BYU Win Over Utah Earns MWC Title

The Cougars took home their first outright league championship since 1987-88 Saturday night with a win over Utah. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Playing before a sellout crowd of 22,812, the BYU Cougars secured their position as the Mountain West Conference Champions on Saturday evening with an 85-62 victory against in-state rival, University of Utah. With this win, the Cougars improved to 23-7 overall and 13-3 in conference play, winning their first outright MWC regular-season title. BYU also maintained its hold on the nation's longest active home winning streak at 31 games.

"Obviously it was a well played game," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "I thought our team was really together tonight. There was balanced scoring, but I really thought we were able to handle the emotions of the night and stay together."

This was the 244th meeting between these two teams. BYU previously secured a 76-66 win at Utah earlier in the season.

"This has been a great rivalry," said Utah head coach Ray Giacoletti. "BYU is very deserving. Their group of seniors have come together and, with a few additions, they have all the pieces."

Six seniors were honored before the last home game of their careers, including Austin Ainge, Jimmy Balderson, Derek Dawes, Fernando Malaman, Mike Rose and Keena Young.

"This is a wonderful class of seniors whose hard work and dedication have led us to a regular-season conference championship," said Coach Rose. "I want to thank them for their friendship, and I want them to know that they will always be a part of this Cougar basketball program."

BYU was led in scoring by Young and Sam Burgess with 15 points each. Also scoring in double figures was Trent Plaisted with 13 points and Ainge with 11 points. Young also led the team with nine rebounds.

Utah got out to an early 6-1 lead before Young earned his first two points on the Cougars' possession following a Luke Nevill traveling call. A blocked shot by Plaisted was soon followed by a three-point play by Young with 16:28 to play in the first half, evening the score at 6-6.

With 14:03 to play in the first half, the Cougars took their first lead of the game after a dunk by Plaisted. Lee Cummard increased BYU's lead to 13-9 by hitting his first three-pointer of the night.

Utah's Johnnie Bryant hit a three-pointer, giving his team a one-point lead, before Balderson made one of his own with 10:15 left in the first half. A pass from Ainge to Burgess gave the Cougars a 21-20 lead.

Burgess' make from behind the arc with just under seven minutes to play in the first half was soon followed by the same from Ainge. Young's make off the glass gave the Cougars a 29-21 lead.

A three-pointer by Balderson with a minute to play in the half brought the score to 34-24. The fans were then brought to their feet when Ainge's fast break lay-up resulted in a three-point play.

BYU held a 37-26 advantage to close the first half, which consisted of five lead changes.

To open the second half of play, Plaisted went to 2-for-2 from the line after Nevill was called for his fourth foul. Plaisted recorded his second dunk of the night with 17:30 in the second half.

After a missed jumper, Young pulled down his own rebound to bring the score to 44-29. Mike Rose scored his first points of the game on a three-pointer with 15:30 to go in the second half.

Jonathan Tavernari increased the Cougar lead to 14 points when he made a lay-up on a pass from Young. Ainge followed with a three-pointer on the next possession. Balderson hit a three-pointer of his own with 13:30 in the second half.

After a Balderson miss, Tavernari scored the rebound and laid it in, bringing the score to 57-35. Mike Rose capitalized on a three-point play with 10:46 to play in the second half. The Cougars' 15-0 run ended on a Utah free throw by Daniel Deane.

With 8:40 to go in the second half Mike Rose found his second basket from behind the arc, bringing the score to 69-40, BYU's largest lead of the game. On Utah's next possession, Burgess recorded his first block of the season. A lay-in by Tavernari brought the Cougar lead to 73-49.

A pair of free throws by Utah's Ricky Johns with just under five minutes to play in the game was followed by a score from Plaisted. A successful trip to the free-throw line put the Cougars up two more points, bringing the lead to 81-57.

Utah's Johns hit a late three-pointer with under two minutes to play. After a second trip to the free-throw line for Burgess, BYU was up 85-60 with 41 seconds to play in the game.

As the buzzer sounded, BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe presented the conference championship trophy to the team.

"You couldn't have drawn it up any better," said Ainge. "We beat the Utes on our home floor by 23 for the conference championship."

