Rafael Araujo and the Cougars take an 10-2 record to Raleigh, N.C., to face the Wolfpack. It is the first meeting against NC State since 1955. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah -- BYU (10-2) concludes nonconference play Wednesday when it faces the North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-2) of the Atlantic Coast Conference at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. EST (6 p.m. MST).
BYU begins Mountain West Conference action Monday, Jan. 12, at San Diego State at 7 p.m. PST (8 p.m. MST). The game will be a SportsWest Productions telecast on KSL-TV, channel 5, in Salt Lake City.
GAME #13 FAST FACTS
BYU COUGARS (10-2, 0-0 MWC) @ NORTH CAROLINA STATE (7-2, 1-0 ACC)
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7, 2004
RBC CENTER (19,722)
8 p.m. EST (6 p.m. MST)
BYU, Steve Cleveland (118-80 in seventh year; same overall)
NCSU, Herb Sendek (134-100 in eighth year; 197-126 in 11th year overall)
NC State leads, 2-0 Last: NC State won 95-81 on Dec. 21, 1955 in Raleigh
Air Time: 8 p.m. EST (6 p.m. MST)
Play-by-Play: Dave O'Brien
Game Analyst: Brad Daugherty
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time: 7 p.m. EST (5 p.m. MST)
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Brian Santiago
Live audio and stats links are available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2003-04 schedule); live audio also available on KSL.com, via BYU Radio on Dish Network and at byuradio.org.
The Cougars have a 10-2 record including the Cable Car Classic title and wins over No. 25 Oklahoma State and the Pac-10's USC. They are the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference this year, returning four starters from last year's 23-9 co-championship team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Four-year starter Mark Bigelow and fellow senior Rafael Araujo were both named to the Preseason All-MWC Team. Senior guard Kevin Woodberry and junior forward Jared Jensen also were starters last season for BYU coach Steve Cleveland. Key newcomers include junior transfer Mike Hall and freshmen Mike Rose and Garner Meads. Araujo is scoring 20.7 points and 10.8 rebounds to lead BYU this year. Hall adds 13.4 points and 4.1 rebounds while Bigelow is contributes 12.7 points and 3.4 rebounds. First-year starter Luiz Lemes leads the team in assists (5.5). As a team, the Cougars shoot .513 from the floor, including .388 on threes, and .707 from the line while scoring 77.8 points per game. BYU allows 62.6 points while the opposition has shot .438 from the field and .341 from behind the arc. BYU has an average rebounding advantage of 6.9.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK
North Carolina State returns three starters, and two others with starting experience, among 10 lettermen from last year's 18-13 team that finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference (9-7) and has reached the ACC Tournament finals and earned NCAA Tournament invitations each of the past two seasons. This year NC State is off to a 7-2 start, including a 1-0 record in ACC play with a win over previously unbeaten Virginia. Wolfpack losses were both on the road, at Michigan (68-61) and at South Carolina (58-55). NC State is 7-0 at home with wins over UNC Asheville (71-46), Howard Bison (71-51), Florida A&M (92-62), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (77-71), Hartford (78-49), Virginia (86-69) and UNC Wilmington (68-50). First-team ACC swingman Julius Hodge (6-7, 191, Jr.) does everything for the Wolfpack, leading the team in scoring (18.9), rebounds (7.6) and assists (4.6) and is second in steals (1.4) and blocks (0.8). Versitale third-year starter Marcus Melvin (6-8, 230, Sr., F) is the team's second leading scorer (14.2) and rebounder (7.4) and top shot-blocker (1.2). Senior guard Scooter Sherrill (6-3, 186) adds 11.7 points and 3.0 rebounds while junior forward Levi Watkins (6-8, 227) contributes 9.9 points and 3.1 boards, primarily coming off the bench. Redshirt sophomore forward Ilian Evtimov (6-7, 231), who started 11 games as a freshman before sitting out last season with an injury, adds 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists. NC State shoots .454 from the floor, .321 from three-point range, and .760 from the line while scoring 73.2 points per game. Wolfpack opponents have combined to shoot .379 from the field and .248 on threes while averaging 58.2 points per outing. They do have a slight edge on the glass, pulling down 36.1 rebounds to NC State's 35.3. NC State is coached by Herb Sendek, who started his college coaching career as an assistant to Rick Patino at Providence and has been the head coach for the Wolfpack since 1996.
