first two-game losing skid of the season. He added two steals and a block and assist in 25 minutes against the Aztecs. He went 3-12 from the floor at UNM (10 points, 7 rebounds) and scored a team-high 12 points (4-10 shooting) at Air Force and only had two rebounds, matching his season low (2 vs. SUU). He had 13 points in 21 minutes vs. CSU and scored a career- and conference-play high 34 points vs. Wyoming (he scored 31 points twice as a freshman) and had team highs of 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He had game highs of 21 points and 7 rebounds against Utah. He scored 17 points and had 4 rebounds at UNLV Monday. He scored 11 points and had a team highs with 8 rebounds and 3 assists at Utah State. He scored 18 points and pulled down 6 boards against UC Irvine. He had 6 rebounds and scored a game-high 24 points, 16 in the second half, at UCSB. He had 8 points, 7 rebounds at FIU. He had a game-high 20 points at South Alabama. He averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds to earn MWC Player of the Week honors (Dec. 7-11) and was named the Cougar Classic MVP for the second time in his career (also as freshman). He recorded his first double-double of the year (fourth of career) with 24 points, 10 rebounds in win over Texas Southern. He scored a season-high 26 points in back-to-back games this year versus Denver and ASU.
Terrell Lyday Â• 17.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg Â• (17.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg MWC Games)
Lyday leads the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg. He and plays a team-high 33.6 minutes. He has scored in double figures in 28 of BYU's 30 games, including the last 19 straight games. He made a three-pointer in a BYU record 21 straight games this season before his streak came to an end at home vs. UNM when he went 0-4 (the previous record was 16 games by Andy Toolson in 1990). Lyday has made a three in 28 of 30 games overall. He has made a team-high 58 threes. He has excelled as a defender and helped hold Arizona State's high scoring Eddie House to 5 points on 0-16 shooting, the only time House has not scored a field goal in his career. House has the top two scoring games in the nation this year (61 and 46). He was named to the MWC All-Tournament Team, averaging 19 pts and 5 rbs in three games. He scored a game-high 23 vs. UNM, 16 vs. Utah and 18 pts vs. UNLV. He had a game-high 19 pts, with 6 rbs, 5 assts and 4 steals vs. SDSU. Lyday had 10 pts, 3 rbs and tied career-best 5 assists vs. AFA and had 17 pts, 4 rbs, 3 steals at Wyoming. He scored a game-high 20 vs. CSU along with team-high 4 rbs. He scored 17 and had career-best 5 assists vs. UNLV and scored a game-high 29, his third-best effort of the year, vs. UNM in 34 minutes. He had 14 points and 4 assists at Utah. He was only 4-11 from the floor, 1-4 on treys and 5-8 form the line. He had 12 points and 5 rebounds at SDSU. He scored 17 first-half points at UNM and 21 in the game. Playing on a sprained ankle, he was 4-11 (11 pts) vs. AFA. He had game-high 15 vs. CSU and scored 22 points vs. Wyoming. He had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists vs. Utah. Lyday made 5-10 threes, scored 30 points and had a career-high 11 rebounds and tied a career-best with 6 steals at UNLV. It was his first double-double of the year. He was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week (Jan. 3-8) after averaged 28.5 points and shooting better than 60 percent from the floor and on threes in two BYU wins. He carried BYU to a win at Utah State with a career-high 35 points, including six three-pointers, and scored a game-high 22 points to lead a BYU comeback win over UC Irvine. He had career-best 6 steals at UCSB, despite an off night scoring (2-11 for 8 points and held scoreless in the first half for the first time this year). He scored 26 points at FIU and had 15 points against South Alabama, where he was a perfect 4-4 on three-point attempts. He joined Wesley on the Cougar Classic All-Tournament team. He scored 18 pts against Arizona and had 17 vs. ASU.
