Game 12 - BYU Plays at Air Force Thursday

Jimmy Balderson (passing) and Trent Plaisted (No. 44) helped the Cougars to an 8-3 nonconference record. BYU opens MWC play at Air Force Thursday in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 starting at 9 p.m. MST. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

GAME #12 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (8-3, 0-0 MWC)

vs.

AIR FORCE ACADEMY FALCONS (12-1, 0-0 MWC)

Thursday, Jan. 5, 2005

Clune Arena (5,939)

USAFA, Colo.

9 p.m. MST

Coaches:

BYU, Dave Rose (8-3 in first year; same overall)

AFA, Jeff Bzdelik (12-1 in first year; 37-32 in third season overall)

Series:

BYU leads 42-11 after the Falcons swept the series last season

TV:

ESPN2 (Dave Revsine, play-by-play; Doug Gottlieb game analysis)

Radio:

KSL Newsradio (102,7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (8 p.m. pregame show -- Greg Wrubell, play-by-play; Russell Larson, game analysis)

Web:

Live audio and live stats broadcasts are available at www.byucougars.com/basketball_m/

BYU OPENS MWC AT AIR FORCE THURSDAY

BYU (8-3, 0-0 MWC) begins Mountain West Conference play at Air Force (12-1, 0-0 MWC) Thursday in a 9 p.m. nationally televised matchup on ESPN2. The Falcons have won 10 straight games and boast wins over the ACC's Miami and Georgia Tech during their nonconference schedule. Dave Revsine and Doug Gottlieb will call the game on ESPN2, while the radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network with Greg Wrubell and Russell Larson calling the play-by-play action.

UP NEXT

BYU hosts in-state rival Utah Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN+ (KJZZ-TV in Utah) in a quick turnaround after facing Air Force late on Thursday night.

COUGAR QUICK HITS

-- Coming off a disappointing 9-21 season after five straight postseason appearances, BYU looks to return to the ranks of conference contenders and postseason invitees under the direction of new head coach Dave Rose, who served the past eight seasons as Steve Cleveland's lead assistant. The Cougars are off to an 8-3 start this year.

-- BYU is 6-1 at home this year and has won six straight in the Marriott Center. The Cougars are 1-2 away and 1-0 at a neutral site. BYU averages an MWC-most 78.9 points and shoots .494 (second in the MWC) from the field, including .395 from long range and .665 from the line. Cougar opponents average 67.5 points on .417 shooting, .306 from three and .732 from the line. BYU pulls down 35.2 rebounds per game, 1.8 more rebounds per contest than its opponents. The Cougars dish out an MWC-leading 18.5 assists per game.

-- Redshirt freshman forward/center Trent Plaisted leads BYU in scoring (13.6), followed by senior guard Brock Reichner (10.2). Junior forward Keena Young is the top Cougar rebounder (5.5), followed by Plaisted (4.7). Junior point guard Rashaun Broadus is the MWC's top assist maker (5.1), followed by junior combo guard Austin Ainge (3.6), who ranks third. Eleven Cougars are logging 10 minutes or more per game

-- Among BYU's returning players, honorable mention All-MWC guard Austin Ainge was the team's second-leading scorer and top assist man last year, and forward Keena Young was BYU's leading rebounder. Other returners with starting experience last year include swingman Jimmy Balderson, who led Canada in scoring at the World University Games this summer; center Derek Dawes, who made 13 starts in the middle last year; and guard Mike Rose, who made seven starts last year and averaged 7.7 points while making a team-leading 56 treys. Lone senior Brock Reichner made two starts late last year after mostly limited action during the season.

