BYU Plays Rival Utah Friday in MWC Tournament Semifinal | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU Plays Rival Utah Friday in MWC Tournament Semifinal

LAS -- BYU, the MWC sixth seed at 7-7 and now 19-9 overall, faces No. 2-seed Utah, 22-7, 10-4, at 6 p.m. in one of two MWC tournament semifinals Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be televised by ESPN+Plus (KJZZ, channel 14 in Salt Lake City) and can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant calling the action.

Cougars Defeat Lobos in Opening Round

BYU defeated New Mexico 55-43 Thursday in the conference quarterfinals. BYU has now opened with a tournament upset win in each of the last two seasons. BYU held New Mexico to 43 points, equaling the fewest points allowed by BYU this season (South Carolina State also scored 43). Lyday led BYU with 23 points and Mekeli Wesley added 10. Eric Nielsen had a career-high 11 rebounds while Michael Vranes did a good job containing Lamont Long. The Lobo star had scored 27 and 28 points in the previous two matchups but with Vranes taking the defensive assignment, Long was limited to 13 points, including only two first-half points. BYU shot 37 percent for the game but held the Lobos to 28 percent, including only 1-15 three-pointers, the worst three-point game by a BYU opponent this season.

Game Quick Facts:

BYU (19-9, 7-7) vs. Utah (22-7, 10-4)

Friday, March 10 • Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) • Las Vegas • 6 p.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Mtn)

BYU's Probable Starters:

Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG F 42 Nathan Cooper 6-5 210 Jr. 5.8 3.2 F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-8 210 So. 5.2 4.1 F 15 Mekeli Wesley 6-9 230 Jr. 17.5 5.9 G 24 Terrell Lyday 6-3 190 Jr. 17.5 4.0

G 13 Michael Vranes 6-3 190 So. 7.9 4.1

Utah's Probable Starters:

Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG

F 13 Hanno Mottola 6-9 250 Sr. 17.4 4.7

F 50 Alex Jensen 6-7 225 Sr. 13.5 7.5 C 52 Nate Althoff 6-11 260 Jr. 9.9 4.6

G 5 Tony Harvey 6-5 200 Sr. 9.7 2.7

G 32 Jeremy Killion 5-11 190 Sr. 9.5 1.8

BYU Coach: Steve Cleveland

Record at BYU: 40-46 (3rd year)

Overall Div. I record: Same

Utah Coach: Rick Majerus

Record at Utah: 259-71 (11th year)

Overall record: 358-123 (16th year)

Series Record: Utah 114-113

Game Time: 6 p.m. Pacific (7 Mtn)

Broadcast Plans:

Radio:

Network: Cougar Sports Network

Station: KSL Newsradio 1160 AM

Air Time: 5:30 p.m. Pacific (6:30 p.m.Mtn)

Play-by-play: Greg Wrubell

Commentary: Mark Durrant

Television:

Network: ESPN+Plus

Local Station: KJZZ, channel 14

Air Time: 6 p.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Mtn)

Play-by-play: Rich Waltz

Commentary: Irv Brown

Cougars in the Conference Tournament

The Cougars have a 13-13 record in conference tournament games, including 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, before losing to Utah for the third time of the year. Prior to last year's win, BYU's last conference tournament win was a 96-65 win over Utah in 1994 event at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. BYU went on to defeat Fresno State in the second round, 87-72, before losing to Hawaii, 73-66.

Scouting Utah

Utah is 22-7 overall and tied for first place in the Mountain West Conference with a 10-4 record. As the number 2 seed, Utah defeated Air Force 74-65 in its opening round game Thursday. In non-conference play, the Utes defeated Utah State (77-42), Oregon State (87-77) and nationally ranked Texas (79-73) at home and Washington State (78-66) on the road. Utah lost at Louisville (75-55). The Utes other two non-conference losses were to Kentucky (56-48) in the Preseason NIT and at Weber State (84-72). Common non-conference opponents with BYU are Utah State (home win), Weber State (road loss) and Southern Utah (73-56 home win). BYU defeated Southern Utah and Weber State at home and won at Utah State. Utah returns four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's 28-5 team that went unbeaten in conference play and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Utes boast two of the best forwards in the country in Mottola (6-9 Sr.) and Alex Jensen (6-7 Sr.). Althoff (6-11 Jr.) fills the center position and Jeremy Killion (5-11 Jr.) the shooting guard slot with and Tony Harvey (6-5 Sr.) playing the point position Mottola and Jensen were named first-team all-conference with Jensen being selected as the league MVP.

