Game 15 - BYU Hosts San Diego State Saturday

Senior Mike Hall has made 22 of his last 36 shots (.611) over the last four games. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU (5-9, 0-0 MWC) opens the MWC season Saturday by hosting the San Diego State Aztecs (6-7, 0-0 MWC) at 7 p.m. MST) in the Marriott Center. The game is a SportsWest telecast airing on KSL-TV, channel 5, in Utah, Cox 4 in San Diego and nationally via ESPN FULLCOURT. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 (KSL.com).

UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS

BYU faces its final non-league opponent Tuesday before returning to MWC play Tuesday when the Cougars host Montana State-Billings at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center (radio-only game).

BYU GAME #15 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (5-9, 0-0 MWC) vs. SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (6-7, 0-0 MWC)

SATURDAY, JAN. 8, 2005

MARRIOTT CENTER (22,700)

PROVO, UTAH 7:07 p.m. MST

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (134-96 in eighth season; same overall)

SDSU, Steve Fisher (76-86 in sixth season; 260-168 in 13th year overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 38-16 (Last season: split series with home wins, BYU winning last outing in OT in Provo, 83-69)

TV:

SportsWest Productions on KSL-TV, channel 5, in Utah, Cox 4 in San Diego and nationally via ESPN FULLCOURT (Tom Kirkland play-by-play with Blaine Fowler adding analysis).

Radio:

KSL 1160, BYU Sports Network (Greg Wrubell calls play-by-play with Mark Durrant adding commentary)

Web:

Live audio and live stats are available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2004-05 schedule)

COUGAR QUICK HITS

- BYU had a three-game winning streak halted Tuesday with its loss at Saint Mary's. BYU is 3-3 at home, 1-3 in road games and 1-3 on neutral floors this year.

- BYU is shooting .430 on the season, including .383 from three-point range.

- BYU has made 27 straight free throws -- including a single-game school record. of 24 vs. Santa Clara in the Cougars' last home game.

- The 10 BYU players averaging double-digit minutes this season include six sophomores, three seniors and one freshman. Of BYU's freshmen top-20 signing class, only F/C Chris Miles is currently playing (10.5 minutes). Both David Burgess (ankles) and Trent Plaisted (knees) are currently out while top guard prospect and Arizona Player of the Year Lee Cummard has not been with the Cougars this season after opting to serve an LDS Church mission. After returning early, he will join the Cougars next season.

- Senior guard Mike Hall leads BYU in scoring at (13.5 ppg). Sophomore guard Mike Rose adds 9.9 ppg and senior center Jared Jensen contributes 9.4 ppg. Sophomore swingman Keena Young leads BYU in rebounding (6.0 rpg) while sophomore center Derek Dawes 5.3 and sophomore forward Garner Meads adds 5.0. Meads, however, has missed the last three games but could return to action Saturday.

- BYU's tough schedule has included four Pac-10 opponents this season and two nationally ranked ACC teams (North Carolina and NC State). BYU's wins are over Chaminade (77-56), Boise State (90-77), Weber State (79-61), Southern Utah (77-52) and Santa Clara (87-74).

STEVE CLEVELAND QUOTES

"We're in a similar position right now to where we were last season. We're heading into conference play coming off a disappointing loss. We've just got to treat it like it's a new season for us."

"We've been inconsistent. We've played seven or eight good halves but we haven't been able to put it all together consistently and play 40 good minutes."

"At Saint Mary's, we beat ourselves. If we even had half the number of turnovers, we would've at least been in the game. We just had a total meltdown. But we'll learn from that. The entire team has watched the film and now we're just going to go forward from here and focus on San Diego State."

"Up until Saint Mary's, I think our guys were feeling pretty good. We were shooting over 50 percent and had some confidence. Obviously losing like we did doesn't make you feel good."

"Right now, we don't see a lot of reason for optimism or confidence at 5-9. We're trying to be encouraging but hold our guys accountable."

"I don't know how the conference will stack up. Obviously Utah and New Mexico have shown that they're ready to go, but we're just going to focus on getting better ourselves. That's the only thing we can control."