NC STATE'S LAST OUTING -- WOLFPACK DEFEATED UNC WILMINGTON SATURDAY
RALEIGH, N.C.-- Perhaps it should be no surprise that Saturday night's basketball tussle between UNC Wilmington and NC State turned into a tough, physical battle in which open shots were difficult to come by. After all, both clubs pride themselves in playing gritty halfcourt defense that puts a premium on protecting the paint and contesting jump shots. Getting 24 points and 12 rebounds from Julius Hodge and 22 points from Marcus Melvin, the Wolfpack (7-2) prevailed 68-50 in a game that was a lot closer than the final score might indicate. State appeared to be on the ropes with just over 12:00 remaining when a free throw by Aaron Combs pulled the Seahawks even at 39-39. Down by just six points at intermission, UNCW had outscored the Wolfpack 12-to-6 over the first eight minutes of the second half to grab the momentum. With just under 7:00 remaining, UNC Wilmington was still in it, trailing 47-44 following a 3-point basket by forward Mitch Laue. But that's when Hodge and Melvin put and end to the Seahawks' upset bid. Over the next two minutes, those two players would account for all of NC State's points during a 9-0 run that allowed that Wolfpack to open up a 56-44 advantage. The decisive scoring spree opened when Hodge - spotting up in front of his own bench -drilled a tough, contested 3-pointer that pushed a three-point lead out to six with 6:35 remaining. That shot also seemed to inspire the crowd and the NC State team the rest of the way. On the Pack's next possession, Melvin connected on a tough turnaround jumper from the baseline that made it 52-44. UNC Wilmington (5-5), which had held its first nine opponents to an average of just 58 points per game, had the Wolfpack offense well scouted and never allowed the Pack to get into a good offensive rhythm. NC State was just 6-of-20 from 3-point range and finished the game 21-of-46 overall for 45.7 percent. Most of that success, however, occurred over the last 8:37 when the Wolfpack outscored UNCW 21-6. But Sendek's team wasn't about to give an inch on the defensive end either. Holding the Seahawks to 35.4 percent shooting (17-48), the Wolfpack yielded just three field goals over the last nine minutes. The Pack was also stellar from the free throw line, where it connected on 20-of-24, including 13-of-16 in the second half. Between them, Hodge and Melvin were a perfect 17-of-17 from the line. The Seahawks, who upset Southern California in the NCAA Tournament two years ago and nearly did the same thing in the first round against Maryland last March, were hardly overwhelmed by the ACC-like atmosphere they encountered at the RBC Center on Saturday night. And when they pulled even at the 12:09 mark, they had succeeded in putting the pressure squarely on the shoulders of NC State. Along with Hodge and Melvin, Ilian Evtimov also reached double figures for NC State with 10 points. The Seahawks got 10 points off the bench from Georgia Tech transfer Halston Lane. UNC Wilmington guard John Goldsberry, who set an NCAA Tournament record with eight 3-pointers in that faithful Maryland game last year, missed all four of his field goal attempts and was held scoreless. NC State was without the services of forward Levi Watkins, who sat out the game with a pulled muscle in his lower leg.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE'S PROJECTED STARTERS (BASED ON LAST GAME)
POS. # NAME HT. WT. YR. PPG RPG
F 3 Ilian Evtimov 6-7 231 So. 6.7 3.8
F 54 Marcus Melvin 6-8 230 Sr. 14.2 7.4
F/G 24 Julius Hodge 6-7 191 Jr. 18.9 7.6
G 23 Scooter Sherrill 6-3 186 Sr. 11.7 3.0
G 14 Engin Atsur 6-3 185 Fr. 4.2 1.8
BYU vs. NC STATE SERIES BREAKDOWN
Overall Series Record: North Carolina State leads 2-0
BYU Record in Provo: N/A
BYU Record at North Carolina State: 0-2
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record Under Steve Cleveland: N/A
BYU Record in Overtime Games: N/A
Longest BYU Win Streak: N/A
Longest N.C State Win Streak: 2 (1952-present)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: N/A
Largest N.C State Margin of Victory: 16, 75-59
Most Points Scored by BYU: 81 in 1955
