Cougar fans will get to see the defending-champion San Diego State Aztecs take on BYU Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYU GAME #15/MWC GAME #1 FAST FACTS
BYU COUGARS (10-4, 0-0)
SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (11-4, 0-1)
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2007
Marriott Center (22,700)
3:35 p.m. MST
BYU, Dave Rose (30-13 in second season; same overall)
SDSU, Steve Fisher (116-110 in eighth season; 300-192 in 16 years overall)
BYU leads, 39-19 after 100-90 win in last outing on Feb. 22, 2006 in Provo
Broadcast nationally on VERSUS, which can be found on DirectTV (Channel 608), Dish Network (Channel 151) or by contacting your local cable provider (Ted Robinson, play-by-play; Craig Ehlo, game analysis)
KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (2:30 p.m. MST pregame show -- Greg Wrubell, play-by-play; Mark Durrant, game analysis)
Live audio and live stats links are available on the basketball schedule page at www.byucougars.com/basketball_m/
Lower Chair -- $18
Upper Chair -- $12
Lower Bench -- $10
Upper Bench -- $5
University/College Student -- $5
Student All-Sport Cardholders -- Free
BYU Opens MWC Play Saturday Hosting Reigning Champion San Diego State
BYU (10-4, 0-0 MWC) opens its Mountain West Conference schedule at home Saturday against reigning conference champion San Diego State (11-4, 0-1 MWC). The game will be televised nationally on VERSUS at 3:30 p.m. MST. The radio broadcast can be heard beginning with the pregame show at 2:30 p.m. on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM out of Salt Lake City or via the Internet at ksl.com. The Cougars have won their last five games, including three victories last week to win the BYU Holiday Classic. The Aztecs began the year with eight straight wins on the way to an 11-3 nonconference record before being upset at home Wednesday by Wyoming, 66-65, in their league opener. The Cougars had a bye Wednesday as the lone MWC team not in action.
BYU stays at home to host TCU Wednesday at 7 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on the MountainWest Sports Network (the mtn.).
COUGAR QUICK HITS
-- Cougar head coach Dave Rose guided BYU to a 20-9 record and an NIT appearance last season in his first year at the helm after eight years as BYU's lead assistant. He was named the Mountain West Conference and USBWA District VIII Coach of the Year. Rose coached his team to a second-place MWC finish -- one game behind league-champion San Diego State -- while turning a 9-21 team into a 20-9 success that proved to be the second-best improvement among all Division I programs.
-- BYU was picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference in the preseason MWC media poll behind reigning champion San Diego State.
-- BYU's roster this season includes a solid core of returning players, including six seniors and Trent Plaisted, the MWC Freshman of the Year last year. One of nine returning lettermen, Plaisted was named a Freshman All-American after leading BYU in both scoring (13.6) and rebounding (6.9) one year ago. 2006 All-MWC Third Team forward Keena Young leads BYU this year in scoring (16.6) and is second on the boards (7.0), while Plaisted is the top rebounder (7.2) and second in scoring (11.4). Senior Austin Ainge leads BYU with 3.6 assists per game.