LOOKING AT AIR FORCE

Under first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik, Air Force is off to the best start in school history after 13 games at 12-1. The Falcons boast neutral-court wins over Miami (57-53) and Georgia Tech (54-46) of the Atlantic Coast Conference, with the lone loss coming on the road at nationally ranked Washington (85-74) of the Pac-10 Conference. Air Force defeated Georgia Tech, 54-46, last Wednesday at the Colorado Springs World Arena. The Falcons won despite shooting 29.5 percent from the floor. Air Force won its 10th straight game on Saturday with a win over IPFW (77-42). Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik (Illinois-Chicago, 1976) has returned to the college game after 15 seasons as a coach and scout in the NBA, most recently as head coach of the Denver Nuggets. Bzdelik has a collegiate career record of 37-32. He returns three starters and 12 lettermen from last year's 18-12 team that placed third in the Mountain West Conference standings with a 9-5 record. Bzdelik is without the services of a preseason first-team All-MWC center Nick Welch, who was the league's co-Player of the Year in 2004. Welch will miss the entire season due to injury. Returning starters Antoine Hood (6-4 senior guard), Matt McCraw (6-2 junior guard) and Jacob Burtschi (6-6 junior forward) are each scoring in double figures this season at 15.3, 12.2 and 11.7 points per game, respectively. With the loss of regular Tim Keller to graduation, junior forward Dan Nwaelele has filled a starting role nicely as the team's second-leading scorer at 12.5 ppg. In place of Welch, junior center John Frye is averaging 6.7 points while shooting .604 from the field, including .647 (11-of-17) from behind the arc, and .783 from the line. Burtschi is the top Falcon rebounder (6.4), and leads four different Falcons with 30 or more assists with 37 (2.8 apg). The Falcons lead the MWC in scoring defense (52.3), scoring margin (+15.7), free-throw percentage (.771), three-point percentage (.424), three-point percentage defense (.305), steals (8.77), turnover margin (+5.46), assist/turnover ratio (1.39) and three-point field goals made (9.38).

AIR FORCE's PROBABLE STARTERS

Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG

F 21 Jacob Burtschi 6-6 225 Jr. 11.7 6.4

F 34 Dan Nwaelele 6-5 205 Jr. 12.5 2.5

C 54 John Frye 6-10 215 Jr. 6.7 3.8

G 5 Matt McCraw 6-2 185 Jr. 12.2 3.2

G 15 Antoine Hood 6-4 200 Sr. 15.3 3.8

AFA's LAST OUTING -- Burtschi, Nwaelele Lead Falcons to 10th Straight Win

Jacob Burtschi and Dan Nwaelele each scored 18 points and Burtschi grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds Saturday to lead the Air Force men's basketball team to a 77-42 victory over IPFW at Clune Arena. The Falcons claimed their 10th consecutive victory and are 12-1 entering Mountain West Conference play on Thursday vs. BYU. Burtschi had 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half as the Falcons shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) to take a 35-27 halftime advantage. Nwaelele added 10 points and Tim Anderson, making his first career start in place of Matt McCraw, who sprained his ankle in practice on Friday, tied his career-high with four assists in the opening 20 minutes. Anderson also finished with five points and a personal-best five rebounds. Air Force ran away in the second half, outscoring IPFW, 42-15, and holding the Mastodons to 24 percent shooting (6-of-25) in the half. IPFW did not score in the final 4:51 of the game. Justin Hawkins led the Mastodons (2-11) with 12 points and six rebounds, while Kyle Savely added 11 points and eight rebounds. Antoine Hood hit double figures for the 11th time in 13 games this season, scoring 12 points, while Andrew Henke added eight points and a career-high four rebounds. As Falcon coach Jeff Bzdelik emptied his bench in the final minutes, Eric Kenzik scored a career-high four points and Adam Hood made the first three-pointer of his career. The victory marks the Falcons' 25th straight at Clune Arena against non-conference opponents and they are 33-1 in their last 34 home games.