Most Points Scored by N.C State: 95 in 1955
Date Opponent Score W/L
12-31-52 at N.C. State* 59-75 L
12-21-55 at N.C State 81-95 L
BYU vs. THE ACC
The last time the Cougars played an ACC team was on Dec. 28, 1997. In Steve Cleveland's first season after taking over a 1-25 BYU program, the Cougars fell 72-58 to Virginia in Hawaii the night before upsetting Ohio State, 72-65. BYU finished the season 9-21. BYU's last victory against an ACC school was an NCAA Tournament triumph, 61-48, over Virginia on March 14, 1991 in Salt Lake City. BYU lost in the next round to Arizona, 76-61, to finish the year with a 21-13 record. Between the two Virginia games, BYU suffered neutral court defeats to Duke in 1992 and North Carolina in 1993. The last time BYU faced an ACC school on the ACC team's homecourt was on Dec. 20, 1976 when BYU lost at North Carolina, 113-93. BYU is 5-13 against ACC teams all-time, with a 5-9 neutral court record and an 0-4 away mark. Next year's NC State game in Provo will be the first time an ACC team has traveled to play BYU on its home floor. The only ACC school BYU has never played is Maryland.
BYU RECORD vs. THE ACC ...
Georgia Tech 0-1
Florida State 1-0
NC State 0-2
North Carolina 0-3
Wake Forest 1-2
*includes forfeited victory
NC STATE QUICK FACTS
Location: Raleigh NC
Colors: Red and White
Home Arena: RBC Center (19,722)
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
Athletic Director: Lee Fowler
Head Coach: Herb Sendek
Alma Mater: Carnegie Mellon '85
Best Time to Call: Contact SID
Office Phone: 919 515-2104
Overall Record (Years): 197-126 (11th Year)
Record at School (Years): 134-100 (8th Year)
Assistant Coaches: Larry Harris, Mark Phelps, Larry Hunter
Over all Record: 18-13
Conference Record/Finish: 9-7 (4th)
Final Ranking/Post Season: NCAA Tournament
Letterman Returning/Lost: 10/2
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
Leading Scorer Returning
Julius Hodge (F/G, 6-6, Jr.) 17.7 Ppg.
Leading REBOUNDER Returning
Julius Hodge (F/G, 6-6, Jr.) 6.1 Rpg.
Basketball Contact: Annabelle Vaughn
Office: 919 515-2102
Home: 919 858-9763
Fax: 919 515-2898
Press Row: 919 861-6190
Web Site: www.gopack.com
BYU'S LAST OUTING -- DEFENSE SPARKS COUGAR VICTORY OVER SAINT MARY'S
PROVO -- Mark Bigelow scored a season-high 18 points and BYU recorded a season-high nine blocks, to pull away late, for a 70-55 win over Saint Mary's Friday night at the Marriott Center. The win improves the Cougars to 10-2, while the Gaels fall to 8-6. Senior center Rafael Araujo led the block parade with a career-high five rejections, and barely missed his ninth double of the year with 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Luiz Lemes also had 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting and making both his 3-point attempts. "I thought we were a step slow in the first half, but we executed our game plan," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "We did a great job on penetration, and our post guys did a nice job holding their guys under double figures. "It shows a lot because this is a good team. I would give the game ball to our team defense." The first half was closely played as neither team could muster a significant run. BYU held the lead for most of the first half, but for every Cougar surge the Gaels seemed to have an answer to stem the BYU tide. BYU's biggest lead of the half was seven points at 29-22, after senior guard Mark Bigelow made a trey at the 3:58 mark. From there Saint Mary's would finish the half on a toughly contested 11-6 run, as BYU went into the locker room with a slim 35-33 lead. Bigelow and Araujo were both 5-for-10 shooting in the half with 14 and 11 points, respectively, to lead BYU. The Cougars have been a strong second-half team of late, and they didn't disappoint against the Gaels coming out of the half with a 9-0 run to take control of the game. Lemes had the first seven points on a variety of shots as he made a fast-break lay-up, a trey out of the left corner and a shot from the top of the key. At 44-33, BYU took its largest lead of the game up to that point, but as was the case for most of the game, the Gaels fought back to