Cougars Host UC Irvine Wednesday in the Marriott Center | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Cougars Host UC Irvine Wednesday in the Marriott Center

PROVO -- After going 2-1 in three road games and traveling to both the East and West coasts, BYU will play at home Wednesday against Steve Cleveland's alma mater, UC Irvine. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM with KSL's Greg Wrubell and former Cougar Mark Durrant calling the action. After Wednesday's game, the Cougars will take to the road again for their final non-conference game Saturday at Utah State and their first Mountain West Conference game Monday at UNLV.

Quick Facts

BYU (9-2) vs. UC Irvine (6-3)

Wednesday, Jan. 5 • Marriott Center (22,700) • Provo, Utah • 7 p.m. Mountain

BYU Coach: Steve Cleveland

Record at BYU: 30-39 (3rd year)

Overall Div. I record: Same

UC Irvine Coach: Pat Douglass

Record at UC Irvine: 21-41 (3rd year)

Overall Div. I record: Same

Series Record: 1-1

Game Time: 7 p.m. Mountain

Broadcast Plans

Radio:

Network: Cougar Sports Network

Station: KSL Newsradio 1160 AM

Air Time: 7:30 p.m. Mountain

Play-by-play: Greg Wrubell

Commentary: Mark Durrant

Coach Cleveland Quote

"Last year's game at Irvine was one of the most disappointing games I've had. We never got things going. Coach Pat Douglass is in his third year at Irvine and is rebuilding their program. They have a 6-3 record and are one of the better teams in the Big West this year. Their point guard Jerry Green is a very solid player. They will be very prepared for this game."

Scouting UC Irvine

The Anteaters of the Big West Conference are 6-3 this year, including 4-1 at home and 1-2 on the road. They have home wins over Southwest Texas (69-46), Saint Mary's (67-59), Western Washington (86-55), Humboldt State (89-65) and St. Francis of New York (67-57) and a road win at Loyola Marymount (69-59). UCI's losses were versus San Diego (75-62) and at Oklahoma (80-68) and California (88-61). The Anteaters have won their last two games and five of their last six. UCI is led by sophomore point guard Jerry Green (6-3), who averages 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Forward Marek Ondera (6-7, Sr.) adds 10.8 points and a team-leading 6.4 rebounds. They also led last year's team with 12.8 and 11.1 averages. This year's Anteater team returns all five starters from last year's 6-20 squad that earned a win over BYU (82-75) in Irvine. Seven newcomers help make this year's UCI team a much improved product. Among them, transfers Sean Jackson (California) and J.R. Christ (Hutchinson (KS) Community College) are playing 27 and 19 minutes, respectively, and are averaging 8.2 and 7.6 points per game.

Series Notes

This will be the third meeting between BYU and UC Irvine. The series is tied 1-1 with UCI defeating BYU last year in Irvine, 82-75. BYU won the first meeting, a 93-80 win in Provo in the second round of the 1986 NIT.

Last Meeting

The Cougars and Anteaters met last Dec. 22 at the Bren Events Center in Irvine with UCI defeating BYU 82-75 in Cougar Coach Steve Cleveland's return to his alma mater. The Anteaters out shot BYU 48 percent to 43 percent, including 10-21 treys (.476) -- the best percentage of any BYU opponent last year. UCI pulled down 37 rebounds to BYU's 33 and the Cougars committed 19 turnovers to UCI's 15. Silester Rivers led a BYU run in the second half that came up short, scoring all of his team-high 20 points in the final half. Nathan Cooper had 10 rebounds and freshman Mark Bigelow a team-best five assists. BYU, led by Rivers' inside play in the second half (10 FTs), made a season-high 30 free throws. Point guard Jerry Green led UC Irvine with 22 points.

BYU TEAM NOTABLES

Cougar Start among Best in Past 20 Years

BYU has achieved a 9-2 record for only the fifth time in the past 20 years and is off to its best start since 1991-92 when the Cougars also started the season with a 9-2 mark. BYU has started 10-2 or better only three times in the last 20 years (80-81, 87-88, 91-92). BYU's best start was a 17-0 beginning to the 1987-88 season that had the Cougars, ranked No. 2 and coming off an 82-64 win over Utah, poised to overtake the No. 1 spot in the nation before an upset loss at Alabama-Birmingham.

