Cougar point guard Ben Murdock is second in the MWC in assists and fourth in assist/turnover ratio. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYU GAME #12 FAST FACTS
No. 21 BYU COUGARS (9-2)
SUU THUNDERBIRDS (2-9)
Friday, Dec. 21, 2007
Marriott Center (22,700)
6:35 p.m. MT
BYU, Dave Rose (54-20 in third season; same overall)
SUU, Roger Reid (2-9 in first season; 154-86 in ninth year overall)
BYU leads, 10-0, including an 80-61 victory last saeason in Provo
The Mtn. (James Bates, play-by-play; Joe Cravens, game analysis),
KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (5:30 p.m. MT pregame show -- Greg Wrubell, play-by-play; Mark Durrant, game analysis)
Live audio and live stats links are available on the basketball schedule page at www.byucougars.com
NO. 21 BYU HOSTS SOUTHERN UTAH FRIDAY
No. 21 BYU (9-2) will play the last game of a three-game homestand on Friday as the Cougars take on Southern Utah at 6:30 p.m. after completing final exams this week. BYU is coming off an 86-67 win over Pepperdine on Saturday and currently owns the nation's longest active home winning streak at 37 games. Both of BYU's losses this season have come to top-10 teams. The Thunderbirds are 2-9 this year and are coming off a 99-63 loss at CS Fullerton on Monday. This Friday's game will be televised on The Mtn. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM out of Salt Lake City and on the Internet at KSL.com beginning with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. MT.
BYU will play at Boise State on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. in Taco Bell Arena. The game will be televised on BYUTV.
COUGAR QUICK HITS
-- BYU currently owns the nation's longest active home win streak with 37 straight wins in the Marriott Center. The Cougars went 17-0 at home last year and are 6-0 at home this year.
-- The Cougars' entrance into the national rankings on Nov. 26 marked the program's earliest appearance in the national polls since the 1980-81 season. With a ranking as high as No. 21 last year, BYU has now been ranked in back-to-back season for the first time since 1980-81 and 1981-82.
-- Two-time reigning MWC Coach of the Year Dave Rose helped make BYU the second-most improved program in the nation in his first season with a 20-9 record and guided the Cougars to the outright MWC title and a top-25 ranking in his second campaign in Provo as the Cougars went 25-9 last season.
-- BYU has been picked in the preseason poll to finish first in the MWC race this year by the league's media.
-- This year's BYU squad returns two starters among seven lettermen from last year's outright league leaders (13-3 MWC record) as well as returned missionary Chris Miles, who made six starts as a freshman in 2004-05. Headlining BYU's top returners in 2007-08 are MWC Player of the Year candidate Trent Plaisted, a two-time All-MWC Second Team selection in his first two seasons; versatile junior guard Lee Cummard, who earned All-MWC Third Team honors one year ago; and sophomore sharpshooter Jonathan Tavernari, who followed Plaisted's lead the prior season by being named the MWC Freshman of the Year in his first campaign as a Cougar.
LOOKING AT SOUTHERN UTAH
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds are 2-9 so far this season with wins at Sacramento State and Oakland. SUU has been defeated by in-state rivals Utah State and Utah Valley. The Thunderbirds return three starters among seven letterwinners from last year's team that finished 16-14 overall. The team also features a new coaching staff this season that includes former BYU head coach Roger Reid at the helm and former Cougar point guard Austin Ainge (2004-07) as an assistant on Reid's staff. The Thunderbirds are led by junior forward Geoff Payne, who ranks 13th in the nation with 21.8 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting from the field. The 6-foot-7 Snow College transfer also boasts a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game and 20 steals on the year. Senior forward Nurudeen Adepoju is second on the team with 9.0 ppg to go along with 3.2 boards per contest. Senior forward/center Tate Sorensen is second for SUU on the glass with 5.1 rpg and shoots a team-best 60.0 percent from the field while adding 6.6 ppg. Junior guard Dave Marek dishes out 4.5 assists per game and has 13 steals on the year. As a team, the Thunderbirds average 66.6 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting from the field, including a 34.9 percent mark from three-point range. SUU opponents average 73.8 points per contest on 47.0 percent shooting from the floor. The Thunderbirds outrebound their opponents, 35.7-31.1.
SOUTHERN UTAH'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG Hometown
F 04 Nurudeen Adepoju 6-5 195 Sr. 9.0 3.2 Lagos, Nigeria
F 34 Geoff Payne 6-7 195 Jr. 21.8 7.3 Sandy, Utah
C 50 Tyler Quinney 6-7 210 Jr. 3.4 4.5 Sandy, Utah
G 10 Dave Marek 6-2 180 Jr. 6.5 1.8 Benesov, Czech Republic
G 25 Davis Baker 6-4 195 So. 6.4 1.9 Coto de Caza, Calif.