"Heath and Slaughter would play 40 minutes on my team. They are both outstanding players. They are athletic and consistently play well. Slaughter is the most improved player in the league this year."

"We'll have to be intelligent on how we pass and attack. We'll have to make some adjustments. They're not going to let Jared Jensen sit down there with his back to the basket and score all day."

"Every team in this league is good enough to beat us if we don't play well. There's no one that we can let our guard down with and not play a full 40 minutes and still win. Right now, we haven't played the kind of basketball that would merit a conference championship in two months. We'll have to play better."

LOOKING AT SAN DIEGO STATE

The Aztecs are currently 6-7 on the season, having snapped a two-game skid with a 64-49 win over South Dakota State Monday. SDSU is 1-3 on the road. They suffered losses to Cougar opponents California (60-57) and Saint Mary's (73-64) as well as No. 12 Washington (98-68) during non-conference play in December. San Diego State returns nine letterwinners and four starters from last season's 14-16 team that finished tied for fifth in the Mountain West Conference with a 5-9 record. Sophomore forward Marcus Slaughter (6-8) and sophomore guard Brandon Heath (6-4), both All-MWC Honorable Mention recipients in 2004, rank third and fourth respectively in the league in scoring as Slaughter averages 18.5 points per game and Heath contributes 17.4. Slaughter also leads the Aztecs in rebounding, pulling down 8.8 boards per game, and has scored in double-figures in every game this season. Heath is close behind, having reached double figures in 12 of 13 games and the last 10 straight. Center Chris Manker (7-0) is third on the team in scoring with 9.0 points per game while junior guard John Sharper adds 6.7 and freshman guard Matt Thomas contributes 5.5. Transfer Mohamed Camara, a 6-10 center, is second on the team in rebounds, averaging 5.0 boards per game while Heath ranks third at 3.9. Junior forward Trimaine Davis leads the Aztecs in field goal percentage with a .568 mark, and Tyler Smith, a 6-2 freshman guard, is first in three-point efficiency, making 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. SDSU has not had the services of All-MWC Honorable Mention pick Wesley Stokes, who averaged 12.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season, due to academic issues; however, Stokes could become eligible to play as early as Saturday. As a team, SDSU is shooting 42.6 percent from field goal range, including 33.3 percent from three-point range and 67.5 percent from the free-throw line, while scoring 68.8 points per game. The Aztecs allow their opponents to shoot 42.7 percent from the field while making 35.1 percent from beyond the arc and scoring 67 points per game. All of SDSU's losses have come when the Aztecs shoot below 40 percent.

SDSU DEFEATS SDSU IN LAST OUTING

Brandon Heath scored 15 points and led a second-half run that broke open a close game to carry San Diego State to a 64-49 victory over South Dakota State on Monday. Heath, who had seven assists and four steals, was one of nine Aztecs who scored as SDSU (6-7) won for only the second time in eight games. Marcus Slaughter also scored 15 points. Heath scored seven points in an 8-0 run early in second half that put the Aztecs ahead 44-27. He started the run with a steal and dunk. After a free throw by Tyler Smith, Heath hit a 3-pointer, then stole the inbound pass and scored on a layup. SDSU held South Dakota State (2-11) to just 30.8 percent shooting and won despite being outrebounded 48-36. Ben Beran led the Jackrabbits with 15 points. Leading scorer Steve Holdren added 12 points, hitting just 5-of-20 field goal attempts. South Dakota State, playing in its first year at the Division I level, trailed by only four points with 3 minutes to go in the first half before the Aztecs scored the final five points for a 30-21 halftime lead.