Silester Rivers Â• Out after knee surgery
Rivers is out for the year after having surgery on his left knee last week. He averaged 6.6 points (4th on team) and 4.5 rebounds (2nd on team) and had a team-best 40 offensive rebounds while shooting 53.8 percent. He scored in double figures seven times and led the team in rebounding five times (6 vs. UC Riverside, 9 at Denver, 11 at FIU, 9 at UNM, 9 at Wyoming). He had 9 rbs, 5 pts in 19 minutes at Wyoming and did not take a shot and had 3 rbs in seven minutes at CSU. Despite fouling out, he gave BYU 21 solid minutes while banging Kaspars Kambala of UNLV (he was 2-3 for 4 pts, 3 rbs). He started vs. UNM but got in quick foul trouble and only played 5 minutes without scoring (0-1) while grabbing four rbs. He played 20 minutes at Utah and did not take a shot while grabbing two rbs and committing three fouls. He fouled out with 15 minutes remaining at SDSU (3 pts, 2 rbs). He played well with 12 pts, team-high 9 rbs at UNM in 29 minutes off the bench (only 6-12 from the line). He played only eight minutes at AFA but had 7 pts, 2 rbs, 2 assts. He scored 9 points vs. CSU and 8 points vs. Wyoming. He started his third game of the year vs. Utah and had 5 points, 4 rebounds while guarding the much larger Ute post players. Rivers had 3 points (3-4 FTs) and 5 rebounds at UNLV. He had a strong outing at Utah State, scoring 15 points (some nice post moves), 7 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. Rivers came off the bench against UC Irvine after starting the two previous games. Despite being weakened by the flu, he contributed 5 points and 6 rebounds in 11 minutes. He started his second straight game against UCSB but was 0-2 with 4 rebounds in 17 minutes. He played a season-high 31 minutes in his first start at Florida International and had double-double 10 points and season-high 11 rebounds. He scored 8 pts in 12 minutes at South Alabama. He scored game- and season-high 17 points against South Carolina State. He had 10 points versus Arizona State and 14 points in back-to-back games to open the year against UC Riverside and Southern Utah.
Michael Vranes Â• 7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg Â• (7.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg MWC Games)
Vranes is third on the team in scoring and second in assists at 2.6 apg. He has made a trey in 19 games. He has scored in double figures in nine games (BYU 8-1 in those games). He has started at the point in the last five games (he played point most of last year). He had 3 pts, 5 assts vs. UNLV. He held Utah's Tony Harvey to 2 pts and 1 asst and was called upon to shut down UNM's Lamont Long defensively. He had 5 pts, 2 rbs vs. SDSU and had 7 pts, 2 rbs, 3 assts vs. AFA. He had 10 pts (4-5 FG, 2-3 treys), 4 rbs at Wyoming. He had 9 pts, 3 rbs, 4 steals at CSU and scored 12 points and had team-high 7 rbs along with 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block vs. UNLV. He had 7 pts and game-high 6 assts vs. UNM but no rebounds for the first time all year. He had 7 pts, 1 rbd at Utah and had 12 points at SDSU after recording only three total points in the two previous games. At UNM, he went 1-6 shooting (3 pts, 2 rbs, 2 assts). Fighting the flu, he went 0-3 and did not score for the first time in his career at Air Force. He had a team-high 7 rebounds vs. CSU and 11 pts. He had 8 pts, 5 rbs , 3 assts vs. Wyoming. He had 4 pts, 4 rbs, 3 assts vs. Utah. He had 9 pts, 4 rbs at UNLV and 9 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assts at Utah State. He had 11 pts, 5 rbs, 5 assts against UC Irvine. Vranes matched a career high with a team-best 9 rebounds at UCSB and had a team-high 3 assists despite 3 points on 1-9 shooting. He scored 8 of his 12 points in overtime at FIU. He totalled 10 pts, 6 rbs and a season-high 7 assists vs. South Carolina State. He had a season-high 15 pts along with 5 rbs vs. Weber State.