"There's still a lot of basketball to be played," said Coach Rose. "We'll be happy for a couple of days and then go back to work."

Utah was led by Bryant with 18 points and Shaun Green with six rebounds.

The Cougars will next head to Las Vegas to play in the MWC Tournament. Entering as the No. 1 seed, the team will play on Thursday at noon PT against either New Mexico or TCU. The game will be televised on the mtn.

CLICK HERE to view postgame notes and quotes.

Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS

Utah Utes vs BYU Cougars

03/03/07 5:35 p.m. at Marriott Center, Provo, Utah

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VISITORS: Utah Utes 11-18, 6-10 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN

11 BORHA, Lawrence..... f 2-7 0-1 1-1 1 0 1 2 5 0 1 0 0 16

21 GREEN, Shaun........ f 3-12 0-5 3-3 2 4 6 1 9 4 3 1 1 34

50 NEVILL, Luke........ c 3-6 0-0 1-2 0 4 4 4 7 0 2 3 0 23

01 BRYANT, Johnnie..... g 5-9 3-5 5-5 1 3 4 1 18 0 1 0 0 31

32 JOHNS, Ricky........ g 3-7 1-3 4-4 1 1 2 1 11 1 1 0 1 37

00 EATMON, Curtis...... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 15

03 GRANT, Chris........ 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 4

05 DRCA, Luka.......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3

13 WEIGH, Stephen...... 0-3 0-1 2-2 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 14

30 DEANE, Daniel....... 1-3 0-0 8-10 0 2 2 4 10 0 1 0 0 21

51 FOSTER, David....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2

TEAM................ 1 3 4

Totals.............. 17-49 4-15 24-27 6 18 24 18 62 7 10 4 4 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-26 34.6% 2nd Half: 8-23 34.8% Game: 34.7% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-7 28.6% 2nd Half: 2-8 25.0% Game: 26.7% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 6-7 85.7% 2nd Half: 18-20 90.0% Game: 88.9% 2

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HOME TEAM: BYU Cougars 23-7, 13-3 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN

03 YOUNG, Keena........ f 7-10 0-0 1-1 2 7 9 2 15 4 3 0 1 29

44 PLAISTED, Trent..... c 4-9 0-0 5-8 1 2 3 3 13 1 0 1 1 22

13 AINGE, Austin....... g 4-9 2-6 1-1 0 4 4 2 11 4 3 1 1 30

23 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... g 3-8 3-4 0-2 1 3 4 1 9 1 0 1 3 27

30 CUMMARD, Lee........ g 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 3 3 3 0 0 0 17

02 ROSE, Mike.......... 3-4 2-3 1-1 0 3 3 2 9 0 2 0 0 17

10 IVANOVIC, Vuk....... 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 2 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 6

15 MALAMAN, Fernando... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5

20 BURGESS, Sam........ 5-5 1-1 4-4 2 2 4 2 15 1 1 1 0 17

24 MURDOCK, Ben........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 10

45 TAVERNARI, Jonathan. 4-4 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 1 8 1 1 0 1 15

50 MACGREGOR, Gavin.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5

TEAM................ 1 1

Totals.............. 32-54 9-16 12-18 9 27 36 20 85 18 11 4 8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-28 50.0% 2nd Half: 18-26 69.2% Game: 59.3% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 5-10 50.0% 2nd Half: 4-6 66.7% Game: 56.3% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 4-9 44.4% 2nd Half: 8-9 88.9% Game: 66.7% 1

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Officials: Scott Thornley, Bill Gracey, Darron George

Technical fouls: Utah Utes-None. BYU Cougars-None.

Attendance: 22812

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Utah Utes..................... 26 36 - 62

BYU Cougars................... 37 48 - 85

Attendance: season high; second sellout of year (previous was 22700)

Points in the paint-UT 20,BY 40. Points off turnovers-UT 9,BY 10.

2nd chance points-UT 6,BY 10. Fast break points-UT 4,BY 8.

Bench points-UT 12,BY 34. Score tied-2 times. Lead changes-5 times.

Tags: Results

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