BYU (10-3) opens Mountain West Conference play Saturday when it hosts San Diego State (10-4) at 4 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The game is being televised by SportsWest Productions on KSL, channel 5, in Salt Lake City, while the radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant calling the action on the Cougar Sports Network.
BYU hosts UNLV Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center before going on the road to New Mexico and Air Force. The game against the Rebels will be televised by SportsWest productions on KSL, channel 5, in Salt Lake City.
GAME 14 FACTS
Saturday, Jan. 12, 2001
BYU (10-3, 0-0) vs. San Diego State (10-4, 0-0)
Marriott Center [22,700]
4:07 p.m. MT
BYU, Steve Cleveland (77-60 in fifth year; same overall)
SDSU, Steve Fisher (29-41 in third year; 240-123 in 11th year overall)
Series: BYU leads, 34-13
SportsWest Productions (KSL 5 in SLC)
Air Time: 4 p.m. MT
SportsWest Play-by-Play: Tom Kirkland
SportsWest Game Analyst: Craig Hislop
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time - 3 p.m. MT
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Mark Durrant
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Mark Bigelow 6-7 190 So. 17.8 3.2
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-9 215 Sr. 10.4 5.3
C 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 245 Fr. 8.4 3.7
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Jr. 15.7 7.7
G 31 Matt Montague 6-0 190 Sr. 6.5 7.2 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 20 Daniel Bobik 6-6 205 So. 9.2 3.2
G 22 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 200 Fr. 4.8 1.7
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 So. 0.8 2.1
C 40 Dan Howard 7-0 225 So. 0.7 1.1
G 10 Terry Nashif 5-10 165 Fr. 0.6 0.8 apg
C 42 Jon Carlisle 6-10 260 So. 1.9 2.0
F 4 Jesse Pinegar 6-9 225 Fr. 0.4 0.6
G 12 Shawn Opunui (OUT/INJURY) 5-11 175 Fr. 1.5 2.8 apg
Scouting San Diego State
San Diego State has won six of its last seven games and is 10-4 overall. San Diego State has started the same lineup in the last seven consecutive games. Since switching to the group of Brandon Smith (5.1 ppg. 3.6 apg), Randy Holcomb (18.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg), Mike Mackell (8.6 ppg), Tony Bland (17.8 ppg) and Al Faux (18.8 ppg), the Aztecs are 6-1 with the lone loss coming at top-ranked Duke. The 13-point loss to the Blue Devils marked the smallest margin of victory by the Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. Randy Holcomb scored 30 points and had 14 to lead San Diego State to an 82-79 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday night. San Diego State went on a 17-3 run early in the second, but Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-9) mounted a strong comeback that fell short at the buzzer. Brian Hamilton, who led for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with 20 points, threw up a 3-point attempt from half court at the buzzer. The ball banked off the backboard, sealing the win for San Diego State. Randy Holcomb recorded his eighth double-double of the season and the 14th of his career against the Islanders on Tuesday. The senior has double-doubles in consecutive games and in three of the last four Aztec contests. Holcomb's 30 points were not only a season high but they also tied his career best set during his freshmen season at Fresno State and were also the most by an Aztec player this season. Holcomb's 14 rebounds were the second most of his career, trailing the 15-rebound performance at Duke earlier this season. He also added three blocked shots in the contest. Al Faux scored 24 points and added five rebounds. It was the 12th consecutive double-figure scoring-game dating back to last season. Faux has scored 20 or more points in five of his 10 games this season. Tony Bland scored 18 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. It was the 13th double-figure scoring game for the junior this season and the 29th of his career. His six rebounds were a season-high and tied a career-best. The Aztecs are currently riding their second, three-game winning streak of the season. This is the first time since the 1996-97 campaign that SDSU has had two three-game winning streaks in the same season. This is the latest in the season the Aztecs have won at least three consecutive regular-season games since the 1988-89 campaign. San Diego State is 3-4 in road/neutral games this season. The three road/neutral victories this season are more than the Aztecs had in the previous three seasons combined when SDSU was 2-33. The three wins in seven road/neutral games this season equal the total number of wins in the 41 road/neutral games prior to this season when San Digeo State went 3-38. Coupled with the win over Hawaii, San Diego State has won two of its last three road games for the first time since the 1997-98 season. San Diego State had gone 44 consecutive road games without a stretch of winning two out of three. San Diego State is 20-7 against non-Mountain West Conference competition since the beginning of the 2000-01 season. San Diego State is 24-18 since the beginning of the 2000-01 season. The 24 victories equal the total number of wins the Aztecs had in the 96 games prior to the 2000-01 season when SDSU went 24-72. SDSU rallied from a halftime deficit for third time this season and just the sixth time in the Fisher era to defeat Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The Aztecs are 3-3 this season when trailing at the half and 6-34 in the Fisher era. In 14 games this season, only twice have the Aztecs been outscored in the second half (at San Diego and at Duke). After shooting 50 percent or better just 11 times in Steve Fisher's first two seasons, the Aztecs cleared the mark for the sixth time in 14 games this season. SDSU is 4-2 in the 2001-02 campaign and 13-4 in the Fisher era when connecting on at least 50 percent from the floor. San Diego State entered the this week ranked 13th nationally in field goal percentage. The Aztecs out boarded TAMCC 42-40 rebound. SDSU is 7-1 this season and 19-8 in the Fisher era when outrebounded the opponent.
BYU leads the overall series 34-13 and has won the last seven games in the series since losing in Provo, 89-86 in overtime on Dec. 31, 1996, during the 1-25 season of 1996-97. The last meeting, a 69-66 BYU win in San Diego, was the closest contest in the last seven outings. The series began in 1941.
