Cougars Solve Denver Press to Claim 81-58 Victory | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Cougars Solve Denver Press to Claim 81-58 Victory

DENVER -- Halftime adjustments fulfilled a two fold mission Saturday afternoon as BYU's men's basketball team defeated Denver University, 81-58.

Establishing post-play and attacking the Pioneers' game-long full-court press in the second half opened up a10-point BYU lead. That Cougar lead shrank to 48-44 before Mekeli Wesley took command as BYU improved to 3-1, while DU's record dropped to 1-2 before a crowd of 1,507.

Wesley hit back-to-back short bankers from the left and right sides with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Those bankers started his 14-point run and helped him finish with a game-high 26 points.

"Mekeli stepped his game up in the second half and that's why he's our captain," said BYU Coach Steve Cleveland. "We struggled in the first half to get the ball to him at the post."

Denver Coach Marty Fletcher lauded Wesley's efforts, too.

"I watched the Arizona game and Wesley was the best big man on the court," said Fletcher.

Eric Nielsen and Wesley opened the game with consecutive dunks as BYU's first 10 points all came from the inside. The first long bomb of the game for BYU came when Terrell Lyday hit a three-pointer to tie the Pioneers at 14-all with 13 minutes left in the half.

Wesley extended the lead to 28-21 when he got an easy lay-in off a Nathan Cooper pass. The junior center extended the lead to 57-46 with his first three-pointer, even though an offensive charge gave him his third foul with a minute gone in the second half. He gave BYU its 20-point lead off his second trey, 71-51. In between, Wesley converted a pair of break away steals on the DU end of the court for solo layups and added a key blocked shot.

Wesley and Cooper were BYU catalysts in the first half. Cooper converted a Wesley missed field goal to give BYU a 24-19 lead, hit his second field goal to put BYU up 30-23, drained a shot with the shot clock nearly expired, and scored BYU's last field goal of the half off a missed free throw by Silester Rivers with 39 seconds left. The Cougars led 38-33 at halftime.

The Cougars shot 49 percent from the field in the first half despite a one for eight performance beyond the three-point arc and ended shooting 52 percent for the game.

"We made an adjustment to their press in the second half," said Cleveland. "By attacking it we got more scoring opportunities."

With five seconds expired in the second half a scoreless Michael Vranes drove a layup home. He helped limit DU's Arthur Ireland to six points, 21 below Ireland's game-high 27 when BYU beat the Pioneers last year in Provo.

"I challenged Michael at halftime in front of the team and he responded," said Cleveland. Vranes came up with three more assists and four of his team-high seven rebounds in the second half.

Tom Starkey gave Denver brief hope when he connected on a three-pointer and the ensuing free throw following a cooper Foul. That 48-44 score favoring BYU remained until Wesley hit his back-to-back bankers.

"I was content to just beat their press in the first half, then we decided to attack it," said Cleveland. "We told the team to reverse it to put the ball in Michael (Vranes) and Terrell's (Lyday) hands."

Lyday scored nine of his 12 points in the second half, including finishing a fast break with Vranes to put BYU up 61-48 with just under eight minutes left in the game. Teammate Matt Montague tied Vranes in dishing out six assists.

"We came out tense and flat so we had to find ourselves again," said Lyday. "They slowed us down at first because we hadn't seen a press this year, but we figured it out."

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

Brigham Young vs Denver Pioneers

12/4/99 1 p.m. at Magness Arena Denver, Colorado

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VISITORS: Brigham Young 3-1

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... f 12-19 2-3 0-0 0 7 7 3 26 1 0 2 3 27

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 4-8 0-1 0-0 0 5 5 3 8 0 0 0 0 28

13 VRANES, Michael..... g 3-8 0-2 0-2 3 4 7 1 6 6 1 0 0 27

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 4-9 2-5 2-2 1 2 3 2 12 4 2 0 0 33

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... g 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 3 3 1 2 6 0 0 1 28

02 RIVERS, Silester.... 2-7 0-0 1-3 6 3 9 3 5 1 3 0 2 20

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 4-5 2-3 0-0 0 0 0 2 10 0 0 0 2 14

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

33 SMITH, Morgan....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

40 HOWARD, Dan......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

42 COOPER, Nathan...... 4-7 0-1 0-1 3 1 4 4 8 2 0 0 0 16

50 NIELSEN, David...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

TEAM................ 5 5

Totals.............. 35-68 6-16 5-10 14 30 44 19 81 21 7 2 8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 18-37 .486 2nd Half: 17-31 .548 Game: .515 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 1-8 .125 2nd Half: 5-8 .625 Game: .375 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 1-3 .333 2nd Half: 4-7 .571 Game: .500 0,2

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HOME TEAM: Denver Pioneers 1-2

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

11 STARKEY, Tom........ f 2-7 2-5 1-1 1 2 3 2 7 1 1 1 0 29

33 CARTER, Wahhab...... f 6-12 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0 12 2 1 0 0 22

54 WILCOX, Brandt...... c 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 8

10 CHURCH, Ty.......... g 0-4 0-2 0-0 1 3 4 0 0 5 0 0 0 31

23 IRELAND, Arthur..... g 2-15 0-7 2-3 3 4 7 1 6 4 4 0 0 33

13 PAUL, Matt.......... 2-2 1-1 0-1 1 0 1 1 5 0 0 0 1 6

15 TURNER, Tyrone...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5

22 HEATH, Phillip...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2

24 OVERTON, Kevin...... 2-8 0-1 3-4 1 4 5 4 7 1 3 1 0 21

3 PRATT, B.J.......... 3-5 2-3 5-7 1 0 1 3 13 0 3 0 0 17

40 SIMMONS, Steve...... 3-5 0-0 2-4 5 6 11 2 8 0 0 2 0 26

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

Totals.............. 20-58 5-19 13-21 14 21 35 13 58 14 14 5 1 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-33 .394 2nd Half: 7-25 .280 Game: .345 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-8 .375 2nd Half: 2-11 .182 Game: .263 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 4-7 .571 2nd Half: 9-14 .643 Game: .619 0,3

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Officials: RICK JONES, JIM DANNER, KELLY GROOM

Technical fouls: Brigham Young-None. Denver Pioneers-None.

Attendance: 1507

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Brigham Young................. 38 43 - 81

Denver Pioneers............... 33 25 - 58