BYU's PROBABLE Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Keena Young 6-6 215 Sr. 16.6 7.0
F/C 44 Trent Plaisted 6-11 245 So. 11.4 7.2
G 30 Lee Cummard 6-6 180 So. 9.9 6.0
G 23 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 205 Sr. 9.9 3.9
G 1 Rashaun Broadus 6-0 190 Sr. 5.2
LOOKING AT SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State is the defending Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament champions, returning four starters and seven lettermen from last year's 24-9 team that earned a 13-3 conference record and an NCAA Tournament berth. The Aztecs began the year with eight straight wins and finished their nonconference schedule with an 11-3 record. San Diego State was upset at home Wednesday to open league play, falling 66-65 to Wyoming in a rematch of the 2006 MWC championship game. At 11-3 in nonconference play, San Diego State matched its best start in the last 21 seasons, three games ahead of its Division I-era record-setting 24-win total from last season, when SDSU was 8-6 after 14 games. Last year, SDSU did not win its 11th game until Jan. 18. The 2006-07 Aztec squad may go down as the best shooting squad in school history. Through Sunday's games, SDSU ranked 10th in field goal percentage (50.8 ), 12th in three-point field goal percentage (42.0) and 46th in free throw percentage (42.9) of the 325 Division I teams. Four of the Aztecs' top five scorers shoot above 48 percent from the field, and the other, Heath, a John Wooden Award candidate, is 28th nationally in scoring. Heath, the MWC's all-time leader in scoring and steals, passed Michael Cage (1,846 points) Wednesday vs. Wyoming as SDSU's career scoring leader. The senior ranks fifth among all active Division I players in scoring. The Aztecs posted a .500 or better month for a seventh consecutive month by closing out December with a 78-68 victory over Lafayette. The victory was Steve Fisher's 300th of his career. SDSU is 7-2 at home, 2-2 on the road and 2-0 on neutral floors. The Aztec road wins were at St. Mary's (74-73) and UC Santa Barbara (76-72). The Aztecs are averaging 76.8 points on .495 shoooting from the floor, .400 on threes and .741 from the line. SDSU is allowing 69.7 points on .430 shooting, including .320 from long range. They are winning the battle of the boards 35.2-32.5.
SDSU'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 33 Kyle Spain 6-5 229 So. 8.2 4.7
F 34 Mohamed Abukar 6-10 229 Sr. 16.7 6.2
F 4 Jerome Habel 6-10 200 Jr. 10.1 6.9
G 1 Brandon Heath 6-4 203 Sr. 20.3 3.9
G 3 Richie Williams 5-9 162 So. 7.1 4.3
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 31 Lorrenzo Wade 6-6 228 So. 10.7 4.5
F 2 Jer'Vaughn Johnson 6-6 254 Fr. 3.6 2.1
SDSU'S LAST OUTING -- Wyoming Edges San Diego State in Cox Arena
SAN DIEGO -- James Spencer scored 22 points and hit a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left to lift Wyoming to a 66-65 win over San Diego State on Wednesday. San Diego State took a 65-61 lead on Brandon Heath's running jumper in the lane with 51.8 seconds left. Wyoming countered with a basket by Brandon Ewing with 30.7 seconds remaining. But Heath, who earlier had become San Diego State's career scoring leader, missed a free throw with 22.7 seconds to set up Spencer's game-winning shot. Wyoming (10-5, 1-0 Mountain West), which broke a two-game losing streak, has split its last four games by a total of seven points. Coach Steve McClain recorded his 150th career win in his ninth season at Wyoming. Heath led San Diego State (11-4, 0-1) with 26 points and surpassed Michael Cage's school-record 1,846 career points with a driving basket at the 12:30 mark of the second half. Heath, already the Mountain West Conference's career scoring leader, scored in double figures for the 40th straight game and has 1,856 points. Daaron Brown and Ewing each scored 19 points for the Cowboys, who outrebounded San Diego State 43-35.
BYU owns a 39-19 advantage over the Aztecs in a series that dates back to 1941. The Cougars are 24-3 in Provo, 15-15 in San Diego and 0-1 at a neutral site. BYU has won 12 of the last 18 games and owns an 9-6 advantage since the inception of the MWC, but the Aztecs had won three straight before BYU's win in the season finale between the two teams last year in the Marriott Center. SDSU's three game victory streak matched their longest ever in the series when the Aztecs won the first three outings (two in 1941 and one in 1977). During the most recent three-game streak, SDSU swept the 2005 season series -- the first season sweep over BYU since 1985. Dave Rose is 1-1 against the Aztecs.
BYU SERIES RECORD VS. SAN DIEGO STATE
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 39-19
BYU Record in Provo: 24-3
BYU Record in San Diego: 15-15
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-1
BYU Record under Dave Rose: 1-1
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, and 2005-2006)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 40, 106-66 in 1982
Largest SDSU Margin of Victory: 27, 88-61 in 2006
Most Points Scored by BYU: 123 in 1980
Most Points Scored by SDSU: 104 in 1977
QUOTING COACH ROSE
San Diego State is a very talented team. Their top six players play a lot of minutes. Coach Fisher has a lot of good young players that he's playing more now than earlier. The stakes are a lot higher in conference play. Everybody's goal is to win a conference championship. To open at home with the defending champions is exciting for our team and our fans. The formula for winning championships is winning games at home. That makes this game that much more important.