narrow the Cougar lead into single digits. BYU proved too tough for Saint Mary's to handle down the stretch, though, as the Cougars made clutch shots and kept the Gaels at bay with solid team defense. Lemes stepped up and poured in 15 of his 17 points in the second half. "Luiz Lemes gave us a great spark in the second half when we needed it," Cleveland said. "He had his hands full guarding E.J. Rowland. I think in the second half Luiz rose to the occasion offensively and defensively." The Gaels scoring was balanced, but they were unable to find a go to scorer as BYU prevented them from registering a double-digit scorer. Saint Mary's was led on the night by Jonathan Sanders' nine points. Rowland, the Gaels' second-leading scorer was held to six points on 2-of-12 shooting. "I thought we played well on Araujo," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Our intent was not to double-team him. We just played him straight up. He's an all-around good player, but Lemes was the difference in the game. "I thought BYU is one of the five-best teams in the West." The Cougars' previous season high in blocks was six.
COUGARS WIN CABLE CAR CLASSIC TITLE, ARAUJO MVP
SANTA CLARA -- With its top three post players fouled out of the game, BYU looked to Mark Bigelow and he delivered a slashing bucket-and-one with 14.9 seconds remaining to lead the Cougars to a 68-66 win over host Santa Clara to claim the Cable Car Classic title at the Leavey Center. Senior center Rafael Araujo again loomed large, posting his eighth double-double in nine games with 18 points and 12 rebounds -- with all 18 points scored in the second half. Araujo was named the Cable Car Classic Most Valuable Player after combining for 41 points and 23 boards in the two Cougar wins. With its title this year, BYU won for the third time in four Cable Car appearances to tie the University of San Francisco for the second-most Cable Car Classic titles and the most of any non-Bay Area team. SCU leads with 13 titles and the Cougars have beaten the Broncos for each of their three titles. BYU also breaks SCU's six-game winning streak in the tournament, as the Broncos won the previous two titles.
ARAUJO AMONG TOP NATIONAL STATISTICAL LEADERS
Senior center Rafael Araujo is sixth in the nation in rebounds (10.9), tied for 18th in scoring (21.0) and is 18th in field goal percentage (.664) through games played Dec. 30th.
BYU IN THE POLLS
After being listed 29th in the Associated Press Poll and 33rd in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll prior to its two-point loss at Utah State, the Cougars were listed 39th in the past week's AP Poll. The new polls come out Monday (Jan. 5). BYU was last ranked in the Top 25 during the 1992-93 season when the Cougars earned a No. 21 ranking. The last time BYU finished the year ranked was the 1987-88 season.
BYU has a current three-game winning streak. The Cougars achieved a six-game victory streak prior to its loss at Utah State on Dec. 23. That streak is the team's longest winning streak since the 2001-02 season when the Cougars recorded a Cleveland-era-best eight-game victory streak, which included a win over No. 13 Stanford. This year's six-game streak included a win over No. 25 Oklahoma State and the Pac-10's USC. It is the third time under Cleveland that the Cougars have won six straight. The other six-game winning streak was in 2000-2001.
CLEVELAND NOW FIFTH ON BYU VICTORY LIST; THIRD IN MARRIOTT CENTER WINS
With BYU's seventh win this season, Cougar head coach Steve Cleveland moved into fifth on BYU's career coaching victories list. He moved past Ladell Andersen (114-71 record from 1983-89). Cleveland now has a 118-80 record in his seventh season in Provo. Legendary Cougar coach Stan Watts has the most wins in school history with 372 triumphs from 1949-72. Ott Romney (1927-35) and Roger Reid (1989-96) both achieved 152 victories and Frank Arnold (1975-83) is fourth with 137 wins. Cleveland currently has the third-most wins in the Marriott Center with a 77-18 record in the Cougars' home arena. Reid has the most Marriott Center wins with 92, followed by Arnold with 81. Andersen is fourth with 71.
