Cougars Knock off First-place Air Force 67-61

Mark Bigelow made several clutch shots to share game-high scoring honors of 21 points with Rafael Araujo. The Cougars shot 82 percent in the second half, making all 13 of their attempts inside the three-point arc. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- In a clash of two Mountain West Conference heavyweights, the BYU men's basketball team kept its perfect home season intact Monday night, knocking off first-place Air Force 67-61 at the Marriott Center.

The Cougars' sluggish offense came to life late in the second half behind stellar performances from seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo. Bigelow scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 1:11 that sealed the win and moved him into eighth place on BYU's all-time scoring list. Araujo was a goliath in the paint, also notching 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field.

"Bigelow and Araujo played excellent games for us tonight," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "It was a great college game for both teams."

The win pushes the Cougars' winning streak to six games and improves their record to 18-7 (8-4 in the MWC). The Falcons fell to 19-5 (9-2 MWC).

Monday's contest was bound to be a fierce battle between two titans. The Cougars came in riding a five-game winning streak, and the Falcons, coming off a win against Utah on Saturday, were 9-1 in conference play. BYU has been almost unbeatable at home and extended its winning streak to 17 in a row at the Marriott Center. The Cougars have won 61 out of their last 62 at home.

"Tonight the pressure was on them," Falcons head coach Joe Scott said. "They did a good job when they were down to come back."

In the first half BYU sprinted to an early 6-0 lead. However, poor shooting and foul trouble for Araujo kept the Cougars' offense sputtering. BYU ended the half trailing 26-23, shooting 0-4 on threes and 5-10 on free throws.

The second half started out in the same fashion until reserve guard Mike Rose hit a three-pointer six minutes in. His basket sparked a surge in the Cougar offense, with Bigelow tying the game at 41 on a baseline jumper with 11 minutes left. On the next possession, a driving lay-up by senior forward Jake Shoff gave BYU its first lead since the first half. The Cougars never trailed again.

Steady shooting down the stretch iced the game for BYU. The Cougars shot a season-high 64 percent from the field, including a lights-out 82.4 percent in the second half when the Cougars made all 13 of their attempts from inside the three-point arc. BYU also sank 15-of-18 foul shots in the second half.

BYU has historically dominated the match-up, taking 41 out of 50 games. However, times have changed as Air Force has emerged as a MWC powerhouse this season. The Falcons defeated the Cougars 74-52 on Jan. 24.

"In the past Air Force hasn't been as good as they are this year," Cleveland said. "But, this year they are hitting on all cylinders."

Nick Welch led the Falcons with 16 points, while Tim Keller scored 14 and Antoine Hood added 10.

Araujo was named MWC Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 19.5 points and 10 rebounds in wins over Colorado State and New Mexico.

BYU has a week to prepare for its final home game against Utah on March 1. The Cougars will tip off at 10 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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

Air Force Academy vs Brigham Young University

02/23/04 7:07 PM at Brigham Young University

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VISITORS: Air Force Academy 19-5, 9-2

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

10 KUHLE, A.J.......... f 3-6 3-4 0-1 1 0 1 1 9 0 3 0 0 39

33 GERLACH, Joel....... f 1-5 1-3 1-2 0 1 1 4 4 1 1 0 0 19

45 WELCH, Nick......... c 5-9 2-5 4-4 1 0 1 4 16 7 3 0 0 33

11 KELLER, Tim......... g 5-10 2-6 2-3 0 2 2 4 14 3 2 0 2 38

15 HOOD, Antoine....... g 4-8 1-3 1-3 3 4 7 4 10 3 2 0 3 37

05 McCRAW, Matt........ 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1

14 JENKINS, Marcus..... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

21 BURTSCHI, Jacob..... 2-4 0-2 0-2 3 1 4 2 4 0 2 0 1 21

34 NWAELELE, Dan....... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 4

42 BUCHANAN, Caleb..... 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 7

TEAM................ 1 1 2

Totals.............. 21-45 10-25 9-17 9 10 19 21 61 14 14 0 8 201

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-21 42.9% 2nd Half: 12-24 50.0% Game: 46.7% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 6-14 42.9% 2nd Half: 4-11 36.4% Game: 40.0% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 2-6 33.3% 2nd Half: 7-11 63.6% Game: 52.9% 3

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HOME TEAM: Brigham Young University 18-7, 8-4

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

01 HALL, Mike.......... f 1-4 0-2 5-8 0 3 3 5 7 2 1 1 1 32

03 BIGELOW, Mark....... f 7-10 0-2 7-7 1 2 3 1 21 5 3 0 1 38

41 MEADS, Garner....... f 1-2 0-0 1-3 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 16

55 ARAUJO, Rafael...... c 9-10 0-0 3-4 2 6 8 4 21 0 4 0 2 27

04 LEMES, Luiz......... g 1-2 0-0 2-2 0 1 1 2 4 3 1 0 1 29

00 WOODBERRY, Kevin.... 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 2 3 0 0 4 2 0 0 26

02 ROSE, Mike.......... 2-4 1-3 1-2 0 2 2 0 6 0 0 0 0 13

05 SHOFF, Jake......... 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 5 4 1 3 0 1 14

10 NASHIF, Terry....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+

52 JENSEN, Jared....... 0-0 0-0 1-2 1 1 2 1 1 0 2 0 0 5

TEAM................ 1 2 3

Totals.............. 23-36 1-8 20-28 6 21 27 19 67 15 16 1 6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-19 47.4% 2nd Half: 14-17 82.4% Game: 63.9% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 0-4 0.0% 2nd Half: 1-4 25.0% Game: 12.5% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 5-10 50.0% 2nd Half: 15-18 83.3% Game: 71.4% 4

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Officials: Dick Cartmell, Randy McCall, Ronnie Hernanedz

Technical fouls: Air Force Academy-None. Brigham Young University-None.

Attendance: 17152

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Air Force Academy............. 26 35 - 61

Brigham Young University...... 23 44 - 67

Points in the paint-AF 20,BY 32. Points off turnovers-AF 12,BY 19.

2nd chance points-AF 5,BY 7. Fast break points-AF 0,BY 4.

Bench points-AF 8,BY 11. Score tied-6 times. Lead changes-6 times.

Tags: Results