SERIES NOTES

This will be the 54th meeting between the two teams, with BYU leading the series 42-11. The Cougars are 21-4 in Provo, 18-6 at Air Force, and 3-1 at a neutral site. BYU has won eight of the 13 games in the series since the inception of the Mountain West Conference, but Air Force has won three of the last four meetings, including its first-ever season sweep in the series last year. AFA's current two-game winning streak is the first time the Falcons have managed consecutive victories over the Cougars since the first two games in 1961 and 1963. The Falcons handed BYU its largest margin of defeat in an MWC game at last year's meeting in Clune Arena, downing the Cougars 70-39. The Falcons defeated BYU by a margin of 22 points the prior meeting at Clune Arena in 2004 while shooting 72.5 percent, AFA's highest percentage ever against a Division I team. BYU has won nine of the last 15 outings since winning a series-best 15 straight over the Falcons from 1990-96. AFA's three-point win at the Marriott Center last year ended 13 straight Cougar wins in the Marriott Center since a 79-78 Falcon win in 1989.

MWC TITLES AND CLUNE ARENA

BYU has shared the Mountain West Conference regular-season crown twice -- 2001 and 2003 -- in the league's first six seasons. Those two BYU teams are also the only Cougar squads to win at Clune Arena as an MWC member as the Falcons have won four of the six MWC meetings at USAFA. BYU's last triumph at Clune was a 56-43 win in 2003. BYU also won 51-50 at Clune Arena in 2001. Junior center Rafael Araujo scored 31 points on 13-of-16 shooting in 2003 with nine rebounds to lead BYU to the win, while junior wing Mark Bigelow added 12 points. In 2001, senior center Mekeli Wesley scored 25 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and a 12-of-14 night at the line, while senior wing Terrell Lyday added 11 points. Araujo and Wesley are the last two Cougars to go on to earn All-America recognition. BYU's 2001 team also went on to win the MWC Tournament, including a quarterfinal win over the Falcons in Las Vegas. This year, BYU is led in scoring by a redshirt freshman center with considerable potential. Trent Plaisted is averaging 13.6 points and 4.7 rebounds. This will be his first game against the Falcons.

RECENT SERIES RECAPS

LAST YEAR IN PROVO -- FALCONS EDGE COUGARS

PROVO -- BYU fell to the Air Force Falcons, 52-49, Saturday afternoon. Keena Young played big for the Cougars, posting his first double-double of the season, tying his career-high with 14 points and grabbing a new career-high 11 rebounds. The Falcons jumped on the Cougars early in the first half, scoring the first 10 points of the game. Slowly the Cougars crawled their way back into the game, connecting on an 11-0 run of their own to take their first lead of the half 21-20. During that time, BYU held the Falcons scoreless for eight and half minutes. In the last few minutes of the half, late turnovers by BYU allowed the Falcons to regain a quick lead until Young, who led the Cougars in scoring at the half, scored on a tip-in with one second remaining to tie the game 29-29 at halftime. In the second half, both teams battled back and forth as neither team could pull away with a comfortable lead. The Cougars' largest lead of the half came at the 10 minute mark, with BYU on top by four, 43-39. Late in the second half, Jimmy Balderson delivered a two-point basket to bring the Cougars within one, 49-50. The next play down the floor, the Falcons missed a shot within the key and BYU's Young grabbed the rebound but the ball was stripped, leading to a Cougar foul. With 11 seconds left in the game, Air Force's Matt McCraw hit two clutch free throws to take a three point advantage. A desperation 3-pointer by Austin Ainge was not enough to secure the win. The Cougars' second-leading scorer was senior Mike Hall, who finished the game with 13 points. Sophomore Ainge contributed an overall effort with five points, six assists and six rebounds. BYU finished the game shooting 47.6 percent from the field, 40 percent from the arc and an uncharacteristic 37.5 percent shooting from the charity stripe.