SAN DIEGO STATE'S POSSIBLE STARTERS

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

F 3 Chris Walton 6-8 234 Sr. 2.5 2.8

F 42 Marcus Slaughter 6-8 223 So. 18.5 8.8

C 50 Mohamed Camara 6-10 265 Jr. 3.2 5.0

G 01 Brandon Heath 6-3 183 So. 17.4 3.9

G 11 Tyler Smith 6-2 208 Fr. 2.2 1.9

SERIES NOTES

BYU owns a 38-16 advantage over the Aztecs in a series that dates back to 1941. The Cougars are 23-2 in Provo and 11-3 under head coach Steve Cleveland. The two teams split last season's games with each squad winning in its home arena. SDSU defeated the Cougars 65-61 in San Diego last January on a last-second bucket and a disputed technical foul call. One month later, the Aztecs forced overtime in Provo, but fell 83-69 as Cougar Mike Hall blocked the game-winning shot with 2.7 seconds left in regulation and then sparked BYU on a 16-0 overtime run to seal the victory.

BYU SERIES RECORD VS. SAN DIEGO STATE

Overall Series Record: BYU leads 38-16

BYU Record in Provo: 23-2

BYU Record in San Diego: 15-13

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-1

BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 11-3

BYU Record in Overtime Games: 3-2 (1-1 Rd, 2-1 Hm)

Last Overtime Game: 2004, BYU won in Provo, 83-69

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

LAST YEAR'S FIRST OUTING -- COUGARS FALL IN FINAL MOMENTS AT SDSU

SAN -- BYU dropped its conference opener for the first time in Mountain West Conference history Monday at San Diego State, falling 65-61 in a hard-fought contest with the Aztecs. In a game marking the beginning of what looks to be a formidable conference schedule, the Cougars fell short despite a strong effort from freshman Garner Meads and yet another double-double from senior Rafael Araujo. Four Cougars scored in double figures in the loss. Mike Hall, who had not scored in double figures the past two games, led the Cougars with 15 points, including two big three-pointers. Mark Bigelow added 14, Araujo contributed 12, and Meads scored a career-high 10 points. Unfortunately, the scoring output was not enough to top the Aztecs, who were led by lone senior Aerick Sanders with 18 points. The Cougars' big man and two-time MWC Player of the Week, Rafael Araujo, who came into the game averaging over 20 points per game, was shut down in the first half, going into the locker room with two fouls and not a single point. Araujo came out solid in the second half, scoring 12 points and pulling down 13 boards to record his 10th double-double of the season. Turnovers plagued the Cougars. The Aztecs scored 27 points off of BYU'S 17 turnovers while the Cougars were only able to manage eight points off of seven Aztec turnovers. The 17-7 turnover ratio is identical to the turnover ratio in last week's loss to NC State. With the game hanging in the balance in the last 90 seconds, BYU turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions. As expected, the game was hard-fought and tight the entire 40 minutes, featuring nine lead changes and seven ties. Both teams showcased their ability to generate scoring runs with BYU producing a 10-0 run midway through the first half and a 13-3 run midway through the second half. However, the Aztecs stole the show, going on a 6-0 run to end the first half and cut the Cougars' eight-point lead to only two, 33-31; and then running off six unanswered points in the last 90 seconds of the game to put the Cougars away. Both head coaches celebrated milestones in Monday night's game. BYU Head Coach Steve Cleveland coached his 200th game as a Cougar and San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher notched his 250th career victory. The loss drops the Cougars to 10-4 on the season and 0-1 in MWC play, while the Aztecs improve to 10-6 and 1-0. "We did so many good things to get ourselves back in the game, but turnovers made the difference," BYU Coach Steve Cleveland said.