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 34-13
BYU Record in Provo: 20-2
BYU Record in San Diego: 14-11
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 7-0
Longest BYU Win Streak: 11 (1990-95)
Longest SDSU Win Streak: 3 (1941-77)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 40, 106-66 in 1982
Largest SDSU Margin of Victory: 19, 89-70 in 1985
Most Points Scored by BYU: 123 in 1980
Most Points Scored by SDSU: 104 in 1977
Cougars Topped Aztecs 79-50 in Provo to Open MWC Season Last Year
PROVO -- The BYU men's basketball team, led by senior guard Terrell Lyday, soundly defeated a much-improved 10-4 San Diego State Aztec team in front of a loud crowd at the Marriott Center. The final score of 79-50 totaled a 29 point victory for BYU, the second highest margin of victory for the Cougars during the 2000-2001 campaign. "We just got a good old fashioned whipping today," said San Diego State coach Steve Fisher. "They were very good. We gave them a few easy shots in the beginning and then they just took over from there. We couldn't stop them." The Cougars utilized a hot hand from the perimeter, shooting 13 for 26 from the three point arc, to hand the Aztecs their second conference loss in as many games. The 13 three point field goals made by BYU tied a Cougar record set against LSU in 1992 and TCU in 1999. Specifically, Lyday and Trent Whiting found the range early and often, shooting a combined 10 for 14 on 3 point field goals. The prolific starting backcourt for BYU of Lyday (15 ppg) and Whiting (15 ppg) scored 24 and 17 points respectively, as Lyday just missed a season high in only 22 minutes of action. He scored 25 in a game against Boise State at the Yahoo Sports Invitational. BYU coach Steve Cleveland cited the layoff between games as an asset for the Cougars in preparing for the Saturday afternoon Mountain West Conference opener. "Four or five days to prepare for a game does make a difference, especially offensively," Cleveland said. "Our preparation for tonight was the difference. We made baskets tonight and we defended well and when you do that, it is fun to watch." Two-time MWC Player of the Week, Robert Holcomb was held in check by the Cougars stifling defense. Holcomb scored 13 points, almost 5 points below his season average. Cleveland commented on the defensive effort his team put forth. "The guys who played the first 30 minutes played very well," Cleveland said. "We defended well and had lots of energy and that is what it is going to take to win." Mekeli Wesley, BYU's senior forward and leading scorer (16.0 ppg), switched roles for the win. Wesley dished out a season high 5 assists, just one short of his career high. Freshman forward Jacob Chrisman also enjoyed career highs in both rebounds (8) and minutes (20) to contribute to the Cougar victory.
BYU Edged SDSU 69-66 To Earn Its First Conference Road Victory Last Year
SAN DIEGO -- Trent Whiting and Mekeli Wesley scored 21 points each Monday to lead BYU to its first conference road win of the season. The Cougars defeated San Diego State 69-66 at Cox Arena to improve to 17-7 overall and 6-3 in Mountain West play. "San Diego State played with purpose, took care of the ball and defended us better than they ever have," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "The character of this (BYU) team showed in the last 20 minutes. Mekeli and Trent made some big shots and Terrell (Lyday) was playing on one leg. I am proud of their effort. In order to win on the road you have to make plays." The game was tight throughout with nine lead changes and 10 ties but the Cougars were able to make the big plays down the stretch to earn the breakthrough road victory. After the Aztecs scored the first bucket of the second half to take their biggest lead of the game at 33-24, Wesley and Whiting went to work scoring six points apiece to help the Cougars narrow the gap to 40-38 with 15 minutes remaining. BYU was finally able to even the score at 48 when Nate Knight took a feed from Wesley for an easy lay-in at the 10:18 mark. A little over two minutes later BYU took its first lead since the opening minute of the game when Whiting made two free throws to give BYU a 52-50 advantage. While BYU had failed to make plays at the end its three conference road losses this year, this time around Cougar players came through in the clutch. With the Aztecs leading 63-62, Nathan Cooper dove to the ground for a loose ball to end a San Diego State possession and prevent the Aztecs from building on their slim lead. Whiting put the Cougars back on top for good at 65-63 by hitting his third three of the game with just over a minute remaining. A steal by Eric Nielsen after a San Diego State defensive rebound forced San Diego State to foul, with Wesley and Whiting each making free throws to seal the Cougar win. "I think it is obvious at halftime that they decided to be more aggressive on the offensive end," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "They did a better job of going to Mekeli and we didn't do as good a job of running at him." The fourth rated free throw shooting team in the nation, BYU went 19-20 from the line while shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent on three-point attempts. After Wesley and Whiting's game-high 21 points, Lyday added 11 and Nielsen and Daniel Bobik chipped in six points apiece. Whiting pulled down a game-high seven rebounds. San Diego State shot a strong 51.1 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent on threes, while also missing only once from the line, going 15-16 from the charity stripe. It was the first time this year the Aztecs have shot better than 50 percent and lost and the first time BYU has won a game in which the opponent has made 50 percent from the floor. The Cougars have only allowed five teams to make half of their shots in a game this year. Marcelo Correa scored 18 points to led the Aztecs with Al Faux and Randy Holcomb contributing 15 and 13 points, respectively. Myron Epps pulled down a team-high six rebounds. The Aztecs are now 1-8 in conference play and 11-11 overall.
