PROVO -- BYU (21-10) will host Southern Illinois (20-12) Monday at 9 p.m. in the Marriott Center in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. The game will be broadcast on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant calling the action. The game will not be televised.
The winner of Monday's game will advance to the final eight and face the winner of Notre Dame (19-14) and Xavier (21-11) at a site to be determined. The winner of that game, which will likely be played Wednesday, will advance to Madison Square Garden to compete in the NIT semifinals.
BYU in the NIT
BYU has a 10-5 NIT record in eight appearances, including two NIT titles (1951 and 1966). With its 81-54 win Wednesday over Bowling Green, BYU has a 4-1 home record in NIT games. 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.
Game Quick Facts:
NIT Second Round
BYU (21-10) vs. Southern Illinois (20-12)
Monday, March 20 Â• Marriott Center (22,700)Â• Provo, Utah Â• 9 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. 5.7 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. 7.7 4.0
Southern Illinois' Probable Starters: Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 32 Chris Thunell 6-9 223 Sr. 10.8 6.7
F 42 Derrick Tilmon 6-7 227 Sr. 8.3 4.6
G 33 Kent Williams 6-2 173 Fr. 13.2 2.5
G 3 Brandon Mells 6-1 185 So. 7.5 3.4
G 5 Ricky Collum 5-11 185 Sr. 9.8 4.0
BYU Coach: Steve Cleveland
Record at BYU: 42-47 (3rd year)
Overall Div. I record: Same
Southern Illinois Coach: Bruce Weber
Record at SIU: 35-24 (2nd year)
Overall record: Same
Series Record: First meeting
Game Time: 9 p.m. Mountain
Network: Cougar Sports Network
Station: KSL Newsradio 1160 AM
Air Time: 8:30 p.m. Mountain
Play-by-play: Greg Wrubell
Analyst: Mark Durrant
SIU Coach Weber Bio
Bruce Weber took over as SIU's head basketball coach in May of 1998 and promptly went about restoring the program to the high level it had enjoyed during an unusual seven-year run when the Salukis made four consecutive trips to the NIT followed by three NCAA Tournament. An assistant to Gene Keady at Purdue for 18 years prior to taking over the Saluki program, Weber guided SIU to a 15-12 season a year ago and had his club in the hunt for the 2000 Missouri Valley Conference title up until the last week of season. The Salukis are now 20-12.
SIU Arrives From Colorado
As a result of the win and their assignment to play BYU in Provo Monday night, the Salukis' elected to stay in Colorado after their win over the Buffaloes Thursday night. They remained in Broomfield, Colo., just south of Boulder overnight Friday before flying from Denver to Salt Lake City Saturday to prepare for Monday night's game. SIU also arrived two days early prior to its game in Colorado because of spring break. SIU is scheduled to shoot around in the Marriott Center Monday from 1-3 p.m.
Scouting Southern Illinois
Southern Illinois is 20-12 overall after its 94-92 road win at Colorado Thursday. A member of the Missouri Valley Conference, the Salukis entered the final week of their conference season tied for first place but dropped their final two games to finish third with a 12-6 record behind Indiana State and Southwest Missouri State. After the road loss at Bradley (71-63) and the home setback to Southwest Missouri State (62-59), Southern Illinois went on to defeat Evansville (75-63) in the conference tournament before losing in the next round to Southwest Missouri (67-56). With the win over Colorado Thursday, the Salukis are 2-5 in the last five games but have won 11 of the last 15. They went 10-3 at home, 6-7 on the road and 4-2 at a neutral site. Southern Illinois was 3-5 against NCAA teams this year with wins over Indiana State, Southeast Missouri State and Creighton. Seven of SIU's 11 non-conference games during the regular season were against teams that made either the NCAA or NIT. The Salukis are a well-balanced team that has experienced leadership and some good young talent. Seniors Ricky Collum (5-11, guard), Chris Thunell (6-9, forward/center) and Derrick Tilmon (6-7, forward/center) are three senior starters joined by sophomore Brandon Mells (6-1, guard) and freshman Kent Williams (6-2, guard). Three key players come off the bench, including juniors Joshua Cross (6-4, guard) and Abel Schrader (6-4 guard/forward) and freshman Jermaine Dearman (6-8, forward). The freshman Williams leads the team in scoring at 13.2, followed by Thunell at 10.8 and Collum at 9.8. The balanced scoring effort is evident as all eight primary players for Southern Illinois average between six and 13 points per game. Thunell tops the team with 6.7 rebounds per contest while Mells has dished out a team-best 3.6 assists and Collum 3.4. As a team, the Salukis shoot 42.5 percent from the floor, including 34.6 on threes, and 66 percent from the line. They have out rebounded their opponents on the year, 37.9-37.0. Southern Illinois averages 71.5 points while giving up 71.6.