SOUTHERN UTAH'S LAST OUTING -- CS FULLERTON HANDLES THUNDERBIRDS
FULLERTON, Calif., (Dec. 17, 2007) -- Marcus Crenshaw came off the bench to score 17 points and Josh Akognon added 16 as Cal State Fullerton handled Southern Utah Monday night, 99-63. Crenshaw hit 5-of-9 3-pointers and Akognon 4-of-8 as the Titans shot 50 percent from long range and .552 overall in sending the Thunderbirds to their ninth loss of the season. SUU shot 50 percent in the first half but dipped to .357 in the second when the Thunderbirds hit just 10-of-28 shots. CSUF pulled away late in the first half, outscoring Southern Utah 23-6 over the final 7:38 of the period to overcome a 24-21 deficit and take a 44-30 advantage into halftime. Akognon scored 14 points during the run, hitting 4-of-4 3-point attempts and a layup as the Titans pulled away. CSUF scored the first two baskets of the second half and the Thunderbirds never got back within 14 the rest of the way. "We just got beat tonight by a better basketball team," SUU Coach Roger Reid said. "There's not really a lot to say about it other than they are a very talented team that beat us pretty soundly tonight." Geoff Payne led the Thunderbirds in scoring for the ninth time in 11 games, with 18 points, and pulled down a team-high six rebounds while Nurudeen Adepoju added 11 points. Southern Utah out-rebounded the Titans, 35-32, but CSUF controlled the other statistical categories, picking off 13 steals as the Thunderbirds committed 22 turnovers. SUU did hit 13-of-15 free throws, 84.6 percent, by far the team's best effort from the line this season.
QUOTING COACH ROSE
"This team is a very well coached team. They got a great split on the road last week when they opened league play. We know that Coach Reid has them ready to play. It will be a big game for our team, especially when you're playing against a coach like Coach Reid with what he's meant to BYU and our program over the years. He's very competitive so it will be a tense, competitive atmosphere. We're looking forward to the game."
BYU has never lost to Southern Utah, owning a 10-0 all-time series lead with all 10 contests coming in Provo. The two teams have met every year for the past eight seasons, including an 80-61 Cougar victory on Nov. 24 2006. The series began with two Cougar Classic meetings, the first of which came in 1992 with a 108-62 BYU win. The game marked the Cougars' largest margin of victory (46 points) and most points scored in the series. The Thunderbirds have never scored more than 70 points on the Cougars with their high of 67 coming in an 82-67 loss in 1994 while BYU has scored under 75 points just once in the series, a 58-52 win in 2000.
With the old Oquirrh bucket and the state bragging rights that go along with it once again on the line this season, the Cougars are hoping to defend the in-state title they won last year with a 5-0 record. The Cougars have already scored one in-state victory this season with a 72-57 win over Weber State on Dec. 5, making them 1-0 so far this year. In addition to Friday's game against Southern Utah, BYU will face the University of Utah twice, on Jan. 19 and Feb. 20, during Mountain West Conference play to round out in-state play.
Team Record Games
Utah 2-0 W at Weber State, W vs. Utah State
Utah Valley 1-0 W at SUU
BYU 1-0 W vs. Weber State
Weber State 1-2 W vs. Utah State, L vs. Utah, L at BYU
Utah State 1-2 L at Utah, L at Weber State, W vs. SUU
Southern Utah 0-2 L at Utah State, L vs. Utah Valley
BYU'S LAST OUTING VS. SUU -- PLAISTED BREAKS OUT AS COUGARS DEFEAT SUU
PROVO -- The BYU men's basketball team extended its home win streak to 17 games, the seventh-longest active streak in the nation, as the Cougars defeated Southern Utah University, 80-61. Friday night's win brings BYU to 3-1 on the season. The Cougars began the game hot, scoring on their first five possessions. Sophomore Trent Plaisted had four of those buckets and ended the night with his first double-double of the season and seventh of his career at 19 points and 12 boards. BYU continued with the hot hand hitting 10 of its first 12 shots and extending its lead to 23-6. BYU's defensive pressure in the first half was the best it's been all year holding the Thunderbirds to just 23 points on 33 percent shooting. The Cougars also forced 15 turnovers and had six steals in the first half. At half the score was 41-23 in favor of BYU with the 19-point lead being the largest halftime lead the Cougars have had all season. SUU showed some life at the end of the first half hitting back-to-back three pointers, but BYU came out of the locker room to start the second half hot as senior Austin Ainge hit a deep three. Ainge had a stellar performance and was one of three Cougars in double figures with a season-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting while tying his season-high mark in assists with five. Senior Keena Young provided a big push in the second half scoring eight consecutive points and extending BYU's lead to 58-30 with 13:09 left in the game. Young finished the game with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and is the lone Cougar to score in double figures every game this year. The bench play for the Cougars was key Friday night as they prevented SUU from going on any sort of run. Junior Sam Burgess provided a lift coming off the bench, dishing out a career-high five assists.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "Our best sign tonight was Trent coming out of the blocks early. He feels good out there and is confident coming off of his ankle injury."
-- "During the first 10 minutes we were on attack. Defensively we had a good mindset and contested many of their shots."
-- "Tonight we tried several combinations of teams. Hopefully by the time we return from our next road game, we will have a pretty good idea of the roles on our team."