Series Notes

This will be the 228th meeting between the two rivals with the series with Utah leading the series 114-113. Utah now leads the series for the first time in the 91 year history of the rivalry. This year the Utes won both meetings with BYU and have won the last 12, their longest win streak in the series.. Utah is BYU's second longest standing opponent (Utah State oldest). The Cougars' last victory was a 64-57 home win in January 1995. Coach Cleveland is 0-7 against the Utes. BYU's biggest win in recent history over the Utes was a 96-65 win at the Delta Center during the 1994 WAC Tournament. BYU is 3-2 against Utah in conference tournament games, including a BYU's 51-49 overtime win in Laramie for the WAC Tournament title in 1990-91.

Last Meetings

SALT LAKE CITY -- BYU lost at No. 20 Utah, 77-62. Played without injured forward Hanno Mottola, Utah's size advantage was still evident as Ute big men Nate Althoff, Alex Jensen and Mike Puzey shot a combined 15-18 from the floor. The Utes hit on 56.3 percent of their attempts -- the best percentage by a BYU opponent all season. The Cougars shot 41 percent and were out rebounded 35-21. BYU took a 19-8 lead on a Todd Christensen jumper at the 13.26 mark, but Utah out scored the Cougars 18-3 over the next seven minutes and entered the break with a 35-30 advantage. Nathan Cooper hit three treys in a second-half run that brought BYU within 56-53 with 8:49 remaining. But like the first meeting when the the Cougars failed to score in the final seven minutes, BYU again suffered a scoring drought, going five minutes without a point and was outscored 21-9 the rest of the way. Alex Jensen scored eight of his 16 points during Utah's run that put the game away. Five Utes reached double figures, led by Jeremy Killion with 18. Wesley and Lyday led BYU with 14 points (but shot a combined 7-22) and Cooper added 11. Wesley had six boards and Cooper and Lyday a team-best four assists.

PROVO -- Utah defeated BYU 56-49 in Provo on Jan. 15 to even the overall series at 113-113. Unable to convert in the final minutes, BYU saw its five-game win streak came to an end before a near-sellout crowd of 22,580 in the Marriott Center. With then No. 24 Utah holding a 51-49 edge with 6:54 left in the game, both the Cougars and Utes went the next six minutes without scoring with BYU missing several opportunities to tie the game, including several missed free throws and a missed layup. Hanno Mottola's jumper with 54 seconds left gave Utah a four-point margin. A Utah steal on BYU's next possession sealed the Cougars' fate. The Utes' size proved an advantage as Mottola led Utah with 18 points and Nate Althoff added 11. Alex Jensen scored nine while making both of his three-point attempts to give the Utes a lift at critical times. Mekeli Wesley scored 21 points, followed by Terell Lyday with 12, to lead BYU. Wesley also had a game-high seven rebounds. The Cougars shot 40 percent for the game compared to Utah's 43 percent.

BYU's record when . . .

BYU leads at half 17-1

Opponent leads at half 1-7

Score tied at half 1-1

BYU leads with 5 minutes left 18-1

Opponent leads with 5 min. left 0-8

BYU leads with 1 minute left 18-0

Opponent leads with 1 min. left 1-9

Score tied with 1 minute left 0-0

Game goes into overtime 1-0

BYU out rebounds opponent 13-0

Opponent out rebounds BYU 6-9

BYU and opponent tie in rebounds 0-0

BYU shoots 50 % or better 11-0

Opponent shoots 50 % or better 0-5

BYU out shoots opponent 18-1

Opponent out shoots BYU 1-8