CLEVELAND GETTING IT DONE (2003 MWC COACH OF THE YEAR)
BYU coach Steve Cleveland was named MWC Coach of the Year in 2003. At 23-9 last year, BYU achieved its fourth straight postseason tournament invitation and third 20-win season in the last four years. Only eight BYU teams have ever achieved more wins in a season than last year's team. The BYU record for wins is 28 (9 losses) in 1951 when the Cougars won the national title as NIT champs. The 2002-03 season was Cleveland's third 20-win season in the last four years, including a 24-9 record in 2001. The only BYU coaches to have more 20-win seasons are Stan Watts (7) and Roger Reid (6). Cleveland joins Frank Arnold and Ladell Andersen with three 20-win seasons.
BIGELOW NOW NO. 10 SCORER ALL-TIME AT BYU
Senior Mark Bigelow moved out of a tie with Jay Cheesman (1,408 points from 1974-77) in 10th place on BYU's all-time scoring list against Utah State. He surpassed current BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson (1,388 points from 1985, 88-90) against USC after overtaking Roland Minson (1,375 from 1949-51) against Western Oregon. Bigelow needs 49 points to pass former Cougar great Kresimir Cosic, who scored 1,512 points in only three season from 1971-73.
ARAUJO ACHIEVED DOUBLE-DOUBLE MARKS
Araujo tied an MWC record by posting five consecutive double-doubles starting with the UVSC game until his streak ended with his 23 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes against Weber State Saturday. He tied the Mountain West record held by former Wyoming Cowboy Uche Nsonwu-Amadi. Nsonwu-Amadi recorded five in a row from the last game of the 2001-02 season through his first four appearances in 2002-03. Araujo is the only MWC player to record five consecutive double-doubles in the same season. During his five-game double-double streak, Araujo averaged 26 points and 13.6 rebounds. He has a current streak of three straighth double-doubles and, achieving double digits in points and rebounds now in eigh of the last nine games. He has eight double-doubles this year and 16 for his career.
ARAUJO BECAME FIRST BACK-TO-BACK MWC WEEKLY PLAYER AWARD WINNER (DEC. 7-DEC. 13)
BYU senior center Rafael Araujo captured Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week after leading the Cougars to victories over Western Oregon (92-56) and Southern California (85-61). Araujo is the first MWC player to win the award on back-to-back weeks since the inception of the MWC in 1999-2000. This is Araujo's third career player of the week honor. In two games last week, Araujo, a Sao Paulo, Brazil (Arizona Western) native, averaged 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, while shooting 64 percent from the floor. He scored 15 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked two shots in just 25 minutes of action against Western Oregon. In the 14-point victory over USC, Araujo netted 28 points, 11 boards and two steals. He hit 10-of-15 field goals, including a career-best two three pointers.
ARAUJO EARNED ESPN NATIONAL PLAYER SUPPORTING CAST RECOGNITION (DEC. 7-DEC. 13)
BYU senior center Rafael Araujo was regognized as one of the nation's top performers last week as supporting cast mention to ESPN's weekly national player honor. Araujo was one of seven players singled out by ESPN for outstanding play. ESPN also acknowledged it was the second consecutive week Araujo deserved the honor, stating, "OK, we admit we messed up by not including Araujo last week in the supporting cast." Araujo was named national player of the week that week by both the Sporting News and Collegeinsider.com.
ARAUJO EARNED NATIONAL, CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS (NOV. 30-DEC. 6)
BYU senior center Rafael Araujo was named the National Player of the Week by The Sporting News and by Collegeinsider.com for the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 6 after recording two double-doubles in victories at Boise State (75-69) and against 25th-ranked Oklahoma State (76-71). He was also named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 31.5 points and 15.5 rebounds, while shooting 71.4 percent from the floor and 76.7 percent from the free throw line. In the win at Boise State, Araujo scored 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. He made 10-of-13 attempts from the field and earned 14 trips to the free throw line, knocking down 11. In the victory over Oklahoma State at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Araujo scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. He made 10-of-15 field goals and 12-of-16 free throws on the day and scored 26 of the Cougars' 40 second half points. His 17 rebounds, one shy of the entire OSU team, led the way for BYU as it dominated the boards against the Cowboys, 44-18.