LAST OUTING LAST YEAR IN PROVO -- Fast-Paced Victory Over League-Leaders For Cougars
PROVO -- In a furiously paced game between two of the Mountain West Conference's best teams, BYU ran past San Diego State, 100-90, Wednesday night at the Marriott Center. The Cougars (17-7, 9-4 MWC) shot a season-best 75.9 percent from the field in the second half while maintaining their place in the MWC and gaining a game on the first-place Aztecs (18-8, 11-3). Six Cougars scored in double figures, led by Keena Young with a career-high 20 points. Austin Ainge scored 16 off the bench while shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from three-point range. BYU head coach Dave Rose was pleased with the all-around team effort. The game started out like a track meet, with BYU's fast-paced offense jumping out to an early 6-2 lead. SDSU came back behind Mohamed Abukar and Kyle Spain, who combined for 15 early points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting from the field to give the Aztecs a 21-19 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Jimmy Balderson and Ainge came off the bench to spark BYU, leading the Cougars on a 7-2 run and giving them a 24-21 lead with 7:57 left. Balderson and Ainge started a combined 4-for-4 from behind the three point line. BYU also held the Aztecs' two-headed scoring monster of Marcus Slaughter and Brandon Heath to just three points on 1-for-9 shooting in the first 16 minutes. The Cougar defensive intensity powered a 7-0 run and put BYU ahead 35-31 at the 2:44 mark in the first half. The half ended at the same fast pace that it started with as BYU maintained a three-point lead, 41-38, after Abukar hit a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer. The Cougars were led in the first half by Balderson, who scored 12, and Ainge, who added 11 on 3-for-3 shooting from behind the arc. The second half started with the Aztecs running to take a 50-48 lead and forcing BYU to take an early time-out. Young began to establish inside presence, scoring on consecutive trips down the court. Jackson Emery came up with steal and a dunk and an assist setting up a Trent Plaisted dunk. The crowd intensified with the Cougars' run. BYU built a 76-68 lead with 7:30 remaining in the game. The Cougars built a double-digit lead at 80-70 and held on to the lead with clutch foul shooting and lights-out shooting from the field. BYU scored 100 points for the first time in a conference game since defeating San Diego State 101-87 in 1994. The win ended a three-game losing skid to the Aztecs and improved BYU's overall record against SDSU to 39-19. Picked to finish last in the MWC, BYU has won seven of its last eight games and has now defeated every team in the conference while earning in a third-place standing, one game back of the front-running Aztecs in the loss column.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "A lot of guys stepped up and made a lot of good plays."
-- "We have now beat every team in the conference this season, and it is all about our confidence; confidence in themselves and confidence in each other."
-- "We had momentum and kept it going to make huge plays."
-- "Our shooting in the second half was as well as we have shot all season."
San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher
-- "We had a hard time guarding in the post, and they made us pay."
-- "You're not going to win very often when you allow 100 points. We fought hard, but we didn't play smart or defend smart like we needed to do to win."
-- "BYU made the big shots tonight. Ainge was fantastic and gave them a boost when they needed it."
-- "BYU was with out question the better team tonight. They made the important plays and deserved to win."
-- "BYU did a nice job guarding everybody. They guarded us hard and didn't give us any easy shots."