-- "We executed our game plan very well concerning the short turnaround."
-- "Austin (Ainge) is very relaxed. He's playing with confidence. Rashaun (Broadus) will be fine. He plays hard, and it will just take some time."
Southern Utah Head Coach Bill Evans
-- "We could not stop (Trent) Plaisted. He is big and strong. We had no answer for him."
-- "When we got down, we panicked and threw up some bad shots. We did not play like we are capable of playing. We got beat by a good team in their place. The season is still young. We will improve from here."
-- "Keena Young is a load. I think he is the most improved player on their team. He is a hard guard."
-- "BYU is a good defensive team. They are much better defensively than people give them credit for."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- BYU head coach Dave Rose used his third different starting lineup in four games as Austin Ainge, Jimmy Balderson, Lee Cummard, Keena Young and Trent Plaisted got the starting nod against Southern Utah. Cummard, Balderson and Young have started all four games this season while Ainge has now started the last two and Plaisted has started three, missing the start on Wednesday against Portland while nursing a sprained ankle.
-- Individual Career Highs: Lee Cummard - 8 rebounds; Sam Burgess - 5 assists.
-- Individual Season Highs: Austin Ainge - 11 points, 5 assists (tied); Lee Cummard -- 4 assists.
-- BYU's victory over SUU increased the Cougars' home win streak to 17 games, currently the seventh-longest active streak in the nation.
-- With a final score of 80-61, the Cougars are now 3-0 this season when scoring over 70 points in a game after going 17-4 last season when reaching the 70-point threshold.
-- BYU has outscored its opponents from the bench in every game this year, including a 22-19 margin against the Thunderbirds.
-- SUU's 23-point first half marked the fewest points in a half allowed by the Cougars this season.
-- BYU's 19-point halftime lead (41-23) is its largest halftime margin of the season. The Cougars have led at the break in every game this year.
-- Plaisted recorded his first double-double of the season and the seventh of his career with 19 points and 12 rebounds. He achieved the mark with an offensive rebound on the first BYU possession of the second half.
-- Plaisted made the most of his starting opportunity as he scored 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the first four minutes of the game, marking the first time this season he has scored in double figures. The 2006 Freshman All-American also tied his season-high rebounding mark with five boards prior to the 16-minute mark.
-- With 16 points against SUU, Young has now scored in double figures in every game this year, the only Cougar to do so.
-- Young has also been perfect from the free-throw line in three of four games this season, going 2-for-2 against the Thunderbirds and improving his season mark to 13-for-14 (.929).
-- True freshman Jonathan Tavernari made his Cougar debut with 4:12 left in the first half, making the first basket of his BYU career with a three-pointer with 2:43 left in the game and posting one rebound.
-- With a 3-for-4 three-point shooting night against Southern Utah, Ainge improved his season three-point shooting percentage to .692 (9-of-13). Ainge leads the team in three-pointers made.
-- The Cougars held the Thunderbirds scoreless for 4:21 early in the first half, going on a 10-0 run from the 17:25 mark to the 13:04 mark to build an 18-4 lead.
-- BYU head coach Dave Rose received his first technical foul of the season and the second of his BYU head-coaching career with 5:43 left to play in the first half. Rose also received a technical foul last season at UNLV (Jan. 11).
-- Leading 46-30 with 16:45 left in the game, BYU put together a 15-0 run over the next 6:25 thanks in part to eight points from Young.
-- Fernando Malaman recorded his first dunk of the season and third of his career with 6:21 left in the game, giving the Cougars a 72-47 lead.
BYU'S LAST OUTING -- CUMMARD NEAR PERFECT IN ROUT
PROVO -- No. 25 BYU (9-2) won its 37th straight home game with a convincing 86-67 win over Pepperdine (5-7) Saturday night in the Marriott Center. Junior guard Lee Cummard led all scorers with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting, while junior center Trent Plaisted posted his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Plaisted's 18 boards also matched his career high. Jason Walberg paced Pepperdine with 17 points. The Cougars applied a balanced attack early on as Sam Burgess followed up a lay-in with a head fake and kiss off the glass to give him a quick four points. Plaisted scored on a strong post move going left, while Cummard nailed a trey from the top of the key giving BYU a 9-2 lead. Minutes later, Plaisted flushed a layup and a dunk in succession to give the Cougars a double-digit lead little more than five minutes into the game. Carrying a 20-8 edge with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, BYU got a little sloppy. Thanks in large part to the Cougars' 12 turnovers in the game's first 12 minutes the Waves used an 11-2 run to get back in the game. Leading by only three points at 22-19, BYU went back to work in the paint. After another Plaisted slam, freshman Chris Collinsworth put down a layup to extend the Cougars' cushion to seven at 26-19. Freshman guard Michael Loyd, Jr. knocked one down from beyond the arc and then swished a 15-footer along the left baseline. Pepperdine responded with back-to-back three-pointers to cut BYU's lead to 31-28 with five minutes to go in the half. Seconds later it was Loyd, Jr. again bringing a little show time basketball to the Marriott Center. The Las Vegas native stole the ball and drove the length of the court before throwing up a perfectly timed alley-oop to Cummard. A Ben Murdock three and a Plaisted jump-hook in the paint brought the Cougars' lead back to 10 at 38-28. With just under two minutes remaining, Cummard went coast-to-coast for a two-handed slam that gave BYU its largest lead of the half at 40-29. Pepperdine scored four unanswered points in the low post to make it a 40-33 game at the break. The Cougars shot a smoldering 62 percent from the field in the opening half, while holding the Waves to just 34 percent. A full-court press from Pepperdine to begin the second half forced two consecutive Cougar turnovers, but Cummard finished a fastbreak with yet another dunk and then scored with his back to the basket to keep the Waves at bay. His team up by three, Cummard banked in a five-footer off an up-and-under move to increase the lead to 46-41 and spark an 11-2 run. Cummard had four points and a block during the decisive run, which gave BYU a 55-43 advantage. Pepperdine would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, while the Cougar lead ballooned to as many as 22. During the rout, sophomore forward Jonathan Tavernari sank back-to-back long balls from the right-side corner.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "The heart and soul of our team has a lot of experience in finding the best shot possible. When they pass up a good shot for a better shot, it becomes contagious. That helped us out a lot tonight."