SDSU Quick Facts:
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Colors: Scarlet and Black
Home Arena: Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl
Conference: Mountain West
Athletic Director: Rick Bay
Head Coach: Steve Fisher
Alma Mater: Illinois State (1967)
Best time to call: Contact SID
Office Phone: (619) 594-6249
Overall Record (Years): 240-123 (11th)
Record at School (Years): 29-41 (3rd)
Assistant Coaches: Brian Dutcher, Marvin Menzies, Jim Tomey
Overall Record: 14-14
Conf. Record/Finish: 4-10/7th
Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: NA
Letterman Returning/Lost: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
Returning Starters (last year's stats)
Myron Epps, 6-6, 210, Sr., F (11.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Randy Holcomb, 6-9, 219, Sr., F (15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Deandre Moore, 5-9, 179, Jr., G (6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Al Faux, 6-2, 186, Sr., G (10.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
Basketball Contact: Mike May
Office: (619) 594-5547
Home: (619) 265-2375
Fax: (619) 582-6541
Press Row: (619) 265-5853
Athletics Web Site
Cougars Finish Nonconference at 10-3 after Overtime Loss at Pepperdine
MALIBU -- For the third time this year, BYU suffered a tough road loss in a game it could have won as the Cougars fell in overtime Saturday at Pepperdine, 82-79. BYU finished its non-league play with a 10-3 record and now prepares for its Mountain West Conference opener Saturday at home vs. San Diego State. Pepperdine, who has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation, improved to 7-6 on the year with the win. BYU guard Travis Hansen played a remarkable game against the Waves, scoring 30 points and grabbing 17 rebounds to lead the Cougars. Hansen recorded his team-leading third double-double and became the second Cougar to score 30 points this year (Bigelow had 31 vs. Arizona State). Hansen's 17 rebounds are the most by a Cougar since Brett Applegate totaled 17 in December 1983. "Travis just competed like a lion," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "He played with a great deal of heart." Hansen had career highs in seven different statistical categories before fouling out with only seconds remaining in overtime. With BYU trailing by three with only three seconds remaining in overtime, Hansen was whistled for an offensive foul as he swept the ball while preparing to get off a game-tying three point attempt. Pepperdine's Terrance Johnson missed both free throws on the other end, but the Cougars could only get off a desperation three-quarter court heave by Matt Montague as time expired. The game went to overtime at 69-69 after reserve guard Jimmy Balderson hit a three-pointer from the corner during his only minute on the floor during the 45-minute game. Balderson made the trey with 12 seconds left in regulation. BYU had a chance to win the game after forcing a Pepperdine turnover with four seconds left but was unable to get off an attempt. The Cougars got off to a sluggish start to begin the game, falling behind 14-6 after the first 10 minutes. But BYU out scored the Waves 28-12, including a 10-0 run, to close out the half with a 36-24 advantage. Returning the favor, Pepperdine scored the first 10 points of the second half to claim the lead as BYU went cold from the floor, missing its first nine field goal attempts and both free throws before Hansen finally connected on a jumper to tie the game at 36. The rest of the game was for the most part a back-and-forth battle as the two teams traded leads through 10 second-half ties. BYU seemed ready to take the momentum with some good defense, but the Waves were able keep the tide from turning thanks to 25 free throw attempts in the second half. "It was unfortunate the number of touch fouls that were called," Cleveland said. "Free throws is the whole reason they were able to stay in the game. The game certainly wasn't called very consistently." After Johnson made a trey to put the Waves up 51-48 with 8:42 on the clock, Pepperdine went nearly seven minutes without a field goal. The Waves stayed in the game, thanks to nine successes from the charity stripe, until reserve Craig Lewis, who had just come in the game for the first time, made a three to give the Waves the lead again at 63-61 with just over two minutes left in regulation. Pepperdine led by five points with just under a minute remaining before BYU staged a quick comeback started by Hansen and finished by Balderson when he connected from long range to send the game to overtime. "We don't have a lot of margin for error, especially playing a good team on the road," Cleveland said. "It's disappointing to lose a game like this but this game isn't as important as our conference season coming up. I'm not disappointed in our 10-3 start. We have grown up as a team, gotten better, and learned how to compete in hostile situations." Three Cougars joined Hansen in double figures, with Mark Bigelow scoring 14 points, Matt Montague a season-high 12 points and Eric Nielsen adding 10. Montague also dished out a game-high eight assists and had two steals with only one turnover despite regular full-court pressure by the Waves. He played a career high 45 minutes. Even though five Pepperdine players scored in double figures, led by Jimmy Miggins with 19, the player of the game for the Waves was Lewis, who scored 12 points in only nine minutes, including three NBA-length treys.
Hansen Named MWC Player of the Week Monday
COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU junior forward Travis Hansen has been named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week after averaging a double-double last week in BYU's two games. Hansen, from Orem, Utah (Utah Valley State College) averaged 19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds while BYU defeated San Francisco and lost in overtime at Pepperdine. The Cougar guard shot 48 percent from the field (13-of-27) and was perfect from the free throw line (14-of-14). "Travis is very deserving," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "He had a special performance at Pepperdine. He just competed like a lion. He was a warrior out there who carried us on his shoulders." In the 84-70 win vs. San Francisco, Hansen scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds, had two assists, one block and one steal in 27 minutes. Against Pepperdine, he collected his team-leading third double-double of the year with 30 points and 17 rebounds in the 82-79 overtime loss. He went 10-of-19 from the floor and 10-of-10 from the line while adding two assists and one steal in 42 minutes. He set career highs during the game in points, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throw percentage, and minutes played. Hansen's 17 boards tops his previous high of 15 rebounds set earlier this year and are the most by a Cougar since Brett Applegate had 17 rebounds in December 1983. This is Hansen's first player of the week honor of his career and the second awarded to a Cougar this season. BYU senior forward Eric Nielsen earned the honor on Dec. 24. "It's an nice honor for me and the team," Hansen said. "I think it reflects how we have played as a team during the preseason. Obviously it would be a lot sweeter had we won the game at Pepperdine, but it is something to build upon entering our conference games."
Nielsen Earns MWC Player of the Week Award after Stanford Victory
COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU senior forward Eric Nielsen was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week Monday after leading the Cougars to an 81-76 upset of 13th-ranked Stanford Saturday at the Las Vegas Showdown. It was Nielsen's first player of the week honor of his career. Nielsen, from Freemont, Calif. (Irvington HS) scored a career-high 29 points after making 11-of-16 shots from the floor (68.8 percent), including 2-for-2 from three-point range. He was also a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line and grabbed six rebounds, while dishing out two assists. Nielsen's two treys marked a career best and equaled the total number of threes he's made in te past two years combined. Nielsen scored 17 points in 18 first-half minutes, keeping BYU within one at intermission, 41-40. He added 12 points in the second half and helped the Cougars outrebound Stanford, holding the Cardinal nine boards their season average. Nielsen also set career highs with the 16 field goal attempts, 11 field goals made and free throw percentage (1.000).