FIRST OUTING LAST YEAR IN SAN DIEGO -- AZTECS PROVE TOO MUCH FOR COUGARS
SAN -- The Cougars started strong but could not keep up with the Mountain West Conference's hottest team as BYU fell 88-61 to San Diego State Saturday night in Cox Arena. Keena Young was, once again, a bright spot for the Cougars in his first start of the season as he tied his career high with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting while contributing a team-high nine rebounds. Young has scored 16 in three of the last five games. Trent Plaisted's scoring troubles on the road came to an end as he reached double figures with 12 points for the first time in MWC road play. Brock Reichner recorded 11 points while adding a career-high six boards. The two teams battled it out in the opening minutes, with a three-pointer from Brock Reichner giving BYU its largest lead of the game at 9-6. From there, the Aztecs went on a 6-0 spurt sparked by Marcus Slaughter to take their first lead of the game at 12-9. Slaughter scored 11 straight for SDSU to keep the Aztecs ahead as BYU continued to play tough and fight for the lead, trailing by just two points at 21-19. However, two consecutive turnovers from Rashaun Broadus bolstered the confidence of the Aztecs and sparked an 8-0 run. Keena Young put a stop to the BYU scoring drought with a jumper at the 5:45 mark but it was not enough to get the Cougars going as SDSU put together an 11-0 run from there to take a 40-21 lead. BYU managed just two baskets in the last 8:19 of the first half as the Aztecs outscored the Cougars 21-4 to take a 42-24 lead into the locker room. BYU came out confident in the second half, having outscored opponents in the second period of play in all but two games this season, and got two quick baskets, including Trent Plaisted's 15th dunk of the season. But the Aztecs were ready for the push and responded accordingly, doubling up the Cougars' makes for the first five minutes of the half to build a 65-39 lead. True freshman Jackson Emery entered the game at the 12:00 minute mark and made an immediate impact with a steal and a three-point make but could not spark BYU at either end of the floor. The Cougars continued struggling to find the hoop and could not stop the 1-2 punch of Slaughter and Brandon Heath, who rank first and third, respectively, in the conference in scoring and combined for 43 points. With the loss, BYU falls to 10-6 on the season and 2-3 in conference play while San Diego State improves to 12-6 overall and takes sole possession of first place in the MWC with a 5-1 record. The Cougars have now lost seven straight league road games dating back to last season.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose:
-- "This is obviously a setback. But there are times when you get really discouraged with your team and this is not one of them. This team fought hard. We weren't very good tonight, but there's a lot of basketball left to play and this team is going to get better."
San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher
-- "I've been on the other side of a game like this when playing BYU. It can happen. If it happens, it usually happens on your home territory. We just have to keep things up, keep digging, not think that we are better than we really are and should just enjoy this win tonight."
BYU's LAST OUTING -- Cougars Win BYU Holiday Classic with Victory over Seton Hall
PROVO -- The Cougar basketball team capped off the BYU Holiday Classic Saturday night beating Seton Hall 77-68 and becoming the 2006 tournament champions. The first game of Saturday's tournament play featured a blowout with Oral Roberts defeating Liberty 90-58. BYU improves its record to 10-4 on the season with the win, and Seton Hall falls to 8-4. BYU's Keena Young was the tournament's MVP and BYU's Lee Cummard, Seton Hall's Brian Laing, Liberty's Larry Blair and Caleb Green and Ken Tutt of Oral Roberts were selected to the 2006 BYU Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team. The Cougars took awhile to find their rhythm early on as they missed their first four shots and turned the ball over three times. Young finally got BYU going when he hit a fade-away baseline jumper to put BYU on the board. Young finished the night with 26 points and nine boards. Seton Hall started out hot claiming a 12-4 advantage over the Cougars, but guard Jimmy Balderson ignited the team taking a charge at the 14:30 mark. On the next two possessions, BYU hit back-to-back triples by Cummard and Ainge to cut the deficit to 12-10. The Arizona-native guards Cummard and Ainge had career nights with 16 points each and 12 and nine boards, respectively. All of those stats were career or season highs. Mike Rose and Vuk Ivanovic gave BYU a huge lift off the bench in the first half. Ivanovic had a career-high four blocks, and Rose grabbed a steal and hit a deep three to give BYU its first lead 21-20 with 10 minutes remaining. On the next possession Cummard crashed the boards and slammed home a one-handed dunk off a rebound that had all 10,103 fans in the Marriot Center on their feet screaming. The Pirates maintained control of the game throughout the half forcing 15 BYU first-half turnovers and scoring 24 points off them. Seton Hall led at the midway mark 43-35. The eight-point deficit marked the first time the Cougars have trailed at half for this season. The Cougars began the second half attacking the basket and forcing the Pirates to commit six fouls before the first media timeout but were only able to cut the deficit to seven. The Pirates had problems all night getting a body on Cummard as he once again grabbed an offensive board and converted a two-point bucket to tie the game at 58 with 7:52. The Cougars then tightened up with a zone defense on Seton Hall and took a six-point lead at 67-61 when Broadus nailed a three with 5:13 remaining. Plaisted then let the Pirates know how difficult it is to win in the Marriott Center when he got a huge block, ran the entire floor and ended up with a two-handed throw-down to give BYU its largest lead of the game, 71-64. Down the stretch the Cougars' defense was spectacular as they held Seton Hall to just seven points in the last five and a half minutes of the game. BYU held on to the lead and extended its current win streak to five games as the Cougars beat the Pirates 77-68.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "I have been involved in a lot of three-night tournaments. This reminded me of that. You had a lot of guys gassed out there and leaving it out there on the court. Our guys did a great job of pulling it out. We rebounded the ball well and forced a lot of turnovers. I think our team grew a lot in the last three days. Things are coming together going into league play."