-- "The heart and soul of our team has a lot of experience in finding the best shot possible. When they pass up a good shot for a better shot, it becomes contagious throughout the whole team. That helped us out a lot tonight."
Pepperdine Head Coach Vance Walberg
-- "They're a better team, smarter and more experienced. They're a top-25 team and have a lot more experience than us."
-- "We turned the ball over 24 times. We're not going to beat anyone by doing that. When we create turnovers we need to take advantage of them on the other end of the floor, and tonight we didn't do that."
-- "This team has little experience. We have a long way to go, but we're going to get better. When all five players on our defense are where they're supposed to be and are doing their jobs good things can happen."
-- "For us to have any success we can't beat ourselves. Tonight we beat ourselves."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- Individual Career Highs: Trent Plaisted - 18 rebounds (tied); Sam Burgess - 5 assists (tied); Lee Cummard - 4 blocks.
-- Team Season Highs: 62.1 first-half shooting percentage; 9 blocks.
-- With the win, BYU gained sole possession of the nation's longest active home victory streak at 37 games, surpassing Memphis. The Cougars have not lost at home since Nov. 18, 2005, a 73-81 loss to Loyola Marymount.
-- BYU led wire-to-wire against the Waves, marking the fifth time this year the Cougars have never trailed in a game.
-- With the win, BYU is now 135-56 all-time as a ranked team, including a 7-4 mark under Dave Rose.
-- With the 19-point win, BYU is now outscoring its opponents by 17.2 points on the year. That margin jumps to 22.9 points in the Cougars' nine wins.
-- BYU is now 9-0 when scoring at least 70 points in a game and 7-1 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark. The Cougars are also now 5-0 when scoring at least 80 points.
-- With 18 points, Plaisted remains the only Cougar to score in double figures in every game this season. Plaisted reached double figures in the first half as he posted 10 points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes of the game.
-- Plaisted also recorded his fourth double-double of the year and 13th of his career with a career-high-tying 18 rebounds to go along with 18 points. On the year, Plaisted leads the Mountain West Conference in both scoring and rebounding.
-- With 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting, Cummard has now scored at least 20 points in three games on the year and five in his career. Including a season-high 27 points Wednesday against Lamar, Cummard averaged 24.0 points in two games this week.
-- As a team, BYU connected on seven three-pointers. The Cougars have nailed at least six from behind the arc in each game this season.
-- With a 40-33 halftime lead against Pepperdine, the Cougars have now led at halftime in 10 of 11 games this year, going 9-1 in those contests and outscoring opponents by an average of 12.7 points in the first half.
- BYU has held all 10 of its opponents this year under 40 points in the first half. BYU has scored at least 30 first-half points in every game this season and has topped 40 points in seven games.
- The Cougars made seven of their first nine shots from the field to open up a 15-5 early lead. Overall, BYU shot a first-half season-high 62.1 percent from the field in the opening period.
- After going 4-for-5 for nine points in the first half, Cummard scored the first six points of the second half for BYU, including his third dunk of the night and sixth of the season.
-- With a career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, Cummard recorded his second double-double of the season and fourth of his career. He has also now scored at least 20 points in two games on the year and four in his career.
- As a team, BYU connected on 11 three-pointers, marking the third time this year the Cougars have recorded double-digit makes from long range. The Cougars have nailed at least six from behind the arc in each game this season.
- With a 42-30 halftime lead against Lamar, the Cougars have now led at halftime in nine of 10 games this year, going 8-1 in those contests and outscoring opponents by an average of 13.3 points in the first half. BYU's 12-point lead against the Cardinals marked the Cougars' eighth double-digit halftime lead this season.
- BYU has held all 10 of its opponents this year under 40 points in the first half. BYU has scored at least 30 first-half points in every game this season and has topped 40 points in six games.