LAST YEAR IN USAFA -- FALCONS SLAM COUGARS

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Records were broken at the Clune arena, as the Falcons dominated the Cougars in every way possible to give BYU its worst lost in MWC history, 70-39. For the Cougars and head coach Steve Cleveland, it is the lowest point total for BYU in the MWC and also is the Falcons' first-ever sweep against the Cougars. "There were too many no-shows in tonight's game," said Cleveland. "It's impossible to compete with teams in this conference if we can't have two or three players producing every night." It was another nightmarish start for BYU, as the Falcons left the Cougars scoreless until Austin Ainge hit a deep three-point shot with 9:21 remaining in the first half. The Falcons Antoine Hood scored 14 points in the game, including the first two points of the game to start a 19-0 run. The Falcons continued to overwhelm the Cougars in the opening half, leading by as many as 26 points on their way to a 37-13 advantage. The frustration continued for the Cougars in the second half. BYU had no answer for the Flacons offense and struggled to find a high quality shot to close the gap on Air Force's hefty lead. A bigger BYU team struggled inside the paint, being outrebounded 36-24 and outscored in the low-post 38-10. Cougar guard Sam Burgess led the way for all Cougar scoring, finishing with nine points and center Chris Miles added seven points. Overall, BYU made a season-low 28 percent on 14-of-50 shooting from the field.

BYU's LAST OUTING -- Cougars Win Sixth Straight at Home with Victory over Tulsa

PROVO -- The Cougars finished preseason play with a 68-49 win over Tulsa Friday night in the Marriott Center, winning their sixth game in a row at home and improving their record to 8-3. BYU held the Golden Hurricane to only 29 points from the floor in the game as Tulsa's other 20 points came from 87 percent shooting at the free throw line. The Cougars pushed the ball for a 9-2 lead over Tulsa in the first four minutes of the game and held the Golden Hurricane without a field goal in the first nine minutes. Tulsa's only points came from 7-for-8 shooting at the free throw line, keeping the Hurricane within range of the Cougars. Freshman Trent Plaisted went on a run early on, bringing in eight points for the Cougars in the first nine minutes. Junior Fernando Malaman added another eight points in the first period. Austin Ainge, Derek Dawes, Plaisted and Malaman all scored back-to-back buckets in the first period helping BYU to a 38-21 lead at halftime. Sixteen of BYU's 38 points came off of 16 Tulsa turnovers compared to BYU's four. Coming out in the second half, the Cougars sent Tulsa to the line for two free points before senior Brock Reichner and Plaisted added four points each for an 8-0 run. BYU's defense held the Golden Hurricane without a field goal for the first five minutes of the second period. Junior Jimmy Balderson sunk a three-pointer at the 14-minute mark to double Tulsa's score at 50-25. BYU sustained its lead and tenacity with another run, which included a slam dunk by junior Keena Young and a three-pointer by junior Mike Rose. Late in the second half Tulsa went on an 8-2 run, but it was not enough to catch the Cougars, who held a 19-point advantage over the Golden Hurricane at 61-42. Dawes added another basket followed by a jump shot and a free throw by junior Keena Young to win the game 68-49. "Give credit to BYU. They were bigger, stronger, more skilled and a good transition team. Coach Rose did a good job," said first-year Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik, who helped coach Michigan State to the NCAA Final Four last year. "I'm proud of our kids; they competed to the end. I don't accept the losing, but we checked BYU better than any other team so far. That's what I take from this game." As a program, Tulsa has averaged 21 wins per season since the 1999-2000 campaign with a .636 winning percentage to rank 35th nationally. Friday, Tulsa finished with 23 turnovers leading to 24 BYU points as the Hurricane fell to 4-7 on the year. Brett McDade was the only Golden Hurricane player in double figures with 11 points. BYU was led by Plaisted, who brought in 16 points, while Malaman added 10 and Dawes contributed eight. Dawes had a perfect shooting night, going 4-for-4 from the floor in just 14 minutes of play. Young and freshman Lee Cummard brought down six rebounds each to help the Cougars on the boards. "This was a very good game for the guys to get ready for league play because this is how it's going to be," said Rose of Tulsa's defensive preparation and effort. "It gets a lot more intense."

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "I think the game went pretty much as we had hoped. Tulsa played strong defense at the beginning and guarded well. Our guys played well for it being a different type of game than we played the other day."

-- "Defensively, our guys figured things out on the floor without having to talk to the coaches, and that was one thing I was really pleased with tonight."