MWC Season Begins
Five of the eight Mountain West teams earned at least 10 wins this year with BYU and Utah at 10-3 and Wyoming, New Mexico and San Diego State all posting 10-4 marks. Only Air Force had a losing non-league record at 6-7, but the Falcons can even their record Thursday when they play at Texas Pan-American in the final nonconference contest. UNLV is 8-5 while Colorado State finished 8-6. The combined record of the MWC in the preseason (excluding Thursday's Air Force game) is 70-34 (.673). The Mountain West is rated seventh as a conference in the latest RPI and Sagarin ratings (Jan. 9).
First Half Success
BYU has led at the half in 12 of 13 games this season, trailing only Stanford (41-40). BYU is outscoring its opponents in the first half 464-350 (35.7 -- 26.9). The Cougars have scored more points in the second half but also yield more points. BYU has outscored its opponents 496-446 in the second half (38.2 - 34.3). BYU has been outscored 28-16 (14.0 - 8.0) in two overtime periods this year.
BYU is shooting 50.2 percent in its 10 victories and 42.0 percent in its three losses. The Cougars are shooting .513 at home and .434 on the road. BYU shot a season-low 43 percent in the Marriott Center in its last outing at home vs. USF. BYU shot 59.6 percent vs. Southern Utah, its second best shooting night of the season. BYU has shot 50 percent or better three times this year and is making 48.1 percent from the floor overall.
From Three-Point Range
BYU shot 28.6 percent (4-14) on threes vs. USF in the last home game. BYU was 5-15 at Pepperdine. BYU made eight three pointers in the first half (season best) and totaled 11 for the game (tying a season high) vs. Southern Utah. The Cougars also had 11 three pointers against Idaho. BYU attempted a season-high 22 threes vs Southern Utah. Mark Bigelow making five treys vs. SUU. Bobik has also made five threes in a game, going 5-7 vs. Idaho. On the year, seven Cougars have made a three-point shot. Mark Bigelow has made a team-high 33 threes (33-72, .458). He has made a trey in all 13 games. Daniel Bobik is 19-46 (.413) and Travis Hansen is 16-39 (.410). BYU makes 40.9 percent overall from behind the arc.
One-Two Scoring Punch
BYU's Mark Bigelow and Travis Hansen are the Cougars one-two scoring punch. Both players have had a 30 point scoring game with Bigleow totaling 31 vs. Arizona State and Hansen coming off a 30-point performance at Pepperdine. Bigelow has reached double figures in 12 of 13 games and Hansen in 10 of 13. Bigelow scores 17.8 ppg and Hansen 15.7 ppg on the year.
Other Scoring Options
The Cougars have five players scoring at least eight points per game. After leaders Mark Bigelow (17.8) and Travis Hansen (15.7), senior Eric Nielsen averages 10.4 ppg and has scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford. Reserve guard Daniel Bobik is adding 9.2 ppg off the bench and has twice scored highs of 17 points. Freshman center Jared Jensen is averaging 8.4 ppg and has twice totaled a high of 14 points. In addition, freshman guard Jimmy Balderson has twice reached double figures with a high of 19 points while point guard Matt Montague has reached double digits three times, coming off a season-high 12 points at Pepperdine (he had 11 points at San Diego and vs. USF).
Numbers at the Line
BYU is shooting 79.4 percent from the line for the year. Last year, BYU led the nation at 78 percent from the line. This year the Cougars are ranked second in the latest NCAA rankings (Dec. 17). Seven Cougars are shooting 70 percent or better from the free throw line and four are making 80 percent or better. Daniel Bobik makes a team-leading 92.9 percent (No. 1 among MWC players), followed by Mark Bigelow (.873), Jared Jensen (.818), Travis Hansen (.811), Matt Montague (.761), Dan Howard (.750), and Eric Nielsen (.714) .
In the Polls
BYU receved two votes in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls. BYU is rated 45th by AP as the only MWC team receiving votes and 50th in the coaches poll, with Wyoming (34th) and New Mexico (46th) also getting votes.
BYU's win this year over then No. 13 Stanford in Las Vegas was the Cougars' first win over a top-20 team since upsetting No. 15 New Mexico in The Pit in February 1998. Last year BYU lost to No. 13 USC, 70-67, at the Yahoo Sports Invitational in Laie, Hawaii, after leading by 18 at the half, 41-23. BYU played at No. 4 Arizona on Dec. 1, 1999 but lost 86-62. BYU took No. 11 Arizona to overtime in Provo on Nov. 24, 1998, before losing 78-74. BYU nearly won in regulation, but Arizona's Jason Terry hit a three-pointer to send the game to overtime.
BYU had its eight-game winning streak halted at Pepperdine Saturday. The eight straight wins was the longest streak since the 1992-93 team won 13 in a row. Coach Cleveland's teams have had six five-game streaks over the last three seasons, which they twice extended it to six games before the current streak was extended to seven and now eight games. BYU hopes to avoid suffering back-to-back losses for the second time. BYU lost at UC Santa Barbara and at Utah State this year.
Home Winning Streak
BYU has a 28-game home court winning streak. The streak, which is a school record besting the 24 straight won between March 1994 and Jan. 1996, is the fourth-longest current streak in the nation. BYU is 8-0 this year and was a perfect 15-0 in the Marriott Center last season. BYU's last loss in the Marriott Center was on Feb. 17, 2000 when New Mexico edged the Cougars 78-74.