BYU IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
The BYU men's basketball team is ranked 21st in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll this week. BYU entered the national rankings on Nov. 26, earning the program's earliest appearance in the national polls since the 1980-81 season. BYU was ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll.
"(The ranking) is something we can build on," said BYU coach Dave Rose, the two-time Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year who has guided the Cougars to back-to-back 20-win seasons in his first two years. "We have a lot of work to do and need to keep improving as a team to get ready for the Mountain West Conference season."
In his third year guiding the program, Rose has seen his team earn the respect of the national voters for the second consecutive season. Last year, BYU entered the polls on Feb. 19 to receive the program's first national ranking since 1993. BYU finished last year ranked No. 24 in the final AP Poll, something a Cougar team had not accomplished since 1988.
BYU has now been ranked in back-to-back season for the first time since 1980-81 and 1981-82. The Nov. 26 entry into the national rankings marks the earliest the Cougars have been included in the polls since receiving a No. 18 ranking in the 1980-81 AP preseason poll. It also marked the first time BYU's football and men's basketball teams have been nationally ranked the same week in the AP poll since Dec. 28, 1992.
The Cougar basketball program has now been ranked in the AP Poll during 16 seasons since its first national ranking in 1950-51 (see list below).
SEASONS BYU HAS BEEN RANKED IN THE AP POLL
SEASON HIGHEST RANKING
BYU AS A RANKED TEAM
BYU owns a 135-56 record as a ranked team. The Cougars are 78-12 at home, 36-27 on the road and 21-17 at neutral sites when nationally ranked after their 86-67 win over Pepperdine on Saturday. BYU's victory at Portland on Dec. 1 marked the Cougars' first road win as a ranked team since an 84-63 victory at UTEP on March 4, 1993 when BYU was ranked No. 21. BYU is 7-4 as a ranked team under Dave Rose including three wins and three losses last year. The Cougars were ranked as high as No. 21 last year and finished the year ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Poll.
VS. RANKED TEAMS
BYU's victory over No. 6 Louisville marked the highest-ranked team the Cougars have defeated since beating No. 2 St. Joseph's, 103-83, on Dec. 21, 1965. BYU is now 50-111 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll and 1-2 this season including a 73-63 loss to No. 1 North Carolina in the championship game of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational and a 68-61 loss to No. 9 Michigan State on Saturday. Prior to the UNC game, the Cougars had not faced the nation's top-ranked team since Dec. 23, 1992, an 89-66 loss to No. 1 Duke at the Maui Invitational. The Cougars were 3-3 in their games vs. ranked teams last year with a 78-70 loss at then-No. 25 and evential Sweet-16 participant UNLV in the MWC Tournament Championship game, a 62-58 victory at then-No. 20 Air Force, a 90-63 win over then-No. 25 UNLV, a 61-52 win over then-No. 13 Air Force, an 82-69 loss at then-No. 5 UCLA and a 76-61 neutral court loss against then-No. 25 Michigan St.
PLAYING THE BEST
The Cougars' game against No. 9 Michigan State last Saturday was their third game in three weeks against a top-10 opponent, including a victory over No. 6 Louisville on Nov. 23 and a loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 24. BYU has played at least three regular-season games against top-10 opponents in a season just six times previously in program history with the last coming in 1983-84. Only twice previously have the Cougars played three top-10 teams during a three-week stretch, once in 1990-91 with a loss to No. 9 Utah on March 2, a win over No. 8 Utah on March 9 in the WAC Tournament and a loss to No. 8 Arizona on March 16 in the NCAA Tournament and once in 1980-81 with a victory over No. 9 Utah on March 7 in the WAC Tournament, a win over No. 10 UCLA on March 14 in the NCAA Tournament, a victory over No. 7 Notre Dame on March 19 in the NCAA Tournament and a loss to No. 5 Virginia on March 21 in the NCAA Tournament.
PLAISTED REACHES 1,000 POINTS
With 22 points against Lamar, junior Trent Plaisted became the 37th member of BYU's elite 1,000 Point Club, joining such Cougar greats as Danny Ainge, Michael Smith, Devin Durrant, Fred Roberts, Kresimir Cosic and Andy Toolson as the only BYU players to score at least 1,000 points in their Cougar careers. Plaisted now has 1,025 career points. Keena Young was the most recent addition to the club as he posted 1,068 points during his three-year BYU stint from 2005-07. Of four-year players, Plaisted is just the 10th Cougar to reach the 1,000-point milestone as a junior. The last four-year player to reach 1,000 points as a junior was Mark Bigelow with 1,312 following the 2002-03 season. Plaisted also has 525 career rebounds, making him just the 21st player overall and fifth junior among four-year players to record at least 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
BYU PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
LEE CUMMARD (DEC. 17; MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK) -- BYU junior guard Lee Cummard has been named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the first time in his career, marking the third such award of the season for the Cougars. Cummard, a Mesa, Ariz., native, led the 25th-ranked Cougars to non-conference wins over Lamar (88-66) and Pepperdine (86-67) last week. He shot 75.0 percent from both the floor (21-for-28) and the three-point arc (6-for-8) while averaging team highs of 24.0 points, 6.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. Cummard also pulled down 8.0 rebounds per game. He tallied game highs of 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists vs. Lamar on 11-of-16 shooting from the field and a 5-of-7 performance from behind the arc. Cummard's point, assist and field goal totals were all career highs. He also added one blocked shot and one steal while committing zero turnovers. Against Pepperdine he recorded game highs of 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting, five assists, a personal-best four blocks and two steals while adding six rebounds.