ARAUJO IN 30-30 CLUB
Rafael Araujo scored back-to-back, 30 points games with his 31 points at Boise State and career-best 32 points against No. 25 Oklahoma State at the Delta Center. Araujo became the first Cougar to accomplish the feat since Terrell Lyday scored 35 points in a win at Utah State and followed that with a 30-point effort in a win at UNLV in January 2000.
FRESHMAN ROSE SETS THREE-POINT RECORD IN HIS COLLEGE DEBUT
It didn't take long for freshman Mike Rose to put his name in the BYU record book. In his college debut, the true freshman guard out of Houston set a new BYU single-game record with eight 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 26 points to lead the Cougars to an 88-54 win over Southern Utah University. His 26 points is the most scored by a BYU freshman since Mark Bigelow totaled 33 points at Washington State in 1998. Rose's eight 3-pointers broke the BYU record of seven threes in a game, previously set by Nick Sanderson (1992) and Danny Bower (1998). Rose's performance behind the arc was just shy of tying the Marriott Center's record of nine 3-pointers in a game held by Utah State's Jay Goodman (1990). Rose also dished out six assists with only one turnover and added two rebounds and one steal in his 22 minutes off the bench. He made 61.5 percent of his 3-point attempts, going 8-of-13 from behind the arc, and finished 9-for-16 (.563) overall from the floor against Southern Utah's match-up zone. He scored 17 points in 11 first-half minutes on 6-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-7 on threes. He broke the school record with 7:01 left in the second half on a three taken several feet behind the arc. He made 5-of-10 threes and scored 14 points in 18 minutes against Western Oregon and went 4-for-4, including 3-of-3 on threes, for 11 points in nine minutes vs. USC.
For the second straight season, the Cougars will play more nonconference games away from Provo than they will in the friendly confines of the Marriott Center where BYU has won 55 of its last 56 games, including 40 straight over non-league teams. This year, BYU has played six games at home and will play its seventh out-of-town contest when it concludes nonconference play at NC State Wednesday. BYU is 6-0 at home this year and 4-2 away from Provo, with a 2-0 neutral court mark and a 2-2 record in an opponent's arena. Among those games include a neutral court win over then No. 25 Oklahoma State; a win at now 9-2 Boise State; and a victory over host Santa Clara to win the Cable Car Classic. Last season BYU played seven home games and eight away from the Marriott Center while earning an 11-4 record before starting Mountain West Conference play. BYU finished 4-4 away from home last year during nonconference play. The Cougars went 3-1 on a neutral floor, including a 3-0 mark to win the Paradise Jam, and were 1-3 in true away games, with a win over Arizona State.
IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER
BYU is 6-0 at home this year and has won 11 straight overall in the Marriott Center. BYU has won 55 of its last 56 games at home and is 50-1 over in the past four seasons. BYU finished last season 13-1 at home in 2002-03. Lone senior Travis Hansen concluded his three seasons as a Cougar having lost only once at home. BYU earned a 44-1 record in Hansen's three years at BYU -- the best three-year home record in school history. The second-best home record over three years was a 39-2 mark from 1979-81 in Danny Ainge's final three seasons. The 44-1 record over the prior three seasons is the school's best-ever three-year home record. BYU won a school-record 44 straight home games in the Marriott Center before losing to Utah, 79-75, on Jan. 25. The streak was the longest active streak in the country over parts the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. BYU continues its string of nonconference home wins.
NONCONFERENCE VICTORY STREAK IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER
The Cougars have defeated 40 straight non-conference opponents in the Marriott Center since starting the streak with a 61-59 win over Utah State on Jan. 2, 1999. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998.