LAST YEAR IN PROVO -- MEADS CAREER NIGHT HELPS COUGARS DEFEAT AZTECS IN OVERTIME

PROVO -- It took overtime and a 16-0 run but the Cougars captured their second-consecutive conference win on Monday night at home against the San Diego Aztecs with an 83-69 win on ESPN's Big Monday. With the win the Cougars improved to 4-4 in Mountain West play and 14-7 overall while the Aztecs fell to 3-5 in MWC play and 12-11 overall. Senior Rafael Araujo was unusually quiet on offense for the night as he finished with seven points, six rebounds and four assists. What wasn't quiet about Araujo was his defense. "In the end, Rafa got a huge defensive ballgame going," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "It's nice to win a game when he's not scoring 25 points a game." Five Cougars scored in double figures to lead the way for BYU, mostly off the open looks that many Cougars got as the Aztecs focused their defense on Araujo. "When Rafa gets as much attention as he does, it frees up other guys and Meads took care of that," said Cleveland. Redshirt freshman Garner Meads benefited greatly from the free looks as he recorded a career-high 19 points while junior Mike Hall finished two points short of his career high with 20 points on the night. Seniors Mark Bigelow, Luiz Lemes and Kevin Woodberry were the other Cougars to score in double figures with 10, 11 and 10, respectively. On defense, the Cougars held the Aztecs leading scorer, Brandon Heath, to only three points on the night. That's down a great deal from his usual 16.7 points per game average. San Diego opened up the game with a 7-0 run, which the Cougars followed with a 5-0 run of their own. BYU's first lead of the game came with 16:34 left in the half as Hall stole the ball and dribbled the length of the court for a slam-dunk and put the Cougars up 10-9. Araujo picked up his second foul only five minutes into the game and sat out the remainder of the half, entering intermission without having attempted a shot. With Araujo on the bench, the other big men were called on to fill up the middle, and Shoff responded by tying his season high of four points in 13 minutes of action in the half. Shoff scored the final basket of the half for the Cougars to keep BYU ahead of the Aztecs, 30-29, going into the break. The second half started with the Cougars going on a 9-0 run, capped with a dunk by Meads as he rebounded Bigelow's missed three-point attempt. BYU lead by as many as 10 at 58-48 with 7:52 left to play in the game, but the Aztecs went on a 9-1 run and made it a two-point game at 59-57 with 5:16 left to play. With 49 seconds left in regulation, Heath gave the Aztecs a two-point lead at 65-67. The Cougars came down the court and Bigelow spotted up from the right-hand corner and buried a jumper to tie the game at 67 apiece with 35 second left in the game. Heath brought the ball up for the Aztecs and dribbled down the clock and threw up a last second shot with the Lemes in his face that bounced around the rim and fell off with no time left, sending the game into overtime. From the opening tip in the overtime the Cougars looked like a completely different team as they dominated the Aztecs up and down the floor. Hall took the opening tip-off in for a two-handed jam with only five seconds ticking off the clock. BYU stopped the Aztecs on their end of the floor, came down the court and Lemes nailed a three-pointer to give BYU a 72-67 lead. The Cougars never looked back in the overtime as they went on a 16-0 run, not allowing the Aztecs a single basket until there was under a minute left. BYU went on to win 83-69.

NOTE WORTHY

With last year's win over SDSU in Provo, Steve Cleveland moved into second on the all-time Marriott Center wins list, passing Ladell Andersen with his 82nd win at home.