-- "Seton Hall is very athletic and strong. We had to figure out a way to keep them away from the basket. The last three minutes of the game we did that."
-- "One of the keys for this team will be not how the players respond to the minutes they get, but it will be how they respond to the minutes they don't get.The strength of this team is not one player. It is that we have a lot of guys that play hard and play together."
Seton Hall Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez
-- "They had everything going their way. We needed to hit some big shots at the end, and we didn't pull it off."
-- "I'm not trying to make excuses for our kids. We just didn't have enough at the end. We battled hard."
-- "Brian Laing had a double-double two nights in a row, and I really feel he was our best player overall in the tournament."
-- "It takes courage for a team to come play these three games in three days against tough teams on a neutral court. We will try to learn from this trip, go home and recover and get ready for the Big East."
-- "I am proud of these kids. They fought hard, and they gave everything they had. Our post defense was exceptional considering what we faced."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- BYU Holiday Classic Results: BYU -- 3-0 (Champion), Oral Roberts -- 2-1, Seton Hall -- 1-2, Liberty -- 0-3.
-- BYU Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team: Keena Young -- BYU (MVP), Lee Cummard -- BYU, Caleb Green -- Oral Roberts, Ken Tutt -- Oral Roberts, Brian Laing -- Seton Hall, Larry Blair -- Liberty.
-- BYU head coach Dave Rose has used the same starting lineup in the last five games, giving Rashaun Broadus, Lee Cummard, Jimmy Balderson, Keena Young and Trent Plaisted the starting nod. The group also started the first two games of the season. BYU is 6-1 on those games (lone loss at current No. 1 UCLA).
-- Individual Career Highs: Lee Cummard - 16 points, 12 rebounds; Austin Ainge - 9 rebounds; Trent Plaisted - 5 assists; Vuk Ivanovic - 4 blocks.
-- Individual Season Highs: Austin Ainge -- 16 points; Keena Young - 3 assists.
-- Team Season Highs: 54 rebounds.
-- BYU's win over Seton Hall extended its home winning streak to 23 games, which is tied for the third-longest active home victory streak in the nation. The Cougars are 9-0 at home this season. BYU has won 15 straight games over nonconference opponents in the Marriott Center.
-- With five straight victories over Utah State, Western Oregon, Liberty, Oral Roberts and Seton Hall, the Cougars are enjoying their longest winning streak of the season. BYU could tie its longest winning streak of last season at six games with a victory in its next game against San Diego State.
-- BYU is now 10-1 when scoring at least 70 points in a game and 9-0 when holding opponents under 70 points. The Cougars are also 10-0 this season when outrebounding their opponents, posting a 55-34 advantage against the Pirates on the glass.
-- BYU's 43-35 halftime deficit against Seton Hall marked just the fourth time this season BYU has trailed at the half and the first time they have trailed at the break at home. BYU is now 1-3 when trailing at the half.
-- With 26 points against the Pirates, Young has now scored in double figures in 13 of 14 games, including three outings with at least 20 points. He averaged 21.3 points per game during the BYU Holiday Classic.