TRENT PLAISTED (DEC. 10; MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK)
LEE CUMMARD (DEC 3)
TRENT PLAISTED (NOV. 26; MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK)
TRENT PLAISTED (NOV. 19)
LEE CUMMARD (NOV. 12)
Forward Noah Hartsock and guard/forward Charles Abouo (pronounced a-BOO-oh) have signed National Letters of Intent while guard Jackson Emery has signed a scholarship agreement to return to the Cougars. Hartsock, who previously signed with BYU out of high school, and Emery, who played for the Cougars as a freshman in 2005-06, are both currently serving as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I feel really good about this group of players," Rose said. "Jackson was an important part of our success as a freshman and got a lot of good experience that he will build upon when he returns. Noah and Charles are both talented student-athletes who will add a lot to our program." A native of Bartlesville, Okla., the 6-foot-8 Hartsock had the third-best scoring average in the state with 27.6 points per game as a senior at Bartlesville High School in 2005-06 while earning 6A Coaches Player of the Year and Tulsa World Player of the Year honors. Oklahoma's Jim Thorpe Award winner and a McDonald's High School All-America nominee, Hartsock added 8.0 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per contest as a senior. An extremely athletic wing from Logan, Utah, Abouo is averaging double figures, including a team-high 17 points in his last outing, for Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) this year after helping Logan High School win Region 11 titles in each of his three varsity seasons. The 6-foot-4 swingman was named the 3A MVP by the Deseret Morning News last spring after averaging 21.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game as a senior at Logan High School. Described as explosive and athletic, Abouo was a two-time first-team all-state selection at LHS who also earned All-Valley Player of the Year honors as a junior in 2005-06 when he averaged 15.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 1.1 bpg. Known for his competitiveness and clutch play, Emery is a quick player and solid defender with outstanding leaping ability. The Alpine, Utah, native provided a consistent spark for BYU and was a top perimeter defender as a true freshman in 2005-06, playing in 28 of 29 games with six starts. He averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds while scoring in double figures twice and leading BYU in rebounds and assists once each. A good shooter from long range, Emery also has the athleticism and creativity to convert inside when going to the basket. The 6-foot-3 guard out of Lone Peak High School was named the top player in Class 4A in 2005 and received the 2005 Mr. Basketball Award (Deseret Morning News), given to the athlete considered to be the top high school player in Utah.
WORTHY OF MENTION
- Trent Plaisted has scored at least 20 points in four of the last nine games, including 21 points against No. 6 Louisville and a season-high 24 points against No. 1 North Carolina. Lee Cummard recorded his fourth career 20-point game and second of the season with a career-high 27 points against Lamar before scoring a game-high 21 points against Pepperdine.
- Plaisted has scored in double figures in all 11 games for BYU this season.
- Cummard became the first Cougar to record a double-double this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Idaho State, the fourth double-double of his career. He added his fifth with 27 points and 10 rebounds against Lamar. Plaisted posted his first of the year and 10th of his career with 21 points and 12 rebounds against No. 6 Louisville before tallying 24 points and 17 rebounds against No. 1 North Carolina. He recorded his third of the season against Weber State with 14 points and 15 rebounds and his fourth with 18 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds against Pepperdine.
- Senior point guard Ben Murdock has 50 assists and only 17 turnovers in his first 11 starting assignments at the Division I level, ranking second in the Mountain West Conference in assists per game (4.6) and fourth in assist/turnover ratio (2.9). Against Portland, he dished out a personal-best 10 assists with only two turnovers, the fifth time this year he has dished out at least five assists.
- BYU is averaging 80.6 ppg and allowing 63.5 ppg. BYU leads all MWC teams in scoring, scoring margin (+17.2), field-goal percentage defense (.373), three-point field-goal percentage defense (.295), rebounding margin (+8.2), assists (18.6) and defensive rebounds (29.8).
- BYU has led at the half in 10 of 11 games this year, including eight double-digit leads. The Cougars' only deficit came when they trailed 38-31 against No. 1 North Carolina. The Cougars are outscoring opponents by 12.7 points in the first period of play.
DEFENDING THE HOME COURT
With 37 straight wins in the Marriott Center, the Cougars currently own the nation's longest active home victory streak. The Cougars are 6-0 at home this year and won 17 home games last season after going 14-1 at home in 2005-06. BYU's last home loss was in the 2005-06 season opener against Loyola Marymount. BYU?has since won 21 straight over nonconference opponents and 16 consecutive over MWC foes since losing its season finale in 2005 to UNLV. BYU?is 408-116 (.779) all-time in the Marriott Center. The Cougars' longest home winning streak came from Feb 19, 2000 to Jan 16, 2003 when BYU won 44 straight in the Marriott Center.