BYU's LAST OUTING - MISCUES FUEL SAINT MARY'S VICTORY OVER BYU

MORAGA -- The Saint Mary's Gaels took advantage of various BYU turnovers and a big second half to defeat the Cougars 72-51, Tuesday at the McKeon Pavilion. "Saint Mary's is a very good team but the fact is, we beat ourselves," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "We made a lot of unforced errors. They got on us in the second and we couldn't finish. We made some turnovers and the game got away from us." BYU had 25 turnovers that led to 35 Gael points, half of their total for the game. The Cougars hit 41 percent of their shots while Saint Mary's shot 44 percent. The loss ended a season-best three game win streak by BYU. "Defensively we played well," Cleveland said. "For the most part, most of what they got came off our turnovers. We made stops and played well but they took advantage of our mistakes." Sophomore center Derek Dawes nearly registered a double-double for the Cougars with 10 rebounds and nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Senior guard Mike Hall led BYU with 12 points, shooting 5-of-10 while sophomore guards Mike Rose and Austin Ainge each scored six. Junior forward Daniel Kickert led all scorers with 23 while senior guard Paul Marigney added 19 for the Gaels. Senior forward Frederic Adjiwanou came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds while senior guard E.J. Rowland recorded seven assists. Saint Mary's took control of the game after gaining momentum on a buzzer beating three by Kickert to end the first half. The Gaels jumped on the Cougars in the second, increasing the lead from 31-28 to 42-30. Rose led a small BYU rally, hitting two threes to cut the lead to 44-36. The Cougars had a chance to cut the lead to six but freshman forward Chris Miles missed a dunk and was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. The Gaels capitalized by hitting a free throw and getting a three from Marigney to take control at 48-36. The game was close throughout the first half, marked by ten lead changes and five ties. BYU jumped ahead early on a three by Mike Hall and held the lead at 7-6 and 11-10 before the Gaels jumped ahead 17-13. The Cougars regained the lead at 20-17 on a 7-0 run trigged by five Hall points. Saint Mary's took control after BYU took the lead with an 11-2 run to go up 28-22. The Cougars would not let the game get away as senior guard Terry Nashif hit a three and Dawes added a three point play to tie the game at 26. The Gaels stole back the momentum going into the locker room on Kickert's buzzer beating three, giving Saint Mary's the 31-28 lead. Despite attempting a season-low three free throw attempts, BYU was perfect from the line to extended its consecutive free throw streak to 27. The Cougars hit their last 24 against Santa Clara. "We have to learn from this," Cleveland said. "Everything that we did poorly are things that we can correct. We have to find the positives and get ready for San Diego State. We need to have some good practices and get this thing turned around."

HALL SHOOTING 61 PERCENT OVER LAST FOUR GAMES

Senior Mike Hall has made 22 of his last 36 shots (.611) over the last four games. He was 5-of-10 at Saint Mary's in BYU's last outing. On the year he is shooting 43 percent from the floor and 39 percent on threes. He leads the Cougars in scoring at 13.5 ppg.

ROSE HAD HOT HAND IN LAST TWO HOME GAMES

Sophomore guard Mike Rose was BYU's leading scorer in home wins over Southern Utah and Santa Clara. He averaged 20.0 ppg while making 63.2 percent of his shots from the floor, including 8-of-14 treys (.571), and shot 72.7 percent from the line. Rose equaled a career-high 26 points while adding a season-high 5 assists vs. Santa Clara.

JENSEN EFFICIENT IN THE POST

Jared Jensen has made 23 of his last 33 field goal attempts (.697) overall. In BYU's last home game, he scored a career-high 23 points in a win over Santa Clara, going 7-for-9 from the floor. Jensen also tied a career-high for most free throws made in a game, going 9-9 against Santa Clara, topping his previous high this season of seven free throws made against Boise State. It was Jensen's fifth perfect night from the line this season. Jensen is shooting .829 from the charity stripe this season, tops among Cougars with a minimum of 10 attempts.

AINGE PROVING POINT

Point guard Austin Ainge is one of BYU's young players taking advantage of his opportunity for playing time this season. He has earned the starting position, making the last six starts. He had a career-high 7 rebounds vs. Santa Clara, career-best 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting vs. Utah State and a career-most 8 assists vs. NC State. He is now earning the majority of the point guard minutes with senior Terry Nashif coming off the bench. Overall, he is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.3 ppg and leads the team in assists at 3.2 apg.

INJURY ISSUES - MEADS PROBABLE FOR SATURDAY

BYU has suffered through many different injury issues in the post this year. Sophomore forward Garner Meads has missed the last three games and five games overall this year due to injury. Tests Monday were negative for a stress fracture in his foot. He could return to action Saturday vs. San Diego State. Meads had already missed two games (ankle) earlier this season. Freshman center David Burgess is scheduled for ankle surgery and will be out for the season. Freshman forward Trent Plaisted is out indefinitely (knee). Sophomore center Derek Dawes has played the last six games with a broken thumb. Senior F/C Jared Jensen played limited minutes vs. Utah State due to food poisoning and junior forward Joshua Burgess has been slowed by back problems. Freshman F/C Chris Miles is the only Cougar post player not to have his play limited during the regular season due to illness or injury.