-- Cummard recorded the first double-double of his career in the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs. Cummard's career-high setting bucket came at the 7:52 mark in the second half to tie the game 58-58 for the first time since BYU led 23-22 at the 8:44 mark in the first period. Cummard's 11 first-half points marked the first time this season he has reached double-digits before the break.
-- Austin Ainge recorded his fourth double-digit scoring outing of the year with a season-high 16 points.
-- Vuk Ivanovic saw his first action since Western Oregon with 11:41 left in the first half, recording a blocked shot and an assist in his first minute of play. He finished with four rebounds and four blocks in 11 minutes.
-- Seton Hall scored the first eight points of the game until a basket by Young at the 16:43 mark got the Cougars on the board. Trailing 12-4, BYU put together a 10-2 run to tie the game at 14-14, thanks in part to back-to-back three-pointers from Cummard and Austin Ainge and five total points from Cummard.
-- Three minutes later, Cummard gave BYU its first lead of the game at 21-20 with a putback bucket at the 9:59 mark. He followed that with a one-handed putback dunk off a Young miss -- his fifth slam of the year.
BYU is 4-3 in MWC openers, with a 3-1 record at home and 1-2 mark on the road. The Cougars have lost their last three conference openers after winning their first four. BYU will be facing San Diego State in the league opener for the fifth time in the eight years of the MWC. BYU is 2-2 against SDSU in MWC openers, with a 2-1 record at home and 0-1 record in San Diego. BYU's 59-57 loss to the Aztecs to open the 2005 MWC season is the Cougars lone home loss in an MWC opener. BYU has opened against either SDSU or UNLV every season but last year when the Cougars started league play at Air Force. BYU has gone on to earn a postseason invite in six of the seven previous MWC seasons, finishing as league champs twice (2001 and 2003) and MWC Tournament champions once (2001). BYU's opening opponent has advanced to postseason in four of the seven seasons, with one (UNLV in 2000) claiming a share of the league regular season and two (UNLV in 2000 and SDSU in 2002) winning the conference tournament.
With five straight wins against Utah State, Western Oregon, Liberty, Oral Roberts and Seton Hall, the Cougars are currently enjoying their longest winning streak of the season. Earlier this year with wins against Idaho State, Portland and Southern Utah, the Cougars put together a three-game win streak, which ended with a loss at Boise State. BYU had several winning streaks last season, including its longest since the 2003-04 season at six straight victories. That streak was tied for the seventh-longest active winning streak in the nation. The Cougars' prior victory streaks last year included one four-game streak, two three-game streaks and two two-game streaks. BYU won 10 of its last 13 games last year.
ON THE ROAD
BYU's win at Weber State marked the Cougars' first road win of the season. BYU is 1-3 on the road this year with a season-opening loss at current No. 1 UCLA, a Nov. 29 setback at Boise State and an overtime defeat at Lamar. The Cougars lost their only neutral court so far this season with a loss against No. 25 Michigan State at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. The victory over the Wildcats snapped a three-game road losing streak dating back to last year's season-ending defeat at Houston in the NIT and a five-game nonconference road losing streak since defeating Washington State last year in Spokane Arena on Nov. 22, 2005. BYU finished last year 6-8 away from home, including a 4-4 mark during MWC play.
BOUNCE BACK COUGARS
The Cougars' back-to-back losses vs. then-No. 25 Michigan State and at Lamar marked the first time under Dave Rose that BYU has lost consecutive regular-season games. Prior to the Lamar loss, BYU had bounced back from each of its two losses this season with wins, including back-to-back victories after their loss at Boise State on Nov. 29. BYU recovered from its season-opening loss at then No. 5 UCLA (now ranked No. 1 in the polls) with three straight wins. Last year with its 20-9 overall record, BYU suffered consecutive defeats only once -- against Utah in the Mountain West Conference Tournament and at Houston in the NIT in the last two games of the year, having bounced back from each prior loss with a victory.