Active Homecourt Winning Streaks (As of Dec. 18, 2007)
Wins Team This year Next home game
37 BYU 5-0 Dec. 21 vs. Southern Utah
36 Memphis 4-0 Dec. 22 vs. Georgetown
ON THE ROAD
The Cougars are 2-0 in true road games this year. With a 1-2 record on neutral courts, BYU is now 3-2 this season away from home. BYU won five of its last seven games on the road last season including a win at then-No. 20 Air Force (62-58), snapping the Falcons' 30-game home winning streak. BYU was 6-7 on the road last year and 5-3 in conference play, becoming the only Mountain West Conference team with a winning record on the road in league play last year.
MAGIC NUMBER: 70
BYU is 9-0 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 7-1 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark while averaging 80.6 points per game and allowing just 63.5 ppg. The Cougars have scored 90 or more points in three games this season, reaching 100 against Jackson State and are 5-0 when scoring over 80 points on the year. Overall, BYU leads the Mountain West Conference in scoring and scoring margin (+17.2)
CLEANING THE GLASS
BYU has won the battle of the boards in nine of 11 games this year with the only deficits coming against No. 6 Louisville (39-37) and No. 9 Michigan State (37-29). BYU is besting opponents by an average of 8.2 boards per contest. The Cougars posted a season-high +19 rebounding margin (38-19) against Hartford as four Cougars pulled down at least five rebounds. BYU began the season with a 55-40 rebounding advantage at Long Beach State, matching last year's season high of 55 boards against Seton Hall. Five Cougars posted at least six rebounds in BYU's win over Lamar, marking the first time since Jan. 8, 2005 that feat has been done.
BYU has had five players score in double figures in a game three times this season, already matching last year's total of three games in which at least five players reached double digits. Four different Cougars have led the team in scoring this year through the first 11 games with Lee Cummard pacing BYU five times, Trent Plaisted leading the Cougars three times, Sam Burgess twice and Jonathan Tavernari once. Team-high rebounding and assist honors have been shared by four players through 11 games.
The Cougars won their first five games to begin the 2007-08 season before falling against No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 24, equaling their best start since 2002-03 when BYU won its first five games before falling on Dec. 7 at Creighton. In the 106-year history of the program, 22 teams have started 9-2 or better. The Cougars have won in dominant fashion this season, besting opponents by an average of 17.2 points per game while scoring 80.6 ppg and allowing only 63.5 points per contest.
After setting a program record with 256 three-pointers last season, the Cougars have recorded 95 makes from long range so far this season. BYU has posted double-digit three-pointers in a game three times this year with 11 against Lamar, 12 against Long Beach State and 13 against Hartford, marking just the sixth time in program history that the Cougars have posted at least 13 threes in a game including a record 15 against UNLV last season. The Cougars have made at least six three-pointers in every game this season. BYU is shooting 38.3 percent from beyond the arc this year and has shot at least 40 percent in four games, including a season high 59.1 percent efficiency against the Hawks (13-for-22). BYU shot above 40 percent from behind the arc 18 times on the year, including 12 of the last 15 games, and made at least 10 treys in a game on seven occasions.
Four Cougar freshman are making an impact this year as Chris Collinsworth, Jimmer Fredette, Michael Loyd, Jr. and Nick Martineau have made their respective BYU debuts with results that bode well for the future. All four saw their first action in the Cougars' season opener at Long Beach State as Fredette and Collinsworth led the newcomers in scoring with nine points each. Fredette tallied 10 points vs. Idaho State, and Loyd scored 15 points against Jackson State while Collinsworth pulled down 10 boards against the Tigers. Fredette then made noise against Hartford with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, including making 4-of-5 from three-point range, while posting a perfect 3-for-3 mark from the free-throw line and tying his career high with four steals in 19 minutes. On the year, Collinsworth is tied for 19th in the Mountain West Conference in rebounds (4.9).
After using the same starting lineup in the first nine games of the season, Cougar head coach Dave Rose has started forward Chris Collinsworth in the last two games, marking the first career starts for the Cougar freshman. Seniors Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess along with juniors Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted have started all 11 games this year while sophomore Jonathan Tavernari has made nine starts. Cummard started all 34 games last season, and Plaisted made 33 starts. Burgess made one start as a sophomore in 2004-05 while Murdock and Tavernari each earned their first career starts against Long Beach State.
The Cougars' nine victories this year have come by an average margin of 22.9 points, including a 19-point victory over Pepperdine, a 22-point win over Lamar (88-66), a 15-point triumph over Weber State (72-57), a 14-point victory at Portland (78-54), a two-point win over No. 6 Louisville, a 24-point triumph over Hartford (97-73), a 39-point win over Jackson Sate (100-61), a 21-point victory over Idaho State (90-69) and a 40-point win at Long Beach State (74-34). The win over the 49ers marked BYU's largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent since defeating Morgan State by 41 points (110-69) on Dec. 28, 1995. Including a 10-point loss to No. 1 North Carolina and a seven-point defeat at the hands of No. 9 Michigan State, the Cougars are still besting opponents by 17.2 points per game this year. BYU won 17 games by double-digits last year, including seven by 20 or more points, and was the only team in the Mountain West Conference to not have a regular-season game decided by less than four points. With an average scoring margin of +9.1 last season, the Cougars posted their largest margin of victory since 1993 over the course of the year.