This will be the first meeting between BYU and Southern Illinois University.
The Salukis' Last Game -- NIT Win Over Colorado
In its NIT win Thursday, SIU's three senior starters _ Chris Thunell, Derrick Tilmon and Ricky Collum _ led their teammates to a 94-92 win over Colorado's Buffaloes of the Big 12 Conference before a hostile crowd of 4,023 in the Coors Events Center. Thunell led the way to the nail-biting victory with 21 points while Collum had 14 and Tilmon, playing with a painful back injury, added 12. The combined 47-point total was their best collective point production of the season as SIU posted its 20th win, despite a 1-3 start to the season. While all nine SIU players in the game played key roles in the win, it was Thunell's night. When Colorado closed what once had been a 15-point SIU lead to just two with 1:30 to go, Thunell broke loose for a layup to make it 89-85. CU again got within two at 89-87 at :31 and fouled Thunell on the inbounds pass one second later. He answered by hitting both chances at the free throw line. It was a repeat just seconds later. The Buffs scored to cut SIU's lead to 91-89, fouled Thunell and he stepped up to the line and made both free throws. The second _ his 21st point of the game _ was also his 1,000th point as a Saluki. For the game, Thunell hit 7-of-10 field goals which included 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the line. Coach Bruce Weber was ecstatic following the game saying every player in the game gave him production with four guys in double figures and four others with seven or more points. Maintaining poise in the late going also was a key to the Saluki win. As a team, SIU shot .517 from the floor on 31-of-60 and was a season-high .611 from beyond the arc as they connected on 11 of 18 attempts.
Last time out -- Cougars Defeat Bowling Green in NIT First-Round Game
BYU shot 57 percent from the floor, including 47 percent on threes (8-17), and 82 percent from the line while holding Bowling Green to 33 percent (30 percent on threes) in its 81-54 win over the MAC regular season champions Wednesday. Lyday led BYU with 15 points as four of the Cougars' five starters reached double figures. Vranes added 14 points with five assists, and Mekeli Wesley and Eric Nielsen each contributed 13 points. Wesley and David Nielsen shared rebound honors with seven while Eric Nielsen went a perfect 6-6 from the floor and 1-1 from the line. Nathan Cooper had a game-high six assists (one off his career high) with five rebounds and four points. David Nielsen recorded career highs with seven points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes, by far the most he has played in a game this season. The Cougars led at the half 38-28 before out scoring the Falcons by 17 in the final 20 minutes.
BYU had its fourth best shooting night of the year Wednesday vs. Bowling Green, hitting 57 percent from the floor (32-56). The eight three pointers made by the Cougars were the most since making nine at Wyoming.
After coming on strong at the end of each of Coach Steve Cleveland's first two seasons, BYU is again playing well at the right time, having won five of its last six games. The Cougars have held their opponents below 35 percent shooting in each of the five wins (UNLV made 52 percent in the lone loss). In Cleveland's first year, BYU completed a rare sweep of New Mexico and UTEP on the road to earn a WAC tournament berth and last year the Cougars had a blowout win over UTEP before upsetting TCU in the WAC tournament. This year BYU advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 1994 with wins over New Mexico and Utah and earned its first post-season bid in five years.
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. He had 13 points vs. Bowling Green after having pulled down a career-best 11 rebounds while scoring eight points vs. New Mexico and scoring a game- and career-high 17 points vs. Utah. 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).
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 is 13-2 at home, advanced to the MWC tournament finals, earned 20-plus wins and won an NIT game. 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).
Top Recruiting Class
During this year's early signing period, Coach Cleveland received NCAA Letters-of-Intent from five players who make up a top-25 recruiting class and the second-best signings among schools west of the Mississippi. 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's record when . . .