Rafael Araujo and Jared Jensen are in their second season as teammates. When the two post players make major contributions BYU usually achieves victory. BYU is 4-1, 4-0 last season, when Araujo and Jensen both contribute 10 or more points in a game. The Cougars are 14-4, 8-1 this year, when Araujo leads the team in scoring and 12-4, 7-1 this season, when Araujo posts a double-double. BYU is 10-2 (0-1 this season) when Jared Jensen scores double-digit points from his forward slot.
COUGAR FANS SHOWING SUPPORT
BYU is ahead of last year's attendance pace with an average crowd of 13,340 after six nonconference games. Last year BYU averaged the 17th largest crowd in the nation overall at 14,468. The NCAA announced that BYU achieved the nation's largest average increase over the prior season in 2001-2002 (during the middle of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City). BYU's 22,702 attendance vs. CSU in its last home game last year was the largest crowd since 1992 and the 21st largest crowd in school history.
Facing then No. 25 Oklahoma State, BYU played its first top-25 ranked team this season. The victory over the Cowboys was BYU's first over a top-25 team since an 81-76 victory over No. 13 Stanford on Dec. 22, 2001 at the Las Vegas Showdown.
RECORD AGAINST TOP TEAMS
BYU is 2-2 this year against teams that qualified for postseason last year (21-point win over Weber State at home; five-point win over Oklahoma State on a neutral floor; two-point loss at Utah State; one-point loss at Cal). BYU finished last season with a 7-2 record against teams that were conference champions the prior season. BYU went 12-6 last year against teams that qualified for postseason play in 2002. BYU played 12 games last year against eight teams that earned an invitation to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. BYU had a 5-7 record in those games (UConn 0-1, Arizona State 1-0, San Diego 1-0, Utah State 1-0, Colorado State 2-1, Weber State 0-1, Creighton 0-1, Oklahoma State 0-1, Utah 0-2). Seven of BYU's nine losses in 2002-03 came against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. UNLV and San Francisco were the two teams to beat BYU that didn't advance to the NCAA tournament.
BYU STARTING LINEUPS RECORD
Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Jensen, Araujo 4-1
Lemes, Woodberry, Hall, Bigelow, Araujo 3-0
Lemes, Woodberry, Bigelow, Jensen, Araujo 1-1
Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Meads, Araujo 2-0
CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...
At home 11-0
On the road 1-0
On a neutral floor 2-0
At home vs. Nonconference 40-0
At home vs. MWC 5-0
On the road vs. Nonconference 1-0
On the road vs. MWC 2-0
On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 2-0
On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1
BYU LANDS TOP-20 RECRUITING CLASS
Four highly regarded high school recruits signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at BYU during the November signing period. Rated one of the top-20 recruiting classes nationally and the third-best class in the West, BYU received official commitments from top prospects David Burgess (Irvine, Calif.), Lee Cummard (Mesa, Ariz.), Chris Miles (Provo, Utah) and Trent Plaisted (San Antonio, Texas).
BYU PICKED AS FAVORITE TO CLAIM 2004 MWC CROWN
Bigelow, Araujo selected to preseason All-MWC team
The Mountain West Conference released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-conference team at the league's media day being held at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. The league media selected BYU to claim the Mountain West Conference men's basketball title with 144 total points and 13 of the possible 19 first-place votes. Utah was picked second with 138 points and was the only other team to garner first place votes with six. Defending MWC Tournament Champion Colorado State came in third with 107 points, followed by UNLV fourth with 97. Wyoming placed fifth with 73 points, followed by San Diego State (55), New Mexico (36), and Air Force (35). BYU has earned a share of the conference titles in 2001 and 2003, but this is the first time in more than 10 years the Cougars have been the preseason MWC favorites. The Cougars and Utes shared the conference's regular season crown last season with 11-3 records. BYU went 23-9 overall and fell to Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Utah finished the 2002-03 season 25-8, defeating Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kentucky in the second round. The Mountain West Conference has sent six of its eight teams to the postseason each of the past two seasons and is the only league in the country to have sent 75 percent of its members to the postseason two straight years. BYU seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo were selected to the preseason first-team All-MWC team. Other athletes picked were Utahs Tim Frost and Nick Jacobson, Air Force's Tim Keller and the top MWC returnee Matt Nelson from CSU.