MAGIC NUMBER: 70
This year the Cougars are scoring 76.5 points and allowing 66.7 points. BYU is 9-0 when opponents score less than 70 points this year and 1-4 when they score 70 or more. BYU is 10-1 when it scores 70 or more points (exception at Lamar) and 0-3 when scoring less than 70. Last year BYU was 12-0 when holding opponents under 70 points and 8-9 when allowing opponents to surpass the 70-point threshold. Cougar foes averaged 71.7 points per game last year. BYU was also 17-4 when scoring 70 or more points and 3-5 when falling below the 70-point mark. The Cougars led the MWC in scoring last year, averaging 76.2 ppg, and scored 100 points in conference play for the first time since Feb. 10, 1994 in their home game against league-champion San Diego State.
CLEANING OFF THE GLASS
BYU is 10-0 this season when outrebounding its opponents and 0-4 when losing the battle of the boards. Sophomore Trent Plaisted leads BYU with 7.2 rpg, followed by senior Keena Young at 7.0 rpg. BYU averaged 49.0 rebounds per game last week during the BYU Holiday Classic, including back-to-back season-high efforts of 52 rebounds Friday vs. Oral Roberts and then 55 against Seton Hall on Saturday. BYU outrebounded the Pirates 55-34 as four Cougars had nine or more rebounds (Cummard 12, Young, Plaisted and
Ainge 9). Cummard and Ainge achieved new careeer highs.
BYU is the only Mountain West Conference team that has not had a game decided by three points or less this season. The Cougars have had some close games, however, as three games have required overtime this season. BYU is 2-1 in overtime with an 86-77 loss at Lamar and an 84-78 win against Idaho State on Nov. 18 and a 73-69 victory at Weber State on Dec. 2. This is the first season since 2001-02 that BYU has played multiple extra period games in one year (BYU was 0-3 in overtime that season). The Cougars' loss at Lamar ended a five-game overtime winning streak dating back to March 14, 2003, an 86-80 setback against Colorado State at the MWC Tournament. BYU is 50-45 (.526) all-time when playing past regulation.
VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
BYU is the only MWC team to face two ranked opponents during nonconference play. The Cougars lost 76-61 to then-No. 25 Michigan State (currenlty No. 24) at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. BYU suffered a season-opening (82-69) loss at then-No. 5 UCLA (currenlty No. 1) on Nov. 15. BYU's last win over a ranked team came at the Delta Center (recently renamed EnergySolutions Arena) in Salt Lake City on Dec. 6, 2003 with a 76-71 victory vs. 25th-ranked Oklahoma State, who advanced to the Final Four that season.
KEENA YOUNG NA MED MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK (JAN 2)
COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU senior Keena Young was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week, marking his first career weekly honor. A 6-6 forward from Beaumont, Texas, Young was named tournament MVP at the BYU Holiday Classic as he led the Cougars to the title with victories over Liberty (73-59), Oral Roberts (72-62) and Seton Hall (77-68). He scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting against Liberty to open the Classic and followed with a career-high 16 rebounds to go along with 21 points scored versus Oral Roberts. Against the Golden Eagles, Young sank nine of his 13 shots from the floor, while his 16 rebounds is a team season-best. In the tournament finale against Seton Hall, he scored 18 of his season-high 26 points in the second half, helping BYU overcome an eight-point halftime deficit to claim the tournament crown. Young also added nine rebounds, a season-best tying three assists, while shooting 11-for-18 from the field and hitting all four of his free throw attempts. For the week, Young averaged 21.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 60.5 percent (26-for-43) from the field and 75.0 percent (12-for-16) from the charity stripe.
IN THE FIRST SEVEN YEARS OF THE MWC ...
-- BYU has had five 20-win seasons, leading all MWC schools along with Utah. UNLV has had three, Wyoming three, New Mexico, San Diego State and Air Force two and Colorado State none.
-- BYU has had the league's top RPI three times, been second once and third on three occasions. The Cougars were third last year (67) behind Air Force (50) and San Diego State (56).
-- BYU has played the toughest schedule on average of any team in the MWC (average strength of schedule rating the past seven years is 66, Utah is next at 78). BYU has had the league's toughest schedule in two of the past three seasons.