Todd Christensen Â• 6.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg Â• (5.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg MWC Games)
Christensen shoots 47 percent, including 42.5 percent on threes. He plays both guard spots and has started in seven games. He had 8 pts. at UNLV, 7 pts vs. Utah in 12 minutes and 2 pts in only 3 minutes vs. UNM. He had 4 pts, 2 rbs in 22 minutes vs. SDSU and had 2 pts, 1 asst in 17 minutes vs. AFA. He had 10 pts (3-6 treys) at Wyoming and 3 pts at CSU. He was one off his season high vs. UNLV, scoring 15 pts (3-4 on treys). He took a season-high 10 shots and made 5 to equal his season best for field goals made. He 2 pts in 16 minutes vs. UNM. He scored 7 pts at Utah and totaled 11 pts at SDSU, including a 3-4 night from long range. He hit two treys for 6 pts at AFA. He did not score (0-3 -- all treys), 3 assts vs. CSU. He had 7 pts, 3 assts vs. Wyoming. He did not score, taking only one shot, vs. Utah. At UNLV, he had 8 pts, including a clutch three-pointer to put the Cougars up four late in the game. At Utah State he scored 7 early pts to help BYU shot 57 percent in the first half. Christensen scored 13 pts, including a four-point play at UCSB. Against UCSB and FIU he was 9-16 (.562) from the floor, 6-11 (.545) on treys, and 3-3 from the line while averaging 13.5 ppg. He scored all of his 14 pts in the first half at FIU (4-5 treys in 11 minutes). He had a season-high 16 pts, including 5-8 threes, vs. South Carolina State (10 at Denver).
Matt Montague Â• 2.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg Â• (3.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.3 apg MWC)
The only true point guard on the roster, he has team-leading 104 assists. He has started 18 games, including the first 12. He played 9 minutes vs. UNLV (2 pts, 3 assts). He played only 4 minutes vs. Utah (1 pt) and 11 minutes vs. UNM (did not score) without recording an assist in either game (now three games this year without an assist). He had 7 pts, matched season-best 6 rbs, and 4 assts in 28 minutes vs. SDSU and had 6 pts, 2 rbs, 2 assts, 2 steals in 20 minutes vs. AFA. He had 4 rbs, 1 asst, 2 steals in 22 minutes at Wyoming after playing only 12 minutes at CSU. He had 2 pts, 3 rbs, 4 assts (no turnovers) vs. UNLV in 15 minutes. He made his third trey of the year at Utah (5 pts, 3 assts in 18 minutes. He had 4 pts, 6 assts at UNM in 36 minutes. He took season-high 7 shots and scored season-best 9 points at AFA (6 assts). He had 5 assts, 5 rbs , 2 pts vs. CSU and 7 pts vs. Wyoming. He had 6 pts, 7 assts at UNLV. At Utah State he played 25 minutes off the bench and had 4 points, 2 assists. He was limited to 10 minutes (achilles) against UC Irvine and did not record an assist for the first time this year. Montague made three clutch free throws down the stretch at UCSB. He had 2 pts, 4 rbs , 8 assts in team- and personal career-high 41 minutes at FIU. He shared team-high 5 rebounds with Wesley at South Alabama (4 assts). After receiving stitches to repair a cut above his eye against ASU, Montague returned and led BYU on a 14-1 run. He dished out a season-high 9 assists vs. Weber State and helped hold Wildcat guard Eddie Gill to 2-14 shooting.
Eric Nielsen Â• 5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg Â• (5.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg MWC Games)
Nielsen has started 25 games. After scoring 10 and 12 points in first two games, he went 14 straight outings without reaching double digits until scoring 10 points in back-to-back games ( vs. CSU and at AFA). He has six double-digit games. He has played his best ball in the MWC tournament, setting career-highs the first two days (11 rbs vs. UNM and 17 pts vs. Utah). He is averaging 12.5 pts, 10 rbs in the two wins but had 2 pts and no rbs at UNLV. He started vs. SDSU, 8 pts, 3 rbs after coming off the bench vs. AFA (2 pts, 2 rbs, 15 min.). He had 1 pt, 6 rbs at Wyoming and 5 pts, 2 rbs at CSU. He had 11 pts in 22 minutes vs. UNLV and had only one foul after having fouled out of the previous three games. He had 7 pts, 4 rbs in 24 minutes vs. UNM. He had 4 pts, 2 rbs at Utah. He had 9 pts, 4 rbs and a team-high 3 assists at SDSU. He was 4-6 for 8 points, 5 boards at UNM and had a career-best 9 boards (4-5, 10 pts) at AFA. He had 6 rebounds, 3 steals vs. CSU. He didn't score for the second time this year vs. Wyoming. He fouled out, playing 14 minutes, scoring 2 points on one attempt and had 1 rebound vs. Utah. In foul trouble, he played only 10 minutes at UNLV (2 pts, 4 rebounds). At Utah State he was held scoreless and had 4 rebounds. He had 4 points, 3 rebounds and a season-high 3 assists vs. UC Irvine. At UCSB, he equaled a then career-best 7 rebounds. He was married to BYU All-American volleyball player Anna-Lena Smith Dec. 30 in Mesa, Ariz. He had 8 points at South Alabama and at Denver. He scored a season-high 12 points versus SUU and had 10 against UC Riverside.
