Cougars rout Salukis, Irish up Next | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Cougars rout Salukis, Irish up Next

A sign in the student section read, "Marriott Magic is Back, Cleve for President." The scene following BYU's 82-57 win over Southern Illinois looked like BYU coach Steve Cleveland might just have earned his way into the White House, or atPROVO -- A sign in the student section read, "Marriott Magic is Back, Cleve for President." The scene following BYU's 82-57 win over Southern Illinois looked like BYU coach Steve Cleveland might just have earned his way into the White House, or at least led his team into the NCAA Final Four.

Cleveland and his team made a curtain call for the huge crowd of 16,949, then the Cougars hoisted the coach on their shoulders.

"I was a little uncomfortable with that," Cleveland said. "What really means a lot to me ... is that they [the fans] need something to believe in and something to have faith in and I think we might have turned the corner tonight."

Those were bold words and a powerful scene considering it was merely a econd-round victory in the National Invitation Tournament. But then again, 22 wins and a third postseason game this season is quite an accomplishment for a program that was basically left for dead at 1-25 just three seasons ago.

"I want to thank the crowd for being here. Maybe in a small way, we were able to recapture some of the magic that we have enjoyed here in past years," Cleveland said.

Things get serious for the Cougars now. The no-name schools are out of the way -- Bowling Green and the Salukis of Southern Illinois -- and it's on to brand-name college athletics: Notre Dame.

"Obviously, we have our work cut out for us in the next game. But this is what it's all about. No matter what happens at Notre Dame, we have done what we have to to get there," Cleveland said.

Many of the nearly 17,000 in attendance likely came with the hopes of earning the Cougars another NIT home game. But tournament officials made the decision that Wednesday night's quarterfinal game would be hosted by Notre Dame, an announcement that was made to fans with 3:39 to play and met with plenty of boos.

The Irish defeated Xavier 76-64 earlier in the evening. Game time will not be set until Tuesday morning. The Cougars are 0-3 against Notre Dame on the road. A win on Wednesday would mean a trip to Madison Square Garden in New York for the NIT Final Four.

BYU earned its trip to South Bend, Ind. with yet another punishing defensive effort. The Cougars held their opponent below 50 percent from the field for the sixth time in seven games. The Salukis shot just 29 percent (15-of-52) for the game, with 22 turnovers. BYU, on the other hand, managed 52 percent from the field and had four players in double figures.

"We didn't play a perfect basketball game. In fact, at times it was a little dysfunctional," Cleveland said. "But we did what we had to do. The thing that we did is that we did guard."

Terrell Lyday led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Mekeli Wesley's 16. The Salukis struggled with Wesley all night, but seemed to get a huge break when Wesley picked up his fourth personal foul early in the second half.

"I was really excited for the guys because a lot of guys off the bench really stepped up," Wesley said.

BYU, which had found some much-needed depth in recent games, had 22 points off the bench on Monday, led by David Nielsen's 8 points.

"When we got Wesley in foul trouble, we were very happy because they don't have very much depth," Southern Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.

Lyday immediately hit a jumper to put the Cougars up 41-30. But after Michael Vranes, who finished with 13 points, hit 1-of-2 shots from the line, SIU freshman Kent Williams drilled back-to-back treys. A 3-pointer from Lyday and a jumper from the corner by David Nielsen put BYU back up 11 points with 13:37 to play.

The game hovered around the 10-point margin until Vranes' tip-in with 7:26 to play put the Cougars up 58-45. A bucket by Jermaine Dearman cut it back to 11, but 3-pointers from Vranes and Lyday in the next minute pushed the lead to an insurmountable 15 points.

It was pretty much garbage time from then on, highlighted by a pair of dunks by former Timpview star Mark Roberts. Roberts had a big one-handed breakaway,

Then a reverse dunk on the baseline as time ran out.

"He's really got live legs; he does that in practice all the time," Wesley said.

