BYU (11-3, 1-0) host UNLV (8-6, 1-2) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The Cougars have won 29 straight at home, including a 9-0 mark this year 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 will take its first MWC road trip of the season to New Mexico and Air Force. The Cougars face New Mexico Saturday in the conference game of the week on ESPN+Plus (KJZZ-14) at 1 p.m. MT. BYU plays Air Force Monday at 2 p.m. MT in a SportsWest broadcast airing on KSL-5.
GAME FACTS (BYU Game 15)
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2002
BYU (11-3, 1-0) vs. UNLV (8-6, 1-2)
Marriott Center [22,700]
7:07 p.m. MT
BYU, Steve Cleveland (78-60 in fifth year; same overall)
UNLV, Charlie Spoonhour (8-6 in first year; 327-177 in 17th year overall)
Series: UNLV leads, 6-5
SportsWest Productions (KSL 5 in SLC)
Air Time: 7 p.m. MT
Play-by-Play: Tom Kirkland
Game Analyst: Craig Hislop
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time - 6 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. 17.4 3.0
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-9 215 Sr. 10.4 5.1
C 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 245 Fr. 9.0 3.6
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Jr. 15.9 7.3
G 31 Matt Montague 6-0 190 Sr. 6.6 7.1 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 20 Daniel Bobik 6-6 205 So. 8.5 3.1
G 22 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 200 Fr. 4.4 1.5
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 So. 1.2 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. 1.7 2.2
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
UNLV (8-6, 1-2 MWC) is coming off an 86-63 loss at Utah Saturday as a hot-shooting Utah team set a school record with 17 three-pointers. Dalron Johnson scored 20 and Marcus Banks had 17 points to lead UNLV. The Rebels won at Air Force 66-54 after losing its conference opener with a 59-69 loss to Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Runnin' Rebels have won three of their last five games and five of their last eight. UNLV is 6-2 at home and 2-4 away from the Thomas & Mack Center this season. Last year, UNLV finished with an overall record of 16-13 and placed fourth in the Mountain West Conference with a 7-7 mark. UNLV returns nine players and welcomes seven new faces to this year's roster. Dalron Johnson leads the team in scoring (17.9) and rebounding (7.6). Marcus Banks is second in scoring (16.2) and leads the team in assists (2.9) and steals (2.4). Lou Kelly is the other Runnin' Rebel averaging double figures in scoring (12.4). Marcus Banks was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 31 after leading the Runnin' Rebels to victories over Tennessee State and Old Dominion. Banks averaged 30 points, four rebounds, five assists and 3.5 steals in two victories at the Thomas & Mack Center. He shot 64 percent from the field (18-of-28), 67 percent from 3-point range (4-of-6) and 95 percent from the free throw line (20-of-21). Dalron Johnson was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 17 after posting a double-double in the Runnin' Rebels 70-68 win at Loyola Marymount. UNLV shoots 45 percent from the floor and nearly 39 percent on threes while averaging 75.1 ppg. The Rebels shoot 67.4 percent from the line. UNLV is under new leadership this season as Charlie Spoonhour is in his first year running the Rebel program. Spoonhour is in his 17th season as a Division I head coach and has a career record of 327-177 (.649). Spoonhour became the 12th head coach in Runnin' Rebel history. He came to UNLV after spending two years out of coaching, but he didn't stray too far away from the game as he served in the media as an analyst on college basketball broadcasts. Prior to that he was the head coach at Saint Louis University for seven years. Before SLU, Spoonhour was head coach at Southwest Missouri State University for nine seasons. He has a 17-year Division I head coaching record of 327-176 (.650) and has led 11 teams to the postseason, including eight to the NCAA Tournament.
BYU can even the overall series with a victory Tuesday as the Rebels hold a 6-5 edge in the 11 previous meetings. The two teams did not play in the 199899 season but have played five times in the last two years. BYU swept the regular season series in 1999-2000 before the Rebels achieved their largest margin of victory over BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center in the 2000 MWC title game. The two teams each won at home last year.