BYU is shooting 48.8 percent from the field this season while allowing opponents to shoot just 37.3 percent from the floor. Overall, the Cougars have shot above 50 percent in five games this year. BYU has shot above 50 percent in the first half of five games this season and in the second half of six contests, marking 11 halves of play with a shooting percetage of 50 percent higher, including three above 60 percent. The Cougars posted a season-high 60.4 percent efficiency against Hartford bolstered by a 63.6 percent second-half shooting mark (14-for-22). The Cougars shot a season-high 65.2 percent in the second half at Portland, making their first seven shots of the period. BYU's first-half season high came Saturday against Pepperdine when the Cougars shot 62.1 percent from the field while building a 40-33 halftime lead over the Waves. Individually, three Cougars rank among the top 10 in the Mountain West Conference in field-goal percentage as Lee Cummard leads the league shooting 62.9 percent, Trent Plaisted ranks second at 60.2 percent and Jonathan Tavernari comes in ninth at 38.9 percent with a minimum of five shots made per game.
The Cougars are 9-1 this season when leading at the half with eight of the 10 advantages coming by double digits. BYU suffered its first loss of the year after holding a halftime lead with a 68-61 defeat against No. 9 Michigan State after a 35-25 lead at the break. No. 1 North Carolina was the first team this season to post a halftime lead against BYU with a 38-31 advantage at the break. The Cougars are besting opponents by an average of 12.7 points in the first period of play after while scoring at least 40 points in the first half of seven of 11 games this season. BYU has scored at least 30 points in the first half of every game this season while holding opponents under 30 points seven times. The BYU defense kept Long Beach State and Idaho State under 30 points, under 30 percent shooting from the field and under 10 field goals made in the first 20 minutes. The Cougars' 36-12 lead at the break in Long Beach marked their largest halftime advantage since being up by 28 points (51-23) against Western Oregon on Dec. 22, 2006. The 12 points given up by BYU in the first 20 minutes of the game at LBSU marked the fewest points allowed in a half by the Cougars since allowing a record-low 10 points against Air Force in 2003. BYU has topped 40 points in the second half of six games this year while surpassing the 50-point mark in the second half twice.
COUGARS BRING CHRISTMAS CHEER TO LOCAL FAMILIES
For the ninth year, the BYU men's basketball team joined the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation in an effort to raise money for families who have children with cancer and participate in the Foundation's annual Christmas party for those families. The Foundation has been collecting monetary donations and unwrapped toys since the beginning of December. One hundred percent of all donations to the Foundation went directly towards the Christmas party, which was held Wednesday for more than 90 families who have children with cancer living primarily in Utah County. A large portion of the money donated purchased hundreds of toys that will enable these parents to have gifts under the Christmas tree for their children. In addition to all of these toys, there was food, free entertainment, such as games and ornament decorating, and local celebrities including Santa, Cosmo and the BYU men's basketball team. This is the ninth year BYU coaches, players and their families have volunteered for the Christmas party. BYU head coach Dave Rose served as Honorary Chairman for the third year. "This has always been a cause I feel strongly about," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "It has been such a positive experience for the coaches, players and families and is a tremendous opportunity for community members to be involved in brightening the holiday season for these children." Cheryl Rose, vice chairman of the Foundation and wife of coach Rose, discussed the challenges these families face financially and how the Foundation hopes to help these families now and in the future. "For many of these families, it is financially impossible to always have food on the table, a roof over their heads or even have Christmas," Cheryl Rose said. "We want to create a Christmas experience that they will never forget and hopefully in the future help families meet those basic needs that they can't on their own." In addition to the presents the families received, Rose said the event is also a blessing for all of those involved. "This is the most exciting part of my job as the coach's wife," she said. "It's such a joy to be involved. Our lives are blessed so much by what happens here. We love these families and these children." Of course, the party, which started with just 15 families 10 years ago, would not be possible without the donations made by community members. "The support we get from the community makes this event possible," Cheryl Rose said. "We couldn't serve these children without the donations of time, money and gifts we receive. We even had some school children this year who drew pictures for the kids because they didn't have any money to donate but wanted to help. It's such an amazing experience to see the outpouring of love and support we get from the community. It really helps these parents know that they're not fighting this fight alone."
The BYU Athletics Department and former players will be presenting former Cougar head coach and current Southern Utah head coach Roger Reid with a plaque commemorating his return to the Marriott Center. The gift, which includes a piece of the original Marriott Center floor, will be presented prior to the start of the 6:30 p.m. game between the Cougars and Thunderbirds. Reid spent 11 years as an assistant with the BYU program before becoming the Cougars' head coach from 1989-96, compiling a 152-77 all-time record.