Streaks

BYU has a two-game win streak and has won seven of its last eight. BYU's longest win streak of the year was five games. BYU's wins over Florida International and UC Santa Barbara are the first back-to-back non-conference road wins since the 1991-92 season. The two road wins also represent the first time BYU has won two straight road games since defeating San Diego State and Hawaii last year (the only time the Cougars accomplished the feat last year). BYU is a perfect 6-0 at home this year and has won seven consecutive times at home including last year's regular season-ending win over UTEP (85-64). All seven wins have been by double-digit margins.

Cleveland vs. the Big West

Since Steve Cleveland took over the helm at BYU, the Cougars have played five games against Big West teams and have a 2-3 record. The Cougars are 1-0 this year after defeating UC Santa Barbara last week, 57-48. BYU is 1-1 against Utah State and 0-1 against both Boise State and UC Irvine. Last year the Cougars split with Big West teams, winning at home against Utah State and falling on the road at Cleveland's alma mater UC Irvine. After Wednesday's home game with UC Irvine, the Cougars will play their third straight Big West opponent when they travel to Logan for a road contest with Utah State on Saturday.

Playing at Home

BYU is a perfect 6-0 at home this year. The Cougars are averaging 79.8 ppg in the Marriott Center and a whopping 21.5-point margin of victory. After shooting less than 30 percent at UC Santa Barbara last week, BYU hopes coming home will also mark a return to its normally good shooting percentages. BYU is making 51 percent of its shots, including 41 percent of its three-point attempts, in the Marriott Center this year. The Cougars are pulling down 39 rebounds per game while out boarding their opponents by more than five caroms per game at home.

Numbers on the Road

BYU is 3-2 on the road this year, having already earned one more win in the opponent's home arena than all of last year (2-10 in true away games). The Cougars are scoring 69.2 for a 3.0 scoring margin. On the road, BYU is shooting .415, including .410 on threes, and .679 from the free throw line. BYU is being out rebounded 37.8-35.2 in its five away games. Mekeli Wesley averaged 17.3 points and six rebounds while leading BYU to a 2-1 record on a road trip that included stops on the East and West coasts.

Last Time Out

A strong defensive effort helped BYU overcome its worst offensive performance of the year in a 57-48 road win at UC Santa Barbara. The Cougars set season lows in five offensive categories, including points scored (57) and field goal percentage (.296), buy they came up with 11 steals as part of a solid defensive performance and Mekeli Wesley (24 points) and Todd Christensen (13 points) provided enough offense to hold off the Gauchos. A Christensen four-point play and Wesley three-point play gave the Cougars seven points in less than a minute and their first lead at 15-13. Christensen made two jumpers, the last at the halftime buzzer, between an Eric Nielsen layup to give BYU a 21-16 halftime edge.Wesley scored 16 second-half points on his way to a 24-point night. He was the only starter to score for BYU in the first half. Lyday finished with eight points while Vranes and Montague added three points each. Rivers did not score. Vranes and Lyday struggled with 1-9 and 2-11 nights, respectively, but Vranes led the Cougars with three assists and nine rebounds (tying a career high), while Lyday stole a career-high six passes. The Gauchos shot 40 percent from the floor and out rebounded the Cougars 41-36 but never took the lead in the second half.

The UCSB Low Down

In BYU's win over UC Santa Barbara Wednesday, the Cougars set season lows in points scored (57), points scored in the first half (21), field goal percentage (.296), field goals made (16), three-point percentage (.250) and three-point field goals made (4). One near low was a good sign for the Cougars as their 11 turnovers was the second best outing of the year after a seven turnover game at Denver. BYU's 11 steals was also its second best theft game behind the 12 steals they came up with the game before at Florida International. But for the Cougars, a few negatives equaled a positive as a solid defensive effort led BYU to its ninth win of the year, despite the offensive woes.

BYU's record when . . .

BYU leads at half 8-0

Opponent leads at half 0-2

Score tied at half 1-0

BYU leads with 5 minutes left 8-1

Opponent leads with 5 min. left 0-1

BYU leads with 1 minute left 8-0

Opponent leads with 1 min. left 1-2

Score tied with 1 minute left 0-0

Game goes into overtime 1-0

BYU out rebounds opponent 7-0

Opponent out rebounds BYU 2-2

BYU and opponent tie in rebounds 0-0

BYU shoots 50 % or better 5-0

Opponent shoots 50 % or better 0-1

BYU out shoots opponent 8-0

BYU PLAYER NOTABLES

Mekeli Wesley

Mekeli had six rebounds and scored a game-high 24 points, 16 in the second half, at UCSB -- the seventh time in nine games he has scored 20 or more points. He had eight points and seven rebounds at Florida International. He had a game-high 20 points at South Alabama. He is averaging a team-leading 19.0 ppg and 6.2 rebounds per game. He averaged 21 points and nine 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). After averaging three rebounds per game in first three contests, he has averaged 7.4 over the last eight. He recorded his first double-double of the year (fourth of career) with 24 points and 10 rebounds in win over Texas Southern. He scored a season-high 26 points in back-to-back games this year versus Denver and Arizona State (scored 31 points twice as a freshman).