Home Winning Streak 2
BYU has defeated 26 straight nonconference opponents in the Marriott Center. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998. BYU has a 32-6 home record against nonconference teams under Steve Cleveland. BYU is 25-0 vs. non-MWC teams at home since the conference was founded in 1999. The Cougars are the only MWC team with an unbeaten home nonconference mark.
From the Training Room
Starting point guard Matt Montague broke his nose during practice on Christmas day. He has not missed any playing time. Reserve point guard Shawn Opunui will be out for approximately six weeks after reinjuring his left thumb Saturday vs. Idaho (torn ligaments). He originally suffered ligament damage in his thumb while playing three minutes at Utah State on Dec. 1. It is anticipated the freshman guard will be in a hard cast for four weeks and then a removable splint for two weeks.
Hitting the Glass
BYU has done a good job on the boards this year. BYU averages 36.8 rebounds while its opponents grab on average 30.6. BYU has out boarded its opponents in 11 games, including a slight 44-43 edge over Pepperdine and a 32-30 advantage over USF in the last two games. BYU was 10-0 when winning the rebounding battle unitl its loss at Pepperdine. The Cougars have only been out boarded once, 35-24 in its overtime loss to Utah State. The Cougars and UCSB each totaled 35 rebounds. BYU out boarded Fort Lewis, 47-17. BYU's 42-26 rebounding advantage over ASU was the third worst margin suffered by ASU coach Rob Evan's in his coaching career and his worst at ASU.
Top JC Center Signs with Cougars
Rafael Araujo, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound center at Western Arizona, in November signed an NCAA Letter-of-Intent to play at BYU. Considered one of the top five junior-college players in the country, Araujo was recruited by North Carolina, Illinois, UNLV and San Diego State among others. A physically strong athlete with great leaping ability, Araujo runs the floor well and has range on the perimeter. "We are thrilled to have Rafael decide to join the BYU basketball program," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "He is a great young man that people really enjoy being around. He's got legitimate NBA center size and has the potential to make a significant impact on the program. He's still got some things to learn, but he has all the tools to become an outstanding player at the Division I level." Araujo is averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds this year for No. 7-ranked Western Arizona, located in Yuma. He scored a season-high 35 points in 22 minutes in the season-opener and has totaled a season-high 17 rebounds. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Araujo will enter BYU as a junior. He will enroll next fall.
Toolson New Addition
BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson and his wife Holly had their fifth child Jan. 3 with the birth of a baby boy. Tanner is the fourth boy to join the Toolson family. Toolson did not attend BYU's game at Pepperdine while staying home with his wife and new baby.
BYU Off to Solid Start
With its 10-3 record, BYU has achieved double-digit nonconference wins for the third straight season. Last year BYU was 11-4 entering MWC play and went on to a 24-9 record. In 1999-2000 the Cougars were 11-2 and finished 22-11.
Tough MWC Play Ahead
BYU's seven Mountain West opponents have combined (as of Jan. 9) to win 67 percent of their games so far this year. Including the Cougars, five of the eight teams have already won 10 games and only Air Force has a losing record (and 6-7 Air Force can move to .500 in its final non-league game Thursday at Texas Pan-American). The league was predicted to be stronger top to bottom from last season. BYU was picked sixth in the preseason poll with Wyoming and Utah considered the top two teams to win the title this year.
BYU Opponent Records
Of the 20 opponents BYU will face this year, 14 have winning records as of Jan 9. Six have a losing record. Overall, BYU's opponents have combined to win 57 percent of their games with the nonconference teams having a 86-80 record and MWC teams boasting a 66-33 record. The 13 nonconference teams BYU has played already have won 52 percent of their games.
BYU is currently ranked 41st and is the top-rated team in the Mountain West Conference in the Sagarin ratings. The MWC is ranked 7th in the latest ratings (Jan. 9). Below is a list of MWC teams in order of ranking. To see the latest Sagarin Rankings go to: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin.htm
According to the CollegeRPI.com rankings (Jan. 9), BYU is the fourth-rated MWC team with a 57 RPI. The Mountain West Conference is rated 7th among the 32 conferences (and five independents).
New Mexico 38
San Diego State 44
Colorado State 100
Air Force 212
BYU in MWC Statistics (as of Jan. 9)
Â• BYU leads all MWC teams this year in scoring margin, (+11.7), free throw shooting (.794), three-point shooting (.409) and three-point percentage defense (.282).
Â• The Cougars rate second in defensive rebounds (27.69) and assist/turnover ratio (1.06). BYU is third in scoring defense (63.4), field goal percentage defense (.393), field goal percentage (.481), and rebounding margin (+6.2). The Cougars are third in rebounding defense (30.6).
Â• Matt Montague leads all MWC players in assists (7.23) and assist/turnover ration (3.03). He also rates sixth in steals (1.62), 11th in defensive rebounds (3.69), 14th in free throw percentage (.761) and 18th in total rebounds average (4.3).
Â• Mark Bigelow is tied for second in scoring (17.8), third in free throw percentage (.873), tied for third in three-point field goals made per game (2.54) and fifth in three-point percentage (.458).
Â• Travis Hansen ranks second in defensive rebounds average (6.23), fifth in total rebounds average (7.7), and seventh in scoring (15.7).
Â• Eric Nielsen is seventh in field goal percentage (.571).
Â• Daniel Bobik leads all MWC players in free throw percentage (.929) and is seventh in three-pointers made per game (1.46)
Â• Jared Jensen is third in field goal percentage (.631), and is ninth in free throw percentage (.818).
BYU in National Statistics (as of Jan. 9)
Â• BYU is second in the nation in free throw shooting percentage (79.4 -- Siena No. 1 at 79.5) and 13th three-point field goal percentage (.409).
Â• Senior point guard Matt Montague is third nationally in assists per game (7.2) and Daniel Bobik is tied for 10th in free throw percentage (.929).