-- "This was a very good game for the guys to get ready for league play because this is how it's going to be. It gets a lot more intense. It's a huge opportunity and a huge challenge (opening MWC play at Air Force) to play top teams."

-- "We need a group of players to play well every night for us to do well."

Tulsa Head Coach Doug Wojcik

-- "Give credit to BYU. They were bigger, stronger, more skilled and a good transition team. Coach Rose did a good job. He's a first-year coach, and any first-year coach I'm rooting for because I'm a first-year coach."

-- "I'm proud of our kids; they competed to the end. We came in with some goals to keep BYU in the 60s, which we did, and defend their field goal percentage, which we did."

-- "I don't accept the losing, but we checked BYU better than any other team so far. That's what I take from this game."

BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING

-- Freshman Lee Cummard made his second start of the season against Tulsa, joining Rashaun Broadus, Brock Reichner, Fernando Malaman and Trent Plaisted in the starting five.

-- Individual Career Highs: Derek Dawes -- 1.000 field goal percentage (4-4); Trent Plaisted -- 1 assist (tied).

-- Team Season Highs/Lows: Fewest Points Allowed in a Half -- 21; Most Opponent Turnovers -- 23; Least Opponent Field Goals Made -- 13; Highest Opponent Free Throw Percentage -- .870.

-- Jackson Emery logged 2 minutes in the first half but left the game midway through the period after hitting his head on the floor while trying to take a charge (no call on the play). Given the scoring margin in the second half, Emery was held out for the rest of the game.

-- BYU's 19-point win against Tulsa marks the seventh time in eight victories that the Cougars have won by double-digits. BYU's average margin of victory is 20.5 points.

-- With the win against Tulsa, BYU is now 7-0 when leading at the half. The Cougars' average halftime lead is 13 points. BYU's 38-21 halftime lead against Tulsa marks the sixth time this season that the Cougars' lead has been double digits.

-- BYU began the game with an 11-4 run, which included 6 points from Trent Plaisted.

-- Tulsa did not score from the field until the 10:47 mark of the first half, missing its first six shots. However, the Golden Hurricane benefited from 7-of-8 shooting from the free throw line during the 9:13 drought. Tulsa ended the first half 5-of-17 from the field (.294) and 10-of-12 (.833) from the line. The Hurricane's woes continued in the second period of play as Tulsa scored the half's first two points from the charity stripe but did not score from the field until the 14:23 mark, missing eight shots and allowing BYU to go on a 9-0 run.

-- The Cougars capitalized on 16 first-half Tulsa turnovers, scoring 16 points off of Hurricane miscues. BYU had just four first-half turnovers, resulting in two Hurricane points.

-- Austin Ainge and Derek Dawes entered the game late in the first half and contributed to the scoring column as each made his first two shots, including a three-pointer from Ainge. Dawes finished the game 4-for-4 with eight points while Ainge finished 2-for-3 with five points.

COUGARS FACE CHALLENGE OF QUICK TURNAROUND THIS WEEK

This week BYU opens MWC play with a late-start game at Air Force Thursday night before having to travel back to host a better-rested Utah team in an early afternoon start on Saturday. The Utes open at home against New Mexico on Wednesday before making the 40-minute trip to Provo on Saturday. BYU enters both games with a roster that has only three players who have ever won against the Falcons (Derek Dawes, 1-2; Jimmy Balderson, 1-3; Mike Rose, 1-3) and two who have earned the "W" against the Utes (Dawes, 1-3; Rose, 1-3).

MWC OPENERS

BYU will play Air Force in its MWC opener for the first time and start on the road for the third time in its soon-to-be seven league openers. BYU is 4-2 in MWC openers, with a 3-1 record at home and a 1-1 mark on the road, including a 2004 loss at San Diego State (65-61) and a win in BYU's first-ever MWC game at UNLV (77-75) in 2000. BYU has lost its last two league openers after winning its first four.