Terrell Lyday

Lyday had career-best six steals at UCSB, despite off night scoring (2-11 for eight points and held scoreless in the first half for the first time this year). He scored a career-best 26 points at FIU to match Mekeli Wesley for season-high honors. He has scored in double figures in nine of BYU's 11 games. He 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 Dec. 10-11 and is showing why he was recruited by Coach Steve Cleveland out of Fresno City College to help replace production lost by the LDS Church mission departure of freshman sensation Mark Bigelow (15 ppg last year). Lyday averages 14.5 points and team-high 31.7 minutes. He scored 18 points against Arizona and had 17 vs. ASU. He has made a team-high 22 three pointers (22-54, .407). Last year he made more than 100 treys for Fresno City College.

Silester Rivers

Rivers started his second straight game against UCSB but was 0-2 with four rebounds in 17 minutes. He played a season-high 31 minutes in his first start at FIU and had double-double 10 points and season-high 11 rebounds. He scored eight points in 12 minutes at South Alabama. He scored game- and season-high 17 points against South Carolina State. Coming off the bench in the first nine games he averaged 8.8 ppg and is 4.3 rebounds. Overall he averages 8.1 ppg and 4.7 rpg. He has a team-high 20 offensive boards and is shooting a team-best 56.6 percent (FG). He has scored in double figures five times this year and has led the team in rebounds three times (6 vs. UC Riverside, 9 at Denver, 11 at FIU).

Michael Vranes

Vranes matched a career high with a team-best nine rebounds at UCSB. He also had team-high three assists despite three points on 1-9 shooting. He is 15-32 (.467) on treys - second to Christensen. He scored eight of his 12 points in overtime at FIU. He totalled 10 points, six rebounds and a season-high seven assists vs. South Carolina State. He had a season-high 15 points along with five rebounds vs. Weber State. He is second on the team with 3.2 assists per game from his shooting guard spot (averaged 2.9 last year as point guard). He is pulling down 4.4 rebounds per game and is third on the team in scoring at 8.4 ppg. He has made a trey in seven of 11 games. He has scored in double figures in four games, including three of the last five.

Matt Montague

Montague did not take a shot but made three clutch free throws down the stretch at UCSB. He had two points, four rebounds and eight assists in team- and personal career-high 41 minutes at FIU. He shared team-high five rebounds with Wesley at South Alabama while handing out four assists. He matched his season high with five points vs. South Carolina State and made his second three-pointer of the year (2-6 on the season). After receiving stitches to repair a cut above his eye against ASU, Montague returned and led BYU on a 14-1 run. The only true point guard on the roster, he has team-leading 53 assists (4.8 apg). He dished out a season-high nine assists vs. Weber State and helped hold Wildcat guard Eddie Gill to 2-14 shooting.

Eric Nielsen

Nielsen came off the bench in the last two games after starting the first nine games. At UCSB, he had three points and equaled a career-best seven rebounds (2 points, 2 rebounds, 16 minutes at FIU). He was married to BYU All-American volleyball player Anna-Lena Smith Dec. 30 in Mesa, Ariz. . He had eight points at South Alabama. A returned LDS missionary to Russia, the sophomore is averaging 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds. He averaged 5.4 points (52.8 percent) and 4.0 rebounds in 24.6 minutes as a starter in the first nine games. He makes 50 percent of his attempts. After scoring 10 and 12 points in first two games, he has not reached double digits in the past nine outings.

Nathan Cooper

Cooper 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 three points and three boards. He had five points, six rebound effort at FIU. He set a career high with seven assists at South Alabama. He is coming off the bench this year after starting 23 of BYU's 28 games last year. He scored a season- and team-high 15 points against Weber State, the third time he has reached double figures. He is averaging 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 20 minutes and making 40 percent of his shots and team-best 26 of 30 free throws (.867). After not making a trey in the first five games, he has made at least one in four the last six (0-1 at UCSB).