BYU SCHEDULE INCLUDES ACC, BIG XII AND PAC-10 OPPONENTS
Potential matchups with six nonconference opponents that made the 2003 NCAA Tournament, including teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big XII Conference and Pac-10 Conference, an appearance in the Cable Car Classic, and 15 overall contests against teams that qualified for postseason play last year highlight the 2003-04 BYU men's basketball schedule. "We look forward to what should be a very challenging schedule with more than half our games being against teams that qualified for postseason last year," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "We face some very talented teams during nonconference and every game is a battle during the Mountain West season."
COUGARS COMING OFF SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TOUR TO AUSTRALIA
Getting an early jump on the upcoming season, BYU participated in a six-game tour of Australia against professional teams in Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. "Four years ago when we went to Europe it helped us get a head start on the season," BYU Coach Steve Cleveland said. "This was a nice opportunity to implement our system and give the players some good experience. Everyone got a chance to play significant minutes." BYU earned the first of four consecutive postseason tournament berths under Cleveland in 2000 after its summer 1999 trip to England, Croatia and Italy. The NCAA allows a foreign tour once every four years. The team was also allowed 10 additional practice days to prepare for the trip. All of last year's returning players were allowed to make the trip, including redshirt freshmen Austin Ainge and Garner Meads. Newcomers Mike Hall and Michael Rose, along with returning missionary Derek Dawes, were not eligible for the trip. The Cougars played six games in seven nights, posting a 4-2 record. Senior Mark Bigelow led the team, scoring 21.6 points in 27 minutes per game. Senior center Rafael Araujo added 14.0 ppg and a team-high 7.7 rpg in 20 minutes of action. Redshirt freshman Garner Meads scored 9.3 ppg and pulled down 6.0 rpg. The tour also includes visits to the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach and the Great Barrier Reef.
BYU's lone departing senior in 2003, guard Travis Hansen, was selected 37th overall in 2003 NBA Draft and has signed a two-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks. BYU rates second among Mountain West Conference teams with 42 NBA Draft selections after UNLV's 49.
WINNING BASKETBALL TRADITION
With its all-time record of 1460-933 (.610), BYU is the ranked 40th all-time in winning percentage among all Division I basketball programs. In terms of total wins, BYU is in the top 25. The Cougars have had 81 winning seasons in their 101 years of basketball and have made 29 postseason appearances, including 20 NCAA bids, and won 26 conference championships.
NCAA TOURNAMENT TRADITION
BYU appeared in its 20th NCAA Tournament with its at-large invite in 2003. BYU coach Steve Cleveland has guided the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament twice (in the last three years) in his six years at the helm since taking over a program that was 1-25 the season before his arrival. He has led BYU to postseason play in each of the last four years.
In 2002-03, BYU earned its fourth straight postseason berth and second NCAA bid in the last three years while claiming a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title for the second time in the last three years. Playing among the nation's toughest schedules, including 11 different conferences on its non-league slate, the Cougars finished the year with a 23-9 overall record, going 11-4 through the pre-conference schedule before earning a share of the MWC regular season title with Utah at 11-3. The Cougars went 1-1 at the MWC Tournament before losing to No. 5-seed Connecticut at the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash. BYU went 13-1 at home and 10-8 away, including a 4-3 neutral record and 6-5 road mark. The Cougars had the MWC's top defense and also won the preseason Paradise Jam title in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. BYU was led by senior guard Travis Hansen, junior swingman Mark Bigelow and junior center Rafael Araujo. Hansen, one of two first-team All-MWC consensus players, led the team in scoring (16.8) and blocks (20) and was second in assists (2.4) and rebounds (4.8). Bigelow, a third-team All-MWC selection, was second in scoring (13.9), third in rebounding (3.7) and the team's top three-point shooter (63). Araujo, a third-team All-MWC pick, was the third-leading scorer (12.0) and top rebounder (8.9). Sophomore forward Jared Jensen, who received All-MWC honorable mention, added 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while JC transfer Kevin Woodberry averaged 6.3 points and 2.5 assists at the point.