FOR STARTERS

BYU's starting lineup the last two games has consisted of two freshmen (Trent Plaisted and Lee Cummard), two junior transfers (Rashaun Broadus and Fernando Malaman) and one senior (Brock Reichner). Reichner is the only one of the five to have started a Division I game prior to this season. He made two starts late last year in his first season at BYU. Coming off the bench for BYU are five Cougars who started between seven and 23 games on last year's team (Austin Ainge, 23 starts; Jimmy Balderson, 16 starts; Keena Young, 15 starts, Derek Dawes, 13 starts; Mike Rose, 7 starts). Overall this year, seven players have started while Coach Dave Rose has used three starting lineups. Broadus, Malaman and Plaisted have started each game while Reichner has started 10 games and Balderson nine games. Ainge has one start, the first game, and Cummard has two starts, the last two games.

PUTTING ONE WIN IN FRONT OF THE OTHER

BYU is looking to achieve its third three-game victory streak of the season at Air Force Thursday. Last year, BYU was able to record only one victory streak, winning three in a row, during a challenging 9-21 season.

BYU AMONG MWC LEADERS

BYU leads the MWC in scoring (78.9), and assists (18.5) and is second in scoring margin (+11.4), field goal percentage (.494), assist/turnover ratio (1.24), three-pointers made (7.4), three-point percentage defense (.306) and defensive rebounds (26.1). The Cougars rank third in three-point field goal percentage (.395) and blocked shots (4.73). Individually, point guards Rashaun Broadus (5.1) and Austin Ainge (3.6) rank first and third, respectively, in assists and are the top two MWC playmakers in assist/turnover ratio, with Ainge leading all MWC players (3.64 assist/turnover ratio), followed next by Broadus (2.00). Fernando Malaman and Trent Plaisted rank third and fifth, respectively, in field goal percentage at .615 and .600, while Malaman is fourth in blocked shots (1.88). Plaisted ranks ninth in scoring at 13.6 ppg.

SCORING FOR THE COUGARS

BYU is averaging an MWC-leading 78.9 points, led by redshirt freshman Trent Plaisted's 13.6 points per game. Four different Cougars have led the team in scoring in BYU's first 11 games. Plaisted has led BYU five times (20 at USC, 13 vs. Southern Utah, 19 vs. Boise State, 15 vs Weber State and 16 vs. Tulsa), while senior Brock Reichner (18 at Washington State and 26 at Utah State), junior Jimmy Balderson (18 vs. Loyola Marymount and 21 vs. Lamar) and junior Keena Young (12 vs. Northern Kentucky and 15 vs. Eastern Washington) have each led BYU twice. Nine different Cougars have had a double-digit scoring outing for BYU this year (all except Austin Ainge, high of 8; Lee Cummard, high of 9; and Jermaine Odjegba, high of 2).

FROM THREE-POINT RANGE

BYU has made 50 percent of its three-point shots in four games this year but has also made less than 33.3 percent on threes in five games. Overall, BYU is making .395 percent from long range, third in the MWC, with eight different players having made a trey, led by Brock Reichner's 18 triples (18-for-37). Fernando Malaman is shooting .688 (11-for-16). BYU ranks second in the MWC by connecting on 7.4 treys per game.