MATT MONTAGUE / 6-0 Â• 190 Â• senior Â• point guard
CAPSULE: Montague provides leadership at the point having started 70 times and played in all 105 games in his fourth year ... Last year he started 12 games, primarily before Trent Whiting joined the team in December, but still lead the team in assists (2.9) while playing mostly a reserve role ... He has led the team in assists during each of his three seasons ... A hard-nosed competitor, he sees the floor well and is a great transition passer.
Matt Montague reached double figures in both games last week. He has now reached double figures in three games this year. He had a season high 12 points vs. Pepperdine with 8 assists and 6 rebounds and 2 steals with only 1 turnover in 45 minutes. He had 11 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and no turnovers in 39 minutes vs. San Francisco. He averaged 11.5 points, 7.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.5 steals last week. He played an average of 42 minutes per game, dishing out 15 assists while committing only one turnover despite receiving full-court pressure from both San Francisco and Pepperdine. He played both games with a broken nose. Matt Montague has played the last four games with a broken nose, an injury he sustained late Christmas day during practice. He has reached double-digit assists three times this year. He averages a MWC-best 7.2 assists per game on the year and is third in assists in the lastest national statistics. He made a career-best eight free throws to seal the win for BYU vs. Stanford. He set a career-high with 15 assists vs. Idaho. It was the most assists by a Cougar in the last 25 years. He was one shy of the BYU and Marriott Center record of 16 assists set by Mike May vs. Niagara in 1976.
TRAVIS HANSEN / 6-6 Â• 210 Â• junior Â• guard/forward
CAPSULE: . After playing a supporting role in his first season at BYU last year, Hansen is playing a more significant role in 2001-02 ... With his increase in playing time, he has the talent to become an all-conference player ... He is very athletic ... He was fifth in scoring last year (5.5) and also grabbed 3.0 boards per game ... He earned a starting job midway through the year before missing nine games in the middle of MWC play because of a fractured right foot ... He started nine games and the Cougars had a 7-2 record in those games with loses at Colorado State and Wyoming, where he suffered the foot injury.
Hansen averaged a double-double last week (19.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg). The Cougar guard had his team-leading third double-double of the year vs. Pepperdine Saturday with career highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds. He went 10-19 from the floor and 10-10 from the line while adding two assists and one steal in 42 minutes. He set career highs during the game in points, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throw percentage, and minutes played. He had nine points, six rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 27 minutes vs. San Francisco. Hansen is the second Cougar to score 30 points in a game this year (Mark BIgelow 31 vs. ASU). Hansen's 17 points tops his previous high of 15 rebounds this year and is the most boards by a Cougars since Brett Applegate had 17 rebounds in December 1983. Only 20 Cougars have ever had more than 17 boards in a game. No Cougar guard has ever totaled more boards in a single game. Hansen leads BYU in rebounding (7.7 rpg) and is second in scoring (15.7 ppg). He played a key defensive role against first-team All-American Casey Jacobsen of Stanford. He has made 20 straight free throws, and 25 of his last 26 over the last four games.
MARK BIGELOW / 6-7 Â• 190 Â• sophomore Â• guard/forward
CAPSULE -- Bigelow could be one of the top performers in the Mountain West if he returns to his pre-mission form ... So far he has proved capable of returning to his pre-mission form ... He was BYU's leading scorer (15.0) and rebounder (6.3) in 1998-99 before going on a two-year LDS Church mission to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. ... He returned from his mission in June having grown an inch to 6-7 ... He is an excellent shooter and extremely intelligent player ... A gifted offensive player with a great mid-range game ... He moves well without the ball ... He was the 1999 WAC Pacific Division Freshman of the Year, All-WAC Second Team and All-Newcomer Team.
Mark Bigelow scored a team-high 15 points vs. San Francisco and added 14 at Pepperdine. He has been BYU's most consistent scorer, totaling 14 or more points in every game since scoring 9 in the season opener at San Diego. He has made a three pointer in every game this season (13) and has a string of 20 straight games with a made three including the last seven games of his freshman season in 1999. Mark Bigelow leads BYU in scoring at 17.8 ppg. He has scored 20 or more points four times, including a BYU season-high 31 vs. ASU. He has averaged 13 points in the first half in the last four games, but has tired in the late going, averaging 6 points in the second half during those games.
ERIC NIELSEN / 6-9 Â• 215 Â• senior Â• forward
CAPSULE -- A three-year starter, Nielsen will play a big role for the Cougars in 2001-02 with the loss of the team's other four starters ... An intelligent player with a good mid-range jumper, his 56.3 career field goal percentage ranks third all-time at BYU ... Nielsen and teammate Matt Montague were all freshmen members of the 1996-97 BYU team that finished 1-25 .... After returning from his mission, Nielsen has played the past two seasons for coach Cleveland , helping the Cougars earn a combined 46-20 record and two postseason tournament berths ... He is Academic All-MWC and a Cougar Scholar Athlete.
Nielsen is third on the team in scoring (10.4 ppg) and is second in rebounds (5.3 rpg). He had 10 points at Pepperdine, his sixth double figure game of the year and second consecutive. He had 12 points, a game-high 8 boards, a season-high 3 assists and tied a career-best 2 blocks vs. USF. After scoring a season-low 2 points against Idaho in 25 minutes, taking only two shots, he scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford, taking a career-high 16 attempts while making a personal-best 11 shots. He had 14 points, 8 boards and 2 assists vs. Weber State. He had 14 at Utah State and had a then career-high 19 points vs. ASU in BYU's home opener (his prior best was 17 against Utah at the Thomas & Mack Center in the 2000 MWC tournament in Las Vegas). Last year the most shots he took in a game was eight, when he averaged 3.8 shot attempts per game. This year he is taking 7.5 shots per game. He ranks third all-time at BYU in career field goal percentage and is making 57.1 percent of his shots so far this year.