Todd Christensen

Christensen scored 13 points, including a four-point play at UCSB. In the last two games he is 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 points in the first half at FIU (4-5 treys in 11 minutes). He had season-best three assists at South Alabama in 12 minutes. He is sharing point guard duties after playing shooting guard most of last year. He had a season-high 16 points, including 5-8 threes, vs. South Carolina State. Scored 10 at Denver. Regarded as the best shooter on the team, Christensen has made 25-46 attempts (.543), including 18-37 (team-best .486) from behind the arc. Averages 7.0 ppg in 15 minutes.

Comparing Statistics

BYU UCI

SCORING

Points per game .75.0 70.9

Scoring margin + 13.1 + 6.0

SHOOTING PERCENTAGES

Field goals .466 .425

3-pointers .411 .329

Free throws .704 .765

REBOUNDING

Rebounds per game .37.3 .37.4

Rebounding margin + 1.6 + 0.7

ASSISTS

Assists per game 16.5 12.7

TURNOVERS

Turnovers per game 14.1 14.2

Turnover margin + 1.7 + 1.0

BLOCKS

Blocks per game 1.9 3.3

STEALS

Steals per game 7.6 6.8

BYU Combined Team Statistics (as of Jan 03, 2000)

All games

DATE OPPONENT W/L SCORE ATTEND

------------ -------------------- --- ----- ------

11/20/99 CALIFORNIA-RIVERSIDE W 91-62 7546

11/24/99 SOUTHERN UTAH W 92-64 4518

12-1-99 at Arizona L 62-86 14345

12/4/99 at Denver W 81-58 1507

12/7/99 ARIZONA STATE W 78-67 5867

Dec 10, 1999 TEXAS SOUTHERN W 76-61 6541

12/11/99 WEBER STATE W 66-53 9862

12/18/99 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE W 76-43 7584

12-21-99 at South Alabama L 63-64 1785

12/21/99 at Fla International W OT 83-75 953

12-29-99 at UC Santa Barbara W 57-48 2891

* denotes conference game

RECORD: OVERALL HOME AWAY NEUTRAL

ALL GAMES........... (9-2) (6-0) (3-2) (0-0)

CONFERENCE.......... (0-0) (0-0) (0-0) (0-0)

NON-CONFERENCE...... (9-2) (6-0) (3-2) (0-0)

## SUMMARY GP-GS Min FG% 3PT% FT% R/G A/G STL BLK PTS/G

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15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... 11-11 29.4 .529 .389 .757 6.2 1.6 16 4 19.0

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... 11-11 31.7 .439 .407 .698 3.5 1.8 19 3 14.5

13 VRANES, Michael..... 11-11 24.7 .415 .469 .500 4.4 3.2 9 0 8.4

02 RIVERS, Silester.... 11-2 18.0 .566 .000 .617 4.7 0.6 9 5 8.1

42 COOPER, Nathan...... 11-0 20.1 .400 .294 .867 3.5 2.5 5 1 7.2

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 11-0 15.4 .543 .486 .692 0.7 1.0 8 1 7.0

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... 11-9 23.5 .500 .000 .600 4.1 0.5 7 5 4.9

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... 11-11 28.6 .269 .333 .750 3.5 4.8 9 0 2.5

05 ROBERTS, Marc....... 6-0 5.0 .400 .000 .833 0.7 0.3 0 1 1.5

50 NIELSEN, David...... 5-0 3.8 .250 .000 .857 0.6 0.2 1 0 1.6

10 ALLEN, John......... 6-0 3.7 .667 .000 .667 1.0 0.2 1 0 1.0

40 HOWARD, Dan......... 4-0 4.8 1.000 .000 .000 2.0 0.0 0 0 1.5

33 SMITH, Morgan....... 5-0 2.6 .125 .000 1.000 0.6 0.2 0 0 1.2

34 ELLSWORTH, Joe...... 3-0 2.0 .333 .000 .000 1.0 0.0 0 1 0.7

20 TAGGART, Nick....... 3-0 1.7 .000 .000 .000 0.0 0.0 0 0 0.0

Total............... 11 .466 .411 .704 37.2 16.5 84 21 75.0

Opponents........... 11 .365 .276 .690 35.6 12.4 75 27 61.9

SCORING GP FG-FGA FG% 3FG-FGA 3PT% FT-FTA FT% PTS PTS/G

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WESLEY, Mekeli...... 11 73-138 .529 7-18 .389 56-74 .757 209 19.0