BYU AT THE POINT

BYU's Rashaun Broadus (5.1 apg) and Austin Ainge (3.6 apg) rank first and third, respectively, among Mountain West Conference players in assists per game average this season while helping the Cougars lead the MWC in team assists at 18.5 apg. Broadus and Ainge have combined for 68 assists compared to 25 turnovers in BYU's eight wins while totaling 28 assists and 14 turnovers in the Cougars' three defeats. Broadus has 40 assists and 18 turnovers in the wins with 16 assists and 10 turnovers in the losses. Ainge boasts 28 assists to only 7 turnovers in the victories while totaling 12 assists and 4 turnovers in defeats. With his overall 40 assists to 11 turnovers, Ainge easily leads all MWC players in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.64), while Broadus ranks second (2.00). In BYU's season-opening loss to Loyola Marymount the two guards combined for six assists and five turnovers, and in the loss at USC they totaled seven assists and five turnovers. Broadus and Ainge showed marked improvement in the Cougars' win at Washington State, where the two combined to dish out 10 assists while committing only two turnovers, as each posted a line of a game-high 5 assists with only one turnover. In BYU's victory over Southern Utah, they combined for 13 assists with only one turnover, as Ainge tied a career high with 8 assists without a turnover and Broadus had 3 assists and one turnover while scoring a season-best 11 points. Against Lamar, Broadus dished out a career-best 9 assists, including an assist on BYU's first six baskets, while Ainge added two assists to help BYU achieve 22 assists for the second straight game. Broadus recorded a team-high 6 assists against Boise State and the two points combined for 7 assists (4 Ainge, 3 Broadus) and only 1 turnover (Broadus) vs. Northern Kentucky and 7 assists (4 Ainge, 3 Broadus) and only 2 turnovers vs. Weber State. Ainge had 7 assists without a turnover at USU while Broadus had 8 assists and 4 turnovers while scoring a career-best 21 points. Broadus tied a career-best 9 assists while Ainge added 4 to fuel BYU to a season-high 29 assists vs. Eastern Washington. As a team, BYU has made an assist on 64.2 percent of the team's field goals this season.

BYU IN THE POST

BYU's post players are all efficient from the floor. Starters Fernando Malaman, who has made 61.5 percent (40-of-65) of his shots, and Trent Plaisted, who has converted 60 percent (54-of-90) of his attempts, rank third and fifth, respectively among MWC players in field goal percentage. Off the bench, Derek Dawes is making .654 (17-of-26) and Keena Young is shooting .545 (30-of-55). Malaman's numbers are perhaps the most impressive to date, considering the 6-foot-9 Brazilian transfer is scoring from all over the floor, including a team-leading 68.8 percent success rate (11-of-16) from behind the three-point arc.

BYU ON THE WING

Senior Brock Reichner has started the last 10 games at 2-guard and is second on the team in scoring at 10.2 ppg, including team-high 18 threes, while junior Jimmy Balderson started the first nine games at small forward and is third in scoring at 9.1 ppg, with nine treys. BYU's two freshman wings are playing significant roles. Lee Cummard has started in place of Balderson the last two games and is averaging 5.7 points in 14.2 minutes while shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and has made seven threes. Jackson Emery is shooting 48.5 percent from the floor and has made eight triples while averaging 4.0 points in 10.8 minutes. He has also been a solid defender for the Cougars, often helping guard the opponent's top perimeter player. Junior Mike Rose plays 10.1 minutes in the rotation on the wing, averaging 4.5 points, including 12 treys.

DANNY AINGE TO BE HONORED WITH PRESTIGIOUS 2006 NCAA SILVER ANNIVERSARY AWARD SATURDAY

Former BYU basketball great Danny Ainge has been selected as one of six recipients of the 2006 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. The award recognizes former student-athletes who completed successful collegiate careers in various sports 25 years ago and went on to excel in their chosen professions. Silver Award winners are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, which comprises eight athletics administrators at member institutions and nationally distinguished citizens who are former student-athletes. Joining Ainge as 2006 recipients are Valerie B. Ackerman (University of Virginia, women's basketball); Charles E. Davis (Vanderbilt University, men's basketball); Dr. Terry Schroeder (Pepperdine University, men's water polo); Michael Singletary (Baylor University, football); and Susan D. Wellington (Yale University, women's swimming and softball). The awards will be presented at the NCAA Honors Celebration on Saturday, January 7, during the annual NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. The Convention will serve as the kick-off to the NCAA's Centennial with the theme, Celebrating the Student-Athlete. Ainge becomes the third former BYU student-athlete to receive the prestigious award, joining current BYU Faculty Representative Larry Echohawk (Football, 1970), who was honored in 1995, and former Cougar All-American quarterback Gifford Nielsen (Football, 1978), who received the award in 2003.

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