JARED JENSEN / 6-9 Â• 245 Â• freshman Â• center
CAPSULE: Jensen earned the 2001 Deseret News Mr. Basketball Award after scoring 25.8 points and pulling down 13 rebounds per game this past season at Fremont High School (Utah). He averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game as a high school junior when he also earned Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News All-State honors. He is a talented offensive player in the low-post who can also score with his jumper. He should get the opportunity to play as a freshman with the loss of 2001 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Mekeli Wesley in the post.
Prior to having his first scoreless game of the year at Pepperdine, Jensen has been a consistent offensive threat inside over the prior six games, reaching double figures in five of those games while averaging 11.7 ppg. In his first six games as a collegian, he reached double-digit points once and averaged 6.5 ppg. He is fifth on the team overall at 8.4 ppg. He is shooting a team-best 63.1 percent from the floor. He had a career-high 10 attempts, scoring 10 points vs. USF. He equaled his career high with 14 second-half points vs. Southern Utah. Jensen had his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds vs. CSUN, also had career-best 10 boards vs. Creighton. He had a career-best 2 steals vs. CSUN. He had 12 points vs. Idaho and vs. Fort Lewis. He had a career-high 14 points on 4-5 shooting and 6-8 from the line at UCSB. In his first career start vs. Arizona State, he played 15 minutes and had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
DANIEL BOBIK / 6-6 Â• 205 Â• sophomoreÂ• guard
CAPSULE: Bobik averaged 3.5 points and 10.4 minutes while playing in 28 of 33 games last year as a freshman ... He has good offensive instincts and size on the guardline ... He will get playing time as a sophomore with the loss of BYU's all-conference guard line of Trent Whiting and Terrell Lyday ... He has good range and is a crafty passer with good court awareness ... He could play some point but is primarily a wing player ... He enrolled at BYU for his freshman season after returning from an LDS Church mission to the Dominican Republic ... He and Mark Bigelow were the first recruits to sign with BYU under Steve Cleveland.
Bobik plays the sixth-man role. He had eight points at Pepperdine in front of many of his family and friends from nearby Newbury Park. He shoots a MWC-best 92.9 percent from the line. He has made 20 straight free throws but has not had an attempt in the last three games. The all-time BYU record is 32, set by Michael Smith. Bobik hasn't missed a free throw since the Arizona State game. He set career bests with in free throws made, attempted and percentage going 8-8 vs. Cal State Northridge. Bobik has scored in double digits in five games. He reached double digits in three straight games with a career-high 17 against Idaho, 10 against Stanford and 17 again vs. CS Northridge. Bobik also set career highs vs CSUN with four assists and three steals. He is fourth on the team in scoring. He had a career-best 8 rebounds vs. Creighton. He had 13 points at Utah State. He played a career-high 33 minutes with 12 points and four rebounds in the season-opener at USD.
BART JEPSEN / 6-9 Â• 235 Â• redshirt sophomore Â• forward
CAPSULE: Jepsen redshirted last season after returning from an LDS Church mission ... He had suffered a severe break of his leg on his mission ... He will likely play a significant role in the middle as a rebounder and defender who can run the floor well ... A strong physical presence and good rebounder, he could play a role similar to that of outgoing senior Nate Knight , primarily as a rebounder and defender ... Before a two-year LDS Church mission, Jepsen started nine times while playing 27 games as a freshman in 1997-98 in Cleveland's first season ... He is the younger brother of former Cougar center Bret Jepsen.
Jepsen has appeared in all 13 games off the bench, but has played less than five minutes in four of the last five games. He played only one minute, a season low, in both games last week. He played 11 minutes with three boards vs. Southern Utah. He played a season-high 22 minutes at Utah State. He had a season-high 5 points vs. Fort Lewis. His rebound high is 6 vs. Arizona State. He has not attempted a shot in the lat three games and takes just over one shot per game on average.
JESSE PINEGAR / 6-9 Â• 220 Â• redshirt freshman Â• forward
CAPSULE: Pinegar redshirted last year after coming to BYU as one of the Cougars' top recruits and the first of BYU's top-20 recruiting class to commit to the Cougars ... He was rated the top center in the West as a junior and sat out his senior year of high school after shoulder surgery ...An extremely skilled offensive player, he was expected to play a strong role for BYU this season but again injured his left (non dominant) shoulder in June ... He played for the first time last week, appearing in both games in a limited role ... He had not been able to practice since June ... His latest surgery should completely repair the injury but he still has some pain ... He is a mobile, athletic player, he can play several positions and has excellent range beyond the three-point line ... He is an outstanding passer and a very skilled young offensive post player ... He made significant strides in the weight room this past season before the injury .... He has the tools to play a significant role once healthy but is not in condition to compete at this point.
Redshirt Freshman Jesse Pinegar has played in five games since being cleared by doctors (shoulder surgery in June). It was his first action since his junior year of high school. He sat out his senior year after shoulder surgery and then redshirted last season at BYU. He injured his shoulder again this summer and had surgery in June. Pinegar scored the first points of his collegiate career vs. Southern Utah. He scored with about a minute to play on running one-hand baseline jumper. He played a season-high seven minutes with 1 rebound and 1 assist vs. Fort Lewis in his first career appearance. He appeared only briefly vs. USF Wednesday.
DAN HOWARD / 7-0 Â• 225 Â• sophomore Â• center
CAPSULE: Howard played in 14 games last year in limited action ... The tallest player on the roster, he has a nice touch for a big man ... He entered the year having made 8-of-11 field goal attempts as a Cougar ... A hard worker, he has a knack for the ball and could be a factor in inside this year, especially with the Cougars' losses in the post ... He has not had the opportunity to play a lot of consistent minutes (he played a career-best 12 minutes at San Francisco last year) since last playing for his high school team in 1996.