But the game likely shouldn't have been as competitive as it was. Despite solid first-half defense, the Cougars couldn't quite seem to shake the Salukis. BYU led 34-26 at the break, but Southern Illinois shot a dismal 26 percent for the half in addition to a dozen turnovers.

At one point in the half, the Salukis had converted just 3-of-12 field goals, but still only trailed by 12 points. The only saving grace for SIU was its free-throw shooting -- 9-of-11 in the opening half -- and defensive effort.

The Salukis held BYU to a respectable 45.5 percent from the floor, but the big stat was turnovers. SIU forced 11 Cougar turnovers.

"We had so many open looks in the first half ... had we made those, the game might have been over in the first half," Cleveland said.

That didn't matter much to the fans in the moments following the game. The magic was back, after all.

"We need to take the next step," Cleveland said. "But the foundation has been laid."

least led his team into the NCAA Final Four.

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

Southern Illinois vs BYU (3/20/00)

VISITORS: Southern Illinois

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

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

32 THUNELL, Chris...... f 2 11 0 2 4 4 2 6 8 2 8 2 0 0 0 25

33 WILLIAMS, Kent...... f 4 12 4 7 5 6 1 3 4 1 17 1 0 0 1 33

42 TILMON, Derrick..... c 2 5 0 0 1 2 2 1 3 4 5 0 2 1 0 19

03 MELLS, Brandon...... g 0 5 0 3 2 2 0 0 0 3 2 0 6 0 2 19

05 COLLUM, Ricky....... g 1 5 1 4 0 0 0 1 1 3 3 2 3 0 2 37

12 CROSS, Joshua....... 0 3 0 0 3 4 3 4 7 2 3 0 4 0 1 18

13 KORN, Brad.......... 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3

14 BROWN, Lance........ 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 1 3

23 DEARMAN, Jermaine... 4 7 0 0 2 6 3 1 4 3 10 0 3 0 2 20

25 DREW, Chris......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

40 CARNEY, David....... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1

44 WARD, Jason......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

45 SCHRADER, Abel...... 1 3 0 2 3 4 0 3 3 2 5 1 4 0 0 20

TM TEAM................ 1 5 6

Totals.............. 15 52 6 19 21 30 13 24 37 20 57 7 22 1 9 200

TOTAL FG%: .288 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG%: .316 REBOUNDS

F Throw %: .700 6

HOME TEAM: BYU

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

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

15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... f 7 10 1 2 1 2 2 7 9 4 16 1 3 1 1 24

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 5 6 0 0 0 1 0 5 5 4 10 0 1 0 1 23

42 COOPER, Nathan...... f 0 2 0 1 2 2 2 3 5 0 2 3 1 0 0 20

13 VRANES, Michael..... g 4 7 3 5 2 4 2 4 6 4 13 5 5 1 3 31

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 8 19 2 6 1 2 1 4 5 1 19 2 2 0 2 32

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 2 5 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 0 1 0 1 16

05 ROBERTS, Marc....... 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 1 3

10 ALLEN, John......... 1 3 0 0 0 2 1 2 3 3 2 0 0 1 0 6

20 TAGGART, Nick....... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... 0 2 0 0 2 4 0 0 0 2 2 10 1 0 0 21

34 ELLSWORTH, Joe...... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2

50 NIELSEN, David...... 3 6 0 0 2 2 3 0 3 2 8 2 0 0 0 19

TM TEAM................ 1 1

Totals.............. 32 62 8 18 10 19 11 27 38 24 82 23 15 3 9 199

TOTAL FG%: .516 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG%: .444 REBOUNDS

F Throw %: .526 4

Date: 3/20/00 Site: Provo, Utah Attendance: 16949

Officials:

Technical fouls: Southern Illinois-None. BYU-None.

Score by Periods 1 2 Total

Southern Illinois... 26 31 - 57

BYU................. 34 48 - 82

Imported from BYU-SIU.BXP

Game ID: SIU-BY