Nathan Cooper Â• 5.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg Â• (4.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg MWC Games)
Since Silester Rivers' surgery, Cooper has started the last five games (he started 23 of 28 games last year). He had 2 pts in 16 minutes at UNLV and played season-high 35 minutes vs. Utah and had 9 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assts. He had 2 pts in 28 minutes vs. UNM. In his first start vs. AFA, he responded with 14 pts, 4 rbs in 29 minutes. He has made a team-best 76.3 percent from the line (45-59). He has seven double-figures scoring games and has made a trey in nine games, including three of the last five. He had 4 pts, season-high 9 rbs vs. SDSU. Prior to getting his first start last week, he had not scored in the three previous games, playing 8 minutes at Wyoming, 16 minutes at CSU and 7 minutes vs. UNLV. He had team-best 6 rbs along with 7 pts, 2 assts vs. UNM in 27 minutes. He hit 3-4 treys and scored 11 pts along with 5 rbs at Utah. He had 6 pts, 3 rbs at SDSU. He broke out of a slump with 11 straight BYU pts, 9 in 1:40, and 5 rbs in 12 minutes at UNM. He did not score for first time this year and had 1 rebound at AFA. He had 4 pts, 5 rbs and 2 assts vs. CSU after scoring 1 point vs. Wyoming. He had 5 pts, 3 rbs vs. Utah. He was forced to play the 4 position at UNLV with foul trouble to Eric Nielsen and Silester Rivers. He played 22 minutes (2 pts, 1 rbd). He played 15 minutes at Utah State, scoring 1 point and adding 2 rbs, 2 assts. He and Michael Vranes received the coaches game ball for their effort against UC Irvine (Cooper had 14 pts, 4 rbs in 31 minutes). He scored BYU's first basket at UCSB five minutes into the contest and sparked an 8-0 run with a steal, forcing a turnover and handing out an assist. He finished with 3 pts, 3 rbs. He had 5 pts, 6 rbs effort at FIU. He set a career high with 7 assts at USA. He scored a season- and team-high 15 pts vs. Weber State.
David Nielsen Â• 1.5 ppg, 0.8 rpg Â• (1.6 ppg, 0.6 rpg MWC Games)
A redshirt freshman, Nielsen has played in 11 of the last 14 games, including the last seven straight. He has played in 17 games this year and averages 6.4 minutes. He played 13 minutes vs. UNLV and a season-high 18 minutes vs. UNM, having to guard players six inches taller than he is while adding 4 pts and 2 rbs. on 2-3 shooting. He played 10 minutes with 2 rbs, 1 asst vs. Utah. He played a 16 minutes vs. AFA and tied career-best 6 pts, 2 rbs, along with 1 assist. He had 2 rbs in seven minutes at CSU. He scoring 4 points at SDSU and scored 6 points vs. Texas Southern. He is 7-13 from the floor and 12-15 from the line.
John Allen Â• 1.1 ppg, 1.1 rpg Â• (1.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg MWC Games)
A walkon freshman, Allen has played in 15 games this year, and averages 4.9 minutes. He played 7 minutes at UNLV and 6 minutes vs. Utah, where he picked up 4 fouls while trying to give Mekeli Wesley a breather because of foul trouble. He had 4 pts in 5 minutes vs. AFA and 2 pts in 6 minutes at Wyoming. He played a season-high 11 minutes vs. UNM with 4 pts, 3 rbs. He was 1-2 from the floor, including 1-1 on threes (his first).
Marc Roberts Â• 1.2 ppg, 0.5 rpg Â• (1.1 ppg, 0.5 rpg MWC Games)
Marc Roberts had 2 pts in each of the last three games in late action, including a spectacular left-handed jam at UNLV. He has seen action in 12 of the last 15 games. He started for the first time at Wyoming and was 0-1 (a trey),1 rbd, 2 assts in nine minutes. He was 2-2 from the floor and 2-2 from the line for a career-best 6 pts in seven minutes at CSU. He is 6-12 from the floor and 11-14 from the line.