Howard has appeared in 10 games overall, playing 5.2 minutes per game. He started the season-opener at USD, the first start of his career. He played seven minutes, with one rebound. He played only 2 minutes vs. USF Wednesday. He played 5 minutes vs. SUU (1 point) and 3 minutes vs. CSUN, scoring 2 points. He made his first two free throws of the season and set a career best with the two makes vs. CSUN. He played 2 minutes vs. Stanford with one rebound. He had 4 points and 5 boards vs. Fort Lewis and had 3 rebounds and 2 blocks vs. Idaho in the most action he has seen this year. He played a career-high 13 minutes in each game. Last year he played 12 minutes at San Francisco. He is a career 10-15 from the floor in his two seasons, including 2-4 this year.
JON CARLISLE / 6-10 Â• 260 Â• sophomore Â• center
CAPSULE: Carlisle is from Salt Lake City and last played on Utah's Final Four team in 1998 as the primary backup to current Cleveland Cavaliers center Michael Doleac. He averaging 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game. He averaged 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds at Brighton High School in 1997 and was one of three players, including new Cougar teammate Jake Shoff (who is redshirting due to transfer rules), to earn Region 4 Tri-Player of the Year honors. He continues to work to get back into playing shape, having already taken off 40 pounds since returning from his mission. He is a talented post player who has the tools to be a strong contributor once he is in condition to play.
Carlisle has played in eight games, including the last seven straight. He has played double-digit minutes twice, including 13 vs. USF, scoring 2 points and grabbing 3 boards and blocking 2 shots. He also had his first assist of the year. He played a season-high 14 minutes vs. Stanford, more than doubling his previous high while making a significant contribution to the victory, playing 10 minutes in the first half with Jared Jensen in foul trouble. He went to the line for the first time vs. SUU, going 1-2. He was 2-4 from the line vs. USF. He has grabbed a rebound in every game and has scored in five of eight games. He scored a season-high 6 points in seven minutes vs. Fort Lewis.
JIMMY BALDERSON / 6-6 Â• 200 Â• freshman Â• guard
CAPSULE: Balderson is a 6-foot-6 combo guard who averaged 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists while leading Magrath High School in Alberta, Canada to a 32-3 record this past season ... He has excellent range from the three-point line and has good size ... He shot 54 percent from the floor and 91 percent from the free throw line at Magrath High ... A skilled young player, he could factor in on perimeter this year ... He plans to leave in the spring on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Balderson has played in 10 games. He hit the game-tying three-pointer from the left corner to force overtime at Pepperdin in his only minute of action. He has reached double figures twice, scoring 11 points in 13 minutes vs. Southern Utah last week and totaling a career-high 19 points to lead all BYU scorers against Fort Lewis in 22 minutes. He went 8-10 from the floor vs. Fort Lewis. He also recorded career highs with 7 rebounds and 3 steals, sharing team-high honors in both categories. He has been able to score when he has gotten the playing time. He has played double-digit minutes in four games, averaging 14.5 minutes in those games. He could get some opportunities to play the point with Opunui out with an injury.
SHAWN OPUNUI / 5-11 Â• 170 Â• freshman Â• point guard
CAPSULE: Opunui averaged 21.7 points and 6.1 assists as an all-state point guard at Orem High School in 1999 before leaving for an LDS Church mission ... A strong offensive player and solid defender, Opunui shot nearly 91 percent from the free throw line, third best in state history, and 40 percent on three-point attempts ... His 401 assists put him on the state's top-10 all-time list ... He is an athletic point guard who has excellent open court passing skills and is an outstanding three-point shooter ... His ability to break defenses down with the dribble should create offensive opportunities for his teammates ... He loves pushing the ball up the floor as a true point guard with great court vision ... A super passer and great penetrator, Opunui should have the opportunity to play with the loss to graduation of all-MWC guards Trent Whiting and Terrell Lyday and loss to injury of Michael Vranes.
It is anticipated Opunui will be out for at least six weeks after reinjuring his left thumb vs. Idaho (torn ligaments). He originally suffered ligament damage in his thumb while playing three minutes at Utah State on Dec. 1. The freshman guard will wear a hard cast for the next four weeks and then a removable splint for two weeks. He had played in four games. His only significant playing time was against Fort Lewis when he played 20 minutes. It was his first action in three games after injuring his thumb at Utah State. He dished out a career-best 10 assists and had career highs with six points, four rebounds and three steals in 20 minutes vs. Fort Lewis. He had six assists in the first half in only seven minutes.
TERRY NASHIF / 5-10 Â• 165 Â• freshman Â• guard
CAPSULE: Nashif is a freshman who served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after his senior year in 1999 at Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash. ... A smart player who can put down the three-pointer, he knows how to run a team and is an excellent distributor of the ball ... He could factor in at the point.
Nashif could see more playing time with the loss of Shawn Opunui. He played for few seconds only at Pepperdine while Montague hadto be attended to momentarily by the training staff. He played only one minute vs USF with one rebound after equaling his season high playing 10 minutes vs. Southern Utah, recording a high of 3 rebounds. He played five minutes vs. CSUN and recorded a career-high 3 points, going 3-6 from the line. He took one three-pointer. He has played in eight games, including a brief appearance vs. Stanford at the end of the game. He played 10 minutes against Fort Lewis, and had 2 points and 3 assists.
BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND (77-60 in fifth year)
Steve Cleveland enters his fifth season at the helm of the Cougars in 2001-02. In his four seasons at BYU, Cleveland has proven to be a first-rate recruiter, an excellent coach and player developer, and above all, a winner. Last year Cleveland guiding BYU to its first NCAA tournament bid since 1995, its first conference regular season title since 1993 and its first conference tournament championship since 1992. While rebuilding a program that finished 1-25 before his arrival, he has improved the Cougars each season, posting records of 9-21, 12-16, 22-11 and 24-9. The Cougars also improved upon an NIT season in 1999-2000 to earn an NCAA berth last year. The past two seasons both rank among of the school's best year's ever in terms of wins dating back to the Cougars first season in 1902. In fact, only five BYU teams have ever recorded more wins than last year's 24-9 team and only seven have improved upon the 22-11 record in 1999-2000.