BYU leads at half 18-1
Opponent leads at half 2-8
Score tied at half 1-1
BYU leads with 5 minutes left 20-1
Opponent leads with 5 min. left 0-9
BYU leads with 1 minute left 20-0
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 14-0
Opponent out rebounds BYU 7-10
BYU and opponent tie in rebounds 0-0
BYU shoots 50 % or better 12-0
Opponent shoots 50 % or better 0-6
BYU out shoots opponent 20-1
Opponent out shoots BYU 1-9
BYU's Program is Built to Win
In his third year , Coach Cleveland has made significant strides in rebuilding a program that finished 1-25 before his arrival.
Â• A top 25 recruiting Class
Â• #2 among schools West of the Mississippi.
Â• Top players in Utah commit to BYU
Â• Top LDS players commit to BYU
2. ON THE COURT:
Â• First 20-win season in five years
Â• Three years of improvement:
9-21 in first year (4-10 at home)
12-16 in second year (9-5 at home)
21-10 in third year (13-2 at home)
Â• Conference tournament finalist (first time in six years)
Â• Defeated every team in the conference
Â• Toughest schedule among conference schools for second straight year (this year rated No. 44).
Â• No. 1 RPI in MWC (Ranked 45 and 46)
Â• Seven conference champions on the schedule
Â• Eight post-season teams on schedule, including five NCAA Tournament teams
Â• NIT invitation and first-round win
Â• First post-season bid in five years
Â• Average home attendance improved to 10,410 at home this year
Â• Attendance at conference home games improved to 13,464 from 11,562
6. IN-STATE RIVALS
Â• Defeated all four in-state schools
Â• First time ever BYU has defeated Utah, Utah State, Weber State and Southern Utah in the same year
7. CONFERENCE AWARDS
Â• Conference Newcomer team members three years in a row
- Ron Selleaze (WAC Newcomer of the Year, newcomer team, 2nd team all-conference, 1997-98)
- Mekeli Wesley (WAC newcomer team, 1997-98; 2nd team all-conference, 1999-2000 )
- Mark Bigelow (WAC freshman of the year, newcomer team, 2nd team all-conference, 1998-99)
- Terrell Lyday (MWC Newcomer of the Year, All-Tournament Team 1999-2000)
8. 100% GRADUATION RATE
Â• Spring 2000: 6 for 6
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. The Cougars out shot their opponents in five of last six games (20-1 in on year when they out shoot the opponent and 1-9 when they don't). BYU shot a season-best 61.2 percent vs. AFA at home. The Cougars are 12-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better.
BYU won its last game after having a four-game winning streak come to an end Saturday vs UNLV. BYU has won five of its last six games. 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 surpassed 20 assists (13 turnovers) in a game for the fifth time this year (all wins) with 22 assists vs. Bowling Green -- one of its season high. BYU had 21 assists at home game vs. UNLV. Other games were Denver (21), vs. Texas Southern (20) and vs. South Carolina State (23). 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. Against MWC opponents, BYU has had more assists than turnovers in seven of 17 games. On the year, BYU averages 14.3 assists and 13.7 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 16 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 shot 47 percent on three vs. Bowling Green (8-17). 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. Lyday hit 5-6 threes vs. Bowling Green -- the eighth time he has made three or more treys in a game this year. He was 1-3 vs. UNLV and has made a three in 29 of BYU's 31 games this year. Lyday was 0-3 vs. Utah, made 2-5 vs. UNM and made three treys vs. San Diego State-- He has 18 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 14-5 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 13 games and BYU is 9-4 in those contests. When the Cougars get good scoring efforts from its supporting cast, they have been hard to beat. BYU is 9-1 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 6-1 (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 1,145 career points, moved into 21th place on BYU's career scoring list. He just passed Doug Howard (1,143 points, 1968-70), and needs six points to overtake Elwood Romney (1,150 points, 1930-33), and 12 to surpass Kari Limo (1,156 points, 1967-69) into 19th place. 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 its win over Bowling Green and its two tournament wins last week. BYU held Bowling Green, rated the third best shooting team in the nation coming into the game, to 33 percent shooting. In BYU's two MWC Tournament wins, 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 18 games. BYU is 17-1 in those games (exception - at Air Force). BYU holds opponents to 64.1 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.