REISMAN NO LONGER WITH TEAM

Junior-college transfer Josh Reisman is having a second surgery to repair a broken nose he sustained during the summer. The junior point guard has appeared in one game for five minutes playing behind sophomore Austin Ainge and senior Terry Nashif.

YOUNG TEAM FACING STRONG SCHEDULE

BYU's team includes seven sophomores and three freshman. Of the Cougars seeing double-digit minutes, six are sophomores, three are seniors and one is a freshman, BYU's schedule includes 10 teams that finished in the top three in their respective league standings last year, with eight finishing as either the league champion or runner-up. Seven teams played in the NCAA Tournament and five were invited to the NIT, while eight opponents achieved 20-win seasons last year. North Carolina, North Carolina State and Stanford all finished the season in the final top-25 rankings. The Cougars have played two teams from the ACC in the same season for the first time in nearly 50 years and they also have faced four teams from the Pac-10 for the first time since 1998-99. The last time BYU had a schedule with two ACC teams was the 1955-56 season when the Cougars played at both NC State and Wake Forest.

SHOOTING PERCENTAGE/WINNING PERCENTAGE

BYU is 5-1 when out shooting its opponent and 0-8 when the opponent has the better percentage. The Cougars topped 50 percent shooting the three games (all wins) prior to shooting 41 percent at Saint Mary's. BYU shot below 40 percent in six of its first 10 games. BYU shot 52 percent vs. Santa Clara and made 50 percent from the floor and a season-high 57 percent on threes (12-of-21) vs. Southern Utah. The Cougars made a season-high 60 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent on threes in its win at Weber State.

FREE THROW STREAK

BYU has made 27 straight free throws as a team over the last two games.

FREE THROW RECORD

BYU finished the game against Santa Clara making 24 consecutive free throws, a new school record. The previous single-game record was 18 straight makes against Wyoming in 1996. The Cougars made a total of 33 free throws on 36 attempts vs. the Broncos, setting season-highs in both categories.

SCORING SPREE

BYU's 59-point second half against Santa Clara is its most points in a half under head coach Steve Cleveland. The previous high was 56 first-half points against Rice in 2002.

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL

After averaging 23 turnovers to only 6 assists in its first two outings this year, BYU had taken better care of the ball until committing 25 turnovers at Saint Mary's Tuesday. Over the prior 11 games, the Cougars were averaging 13.3 turnovers and 14.5 assists. During BYU's three-game victory streak, the Cougars averaged 17.3 assists and only 10.7 turnovers. BYU equaled its season low of eight turnovers and made 15 assists at Weber State and had 18 assists and 11 turnovers vs. Southern Utah followed by 19 assists and 13 turnovers vs. Santa Clara.

FIVE STRAIGHT POSTSEASON INVITES

BYU earned its fifth straight postseason invitation in 2003-04, including its third NCAA Tournament berth in the last four years. The Cougars earned their second consecutive NCAA at-large invitation after finishing the year with the MWC's best RPI rating and strength of schedule ranking. The Cougars also had the league's top win with its victory over Big 12 Champion and NCAA Final Four participant Oklahoma State.

CONFERENCE TITLES

BYU has won two regular season MWC titles (2001 and 2003) and one MWC Tournament crown (2001) during the five years of the Mountain West Conference. BYU finished second in the regular season this year and was the 2000 MWC Tournament runner-up.

MWC SUCCESS

With BYU's 10-4 conference record last year, Steve Cleveland now has the most MWC wins of any coach. He passed Wyoming's Steve McClain last season and now has 45 MWC wins compared to McClain's 41.

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 2-0

On the road 0-1

On a neutral floor 0-1

At home vs. Nonconference 2-0

At home vs. MWC 12-0

On the road vs. Nonconference 0-1

On the road vs. MWC 3-0

On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 0-1

On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1

at regular season tournament 1-0

at MWC Tournament 0-1

at NCAA Tournament 0-5

at NIT 0-1

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