-- BYU has the second-most overall wins in the seven years of the MWC (137, Utah leads at 155).
-- BYU is also second in conference wins (60, Utah has 69).
-- BYU has the second-most MWC regular-season titles (two) along with Wyoming (Utah leads with four).
-- BYU is one of six MWC teams to win the MWC Tournament title.
MWC TEAMS IN THE RPI
BYU is rated third among MWC teams in the most updated RPI ratings through Wednesday's league games. BYU is ranked No. 60 and No. 66 nationally in the most recent ratings.
BYU's most consistent player this year has been senior forward Keena Young, who has scored in double figures in 13 out of 14 games. He leads BYU in scoring (16.6) and is second in rebouding (7.0). The senior co-captain has led BYU in scoring six times and rebounding six times, including his career-high 16-rebound performance against Oral Roberts for his fourth double-double of the season (21 points). His 27 points at Weber State is the most by a Cougar since Dec. 13, 2003 (Rafael Araujo - 28).
Senior Austin Ainge is averaging a team-best 3.6 assists and is second on the team in three-pointers (18). He totaled a season-high 16 points with a career-best nine rebounds off the bench Saturday against Seton Hall. He scored 11 points off the bench-- all in the first half -- to give BYU early control of the game against Utah State. His 14 points -- all in the second half -- against Boise State fueled BYU's furious comeback attempt. Ainge has started seven games at the point and come off the bench in seven outings.
DOING IT ALL
Lee Cummard contributes across the box score and on the defensive end of the floor for BYU. In the BYU Holiday Classic, he averaged 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting .542 from the floor, .444 on threes and was perfect from the line. He was named to the all-tournament team. After coming one rebound away from the first double-double of his career against Oral Roberts with 13 points and a then career-high 9 rebounds to go along with 5 assists, he finished the Classic with career highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds vs. Seton Hall. He leads BYU with 19 treys. He has had at least one steal in 12 of 14 games. On the year, Cummard averages 9.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.5 blocks while shooting .531 from the floor, .463 on threes and .850 from the line. He guards the opponent's top perimeter player. One of his defensively highlights was helping hold Utah State's leading shooter Jaycee Carroll, who ranked 22nd in the nation shooting .629, to just .308 shooting (4-for-13) and seven points below his average.
BYU has found success with its current lineup, winning the last five games since returning to the original starting five that began the season. Coach Rose has used four different starting lineups so far this year. The original starting lineup of the season includes Rashaun Broadus at the point, Lee Cummard and Jimmy Balderson on the wing, and Keena Young and Trent Plaisted in the post with Austin Ainge a key player coming off the bench. That lineup is 6-1 overall on the year, with the loss being at current No. 1 UCLA in the season opener. Sophomore Lee Cummard and senior Keena Young have started every game this year, while sophomore Trent Plaisted has missed just one start because of injury. Broadus has started 10 games and Ainge seven with the two points guards starting together on three occasions.
DEFENDING THE HOME COURT
With 23 straight wins in the Marriott Center, the Cougars currently are tied with Air Force for the third-longest active home victory streak in the nation. BYU has won its first nine home games this season after going 14-1 at home last year including wins in its last 14 straight home contests.
BYU has led at the half in 10 of the team's first 14 games. BYU's win over Seton Hall Saturday marked the first time the Cougars have won this year after trailing at the break. The Cougars' 82-69 loss at UCLA after leading 39-36 at the half marked the first time since the 2004-05 season that BYU has lost when leading at the half. The Cougars are now 9-1 when leading at the half and 1-3 when trailing this season and have had a double-digit lead at the break four times. Last year, BYU was 14-0 when leading at the half, 5-9 when trailing and 1-0 when tied. Of the 14 games in which they led at the half, the Cougars led by double digits six times.
BYU STREAKS THIS YEAR ...
Current won/loss streak 5 wins
At home 9-0
On the road 0-1
On a neutral floor 0-1
At home vs. Nonconference 9-0
At home vs. MWC 0-0
On the road vs. Nonconference 0-1
On the road vs. MWC 0-0
On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 0-1
On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-0
at regular-season tournament 3-0