With its 81-54 win over Bowling Green, BYU has scored more than 80 points in a seven games and averages 70.8 points. BYU has shot better than 50 percent in 12 games (all wins), including 57 percent vs. Bowling Green. 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 46.2 percent (37.6 on threes and 70.2 percent from the line. BYU is 12-0 when it shots 50 percent or better and 20-1 when it out shoots its opponent (except at AFA). Eric Nielsen makes 57.3 percent to lead BYU. Mekeli Wesley makes 47.6 percent while Todd Christensen (46.3) and Terrell Lyday (46.2) have the best percentages from the back court. Cooper makes a team-best 77 percent from the line.
Coach Cleveland Show
Radio: Coach Steve Cleveland can be heard Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. with host Greg Wrubell on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM.
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
BGSU 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 4-1 (5)
The starting lineup of Michael Vranes, Terrell Lyday, Nathan Cooper, Eric Nielsen and Mekeli Wesley has started the last five games and is now 4-1 as a group. Nathan Cooper has started the last six games, his only starts of the season, and BYU is 5-1 in those games. BYU coach Cleveland has used seven different lineups this season.
Mekeli Wesley Â• 17.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg Â• (17.4, 5.4 MWC Games)
Wesley is BYU's top rebounder and has been BYU's leading scorer much of the year. He has scored 8 pts less than Terrell Lyday. He has been BYU's top scorer in 16 games this season and has scored in double figures in 28 of BYU's 31 games., including a string of 18 straight at one point of the season. He has 11 games with 20 or more points and one game with more than 30. He had 13 pts, team-best 7 rbs vs. BGSU. 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, 4.1 rpg Â• (17.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg MWC Games)
Lyday leads the team in scoring and plays a team-high 33.2 minutes. He has scored in double figures in 29 of BYU's 31 games, including the last 20 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 29 of 31 games overall. He has made a team-high 63 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 had a team-high 15pts in 20 minutes vs. BGSU. 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• 7.7 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 2.7 apg. He has made a trey in 20 games. He has scored in double figures in 10 games (BYU is 9-1 in those games). He has started at the point in the last six games (he played point most of last year). He was one off his season high with 14 pts, and 5 assts vs. BGSU. 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• 5.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg Â• (5.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg MWC Games)
Christensen shoots 46.3 percent, including 42 percent on threes. He plays both guard spots and has started in seven games. He played only 8 minutes (0 pts, 3 assts) vs. BGSU. 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 107 assists. He has started 18 games, including the first 12. He had 6 pts, 3 assts vs. BGSU. He played 9 minutes vs. UNLV (2 pts, 3 assts). 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• 5.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg Â• (5.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg MWC Games)
Nielsen has started 26 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 seven double-digit games, including two of the last three. He was 6-6 for 13 pts vs. BGSU. 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 averaged 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• 5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg Â• (4.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg MWC Games)
Since Silester Rivers' surgery, Cooper has started the last six games (he started 23 of 28 games last year). He had 4 pts, 5 rbs, 6 assts vs. BGSU. 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 77 percent from the line. He has seven double-figures scoring games and has made a trey in nine games. He had 4 pts, season-high 9 rbs vs. SDSU. Prior to getting his first start, 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• 1.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg Â• (1.6 ppg, 0.6 rpg MWC Games)
A redshirt freshman, Nielsen has played in 12 of the last 15 games, including the last eight straight. He has played in 18 games this year and averages7.9 minutes after playing a career-high 34 minutes vs. BGSU. He also had career bests with 7 pts, 7 rbs, 2 assts, 3 steals. He played 13 minutes vs. UNLV and 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 a then 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• 1.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg Â• (1.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg MWC Games)
A walkon freshman, Allen has played in 16 games this year, and averages 4.9 minutes. He had career-best 6 pts in 5 minutes vs. BGSU. 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• 1.3 ppg, 0.5 rpg Â• (1.1 ppg, 0.5 rpg MWC Games)
Roberts had 3 pts (3-4 FTs) in 5 minutes vs. BGSU. He had 2 pts in each of the three previous games in late action, including a spectacular left-handed jam at UNLV. He has seen action in 13 of the last 16 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 6-13 from the floor and 14-18 from the line.