LYDAY, Terrell...... 11 54-123 .439 22-54 .407 30-43 .698 160 14.5

VRANES, Michael..... 11 34-82 .415 15-32 .469 9-18 .500 92 8.4

RIVERS, Silester.... 11 30-53 .566 0-1 .000 29-47 .617 89 8.1

COOPER, Nathan...... 11 24-60 .400 5-17 .294 26-30 .867 79 7.2

CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 11 25-46 .543 18-37 .486 9-13 .692 77 7.0

NIELSEN, Eric....... 11 21-42 .500 0-2 .000 12-20 .600 54 4.9

MONTAGUE, Matt...... 11 7-26 .269 2-6 .333 12-16 .750 28 2.5

ROBERTS, Marc....... 6 2-5 .400 0-0 .000 5-6 .833 9 1.5

NIELSEN, David...... 5 1-4 .250 0-0 .000 6-7 .857 8 1.6

ALLEN, John......... 6 2-3 .667 0-0 .000 2-3 .667 6 1.0

HOWARD, Dan......... 4 3-3 1.000 0-0 .000 0-2 .000 6 1.5

SMITH, Morgan....... 5 1-8 .125 0-1 .000 4-4 1.000 6 1.2

ELLSWORTH, Joe...... 3 1-3 .333 0-0 .000 0-1 .000 2 0.7

TAGGART, Nick....... 3 0-0 .000 0-0 .000 0-0 .000 0 0.0

Total............... 11 278-596 .466 69-168 .411 200-284 .704 825 75.0

Opponents........... 11 237-649 .365 51-185 .276 156-226 .690 681 61.9

REBOUNDS

TOTALS GP MIN OFF DEF TOT PF FO A TO A/TO HI

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

WESLEY, Mekeli...... 11 323 16 52 68 32 0 18 17 1.1 26

LYDAY, Terrell...... 11 349 3 35 38 20 0 20 25 0.8 26

VRANES, Michael..... 11 272 15 33 48 21 1 35 22 1.6 15

RIVERS, Silester.... 11 198 20 32 52 33 0 7 17 0.4 17

COOPER, Nathan...... 11 221 13 26 39 27 1 27 11 2.5 15

CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 11 169 0 8 8 18 0 11 9 1.2 16

NIELSEN, Eric....... 11 258 14 31 45 31 1 6 11 0.5 12

MONTAGUE, Matt...... 11 315 4 34 38 14 0 53 28 1.9 5

ROBERTS, Marc....... 6 30 1 3 4 2 0 2 5 0.4 4

NIELSEN, David...... 5 19 1 2 3 4 0 1 3 0.3 6

ALLEN, John......... 6 22 0 6 6 2 0 1 1 1.0 2

HOWARD, Dan......... 4 19 3 5 8 4 0 0 2 0.0 6

SMITH, Morgan....... 5 13 1 2 3 0 0 1 2 0.5 2

ELLSWORTH, Joe...... 3 6 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 2

TAGGART, Nick....... 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0

Total............... 11 2219 108 301 409 208 3 182 155 1.2 92

Opponents........... 11 2227 147 245 392 227 - 136 174 0.8 86

TEAM STATISTICS BY OPP

--------------------------------------------------------

SCORING....................... 825 681

Points per game............. 75.0 61.9

Scoring margin.............. +13.1 -

FIELD GOALS-ATT............... 278-596 237-649

Field goal pct.............. .466 .365

3 POINT FG-ATT................ 69-168 51-185

3-point FG pct.............. .411 .276

3-pt FG made per game....... 6.3 4.6

FREE THROWS-ATT............... 200-284 156-226

Free throw pct.............. .704 .690

REBOUNDS...................... 409 392

Rebounds per game........... 37.2 35.6

Rebounding margin........... +1.5 -

ASSISTS....................... 182 136

Assists per game............ 16.5 12.4

TURNOVERS..................... 155 174

Turnovers per game.......... 14.1 15.8

Turnover margin............. +1.7 -

Assist/turnover ratio....... 1.2 0.8

STEALS........................ 84 75

Steals per game............. 7.6 6.8

BLOCKS........................ 21 27

Blocks per game............. 1.9 2.5

WINNING STREAK................ 2 -

Home win streak............. 6 -

ATTENDANCE.................... 41918 21481

Home games-Avg/Game......... 6-6986 5-4296

Neutral site-Avg/Game....... - 0-0

BY PERIOD 1st 2nd OT Total

------------ ---- ---- ---- ----

Team........ 381 430 14 - 825

Opponents... 316 359 6 - 681