Overall Series Record: UNLV leads 6-5
BYU Record in Provo: 3-2
BYU Record in Las Vegas: 2-4
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 3-4
Longest BYU Win Streak: 2 (1981, 2000)
Longest UNLV Win Streak: 4 (1981-98)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 28, 91-63 in 2001
Largest UNLV Margin of Victory: 23, 56-79 in 2000
Most Points Scored by BYU: 92 in 1981
Most Points Scored by UNLV: 90 in 1981
Date Opponent Score W/L
1-3-81 at UNLV (2OT) 92-90 W
2-6-81 UNLV 86-77 W
12-5-81 UNLV 63-66 L
2-12-82 at UNLV 50-52 L
1-22-98 at UNLV 63-76 L
2-21-98 UNLV 76-84 L
1-10-00 at UNLV 77-75 W
2-19-00 UNLV 83-82 W
3-11-00 at UNLV 56-79 L **MWC Tournament Championship Game
1-15-01 UNLV 91-63 W
2-10-01 at UNLV 56-68 L
LAST YEAR vs. UNLV
Cougars Run Past Rebels in Provo One Year Ago on ESPN
PROVO -- In a game that saw four different Cougars score in double figures, including a season-high 26 points from Trent Whiting, BYU enjoyed its biggest win ever over the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 91-63, in a late Monday night nationally televised game at the Marriott Center. Hot shooting combined with tough defense helped the Cougars to the win over last year's Mountain West Conference Champions. BYU shot over 50 percent from behind the three-point line for the second game in a row, going 6 for 11. BYU also shot 56 percent from the field and 85 percent from the free throw line. On defense, the Cougars held UNLV's top scorer, Kaspars Kambala, to two points, more than 16 below his season average. Dalron Johnson had 24 points for the Rebels and Sylvester Dotson added 12. "It was the best basketball we've played here in four years against a quality team," said BYU coach Steve Cleveland. "Tonight, Las Vegas did not play well, but I'd like to think we had a lot to do with that. We defended and executed well and I really like the flow in the last seven games. Our defense was the best since we've been here." In addition to Whiting's 26, Terrell Lyday scored 23, including 3 for 3 from three-point land and a couple of thrilling dunks. Mekeli Wesley and Eric Nielsen were the other Cougars in double figures, scoring 14 and 12, respectively. "Trent's play tonight was phenomenal," said Cleveland. "But everybody stepped up and it brought us a lot of confidence. We had the energy tonight and we also had the luxury of playing at home. We also had the luxury of having a great crowd, that was really important." BYU set the tone early, starting the game on a 10-0 run, before the Runnin' Rebels came back and scored five in a row. But, that was as close as UNLV would get as the Cougars came back and to score 45 first-half points and go up by 19 points at the break.
UNLV Downs BYU at the Thomas & Mack
LAS -- Still seeking its first conference road victory, BYU was defeated by UNLV Saturday afternoon, 68-56, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Cougars led throughout most of the first 30 minutes but could not hold off the home team as the Rebels evened the season series. BYU led by 16 points, 30-14, at the 9:04 mark of the first half but managed only one field goal and three total points over the nine minutes to take a 33-31 advantage at the break. Mekeli Wesley led the Cougars with 12 points in the first half and added a bucket and an assist in the first three minutes of the second half to help BYU take a nine-point lead at 40-31. But the Cougars went cold from the floor and suffered foul trouble, which helped the Rebels gain the momentum. After shooting 41 percent in the first half, BYU made only 27 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes, including 1-7 from three-point range. Wesley picked up his fourth foul with 12 minutes remaining with the Cougars still clinging to a 42-39 lead. Wesley, Eric Nielsen and Nate Knight all had four fouls before the second half was eight minutes old. "I thought we had good intensity and that we had good execution," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "They did a much better job defensively but we missed several layups and 2-footers. Lafonte Johnson is a good shooter. He stepped up and had a big night. He's the reason they won the ball game." UNLV got a career night from reserve guard Lafonte Johnson, who equaled Trevor Diggs with a team-high 17 points on 5-8 shooting, including three treys. Rebel center Kaspars Kambala added a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while Dalron Johnson contributed 10 points and six boards. Wesley led BYU with 17 points and six rebounds. Terrell Lyday also pulled down six boards while adding 14 points. Much of Lyday's success came from the line where he was a perfect 7-7. Lyday and Trent Whiting continued to have trouble finding the mark from the field on the road as Lyday went 3-12 while Whiting was only 2-11. Dropping its third straight road game, BYU fell to 16-7 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference while UNLV improved to 14-9 and 5-3.
UNLV Quick Facts:
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Nickname: Runnin' Rebels
Colors: Scarlet and Gray
Home Arena: Thomas and Mack Center
Conference: Mountain West
Head Coach: Charlie Spoonhour
Alma Mater: University of the Ozarks (1961)
Best time to call: 11 a.m. -- 12 p.m. Pacific/weekdays
Office Phone: (702) 895-3295
Overall Record (Years): 327-177 , 17th year
Record at School (Years): 8-6, 1st year
Assistant Coaches: Deane Martin, Jay Spoonhour, Derek Thomas
Overall Record: 16/13
Conf. Record/Finish: 7-7/4th
Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: NA
Letterman Returning/Lost: 9/6
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Returning Starters (last year's stats)
Dalron Johnson, 6-9, 205, Jr., F (12.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
Vince Booker, 6-1, 175, Sr., G (3.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
Basketball Contact: Andy Grossman
Office: (702) 895-3995
Home: (702) 260-7369
Fax: (702) 895-0989
Press Row: (702) 895-4600
Athletics Web Site
Jensen Lifts Cougars to Victory over SDSU in MWC Opener Saturday
PROVO -- The BYU men's basketball team began its conference season with a solid 75-64 win over the San Diego State University Aztecs Saturday night in front of an energized crowd at the Marriott Center in Provo. "The first thing that comes to mind is that tonight's game is the way a conference game is and this was a really, really good team that we played," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "They are talented, they are well coached and they are very difficult to guard." The Cougars (11-3, 1-0) trailed 4-0 early on but took the lead 5-4 at the 16:45 mark of the first half and never trailed again. San Diego (10-5, 0-1) stuck close to BYU, however, trailing only 63-59 with 3:18 remaining in the game. "We still had chances and I think we still have to do a better job -- all of us," said SDSU head coach Steve Fisher. "Against a good team like BYU, if you don't play close to your best, you're not going to win." The Cougars secured the win with solid ball handling and 9-of-11 shooting from the free throw line in the last three minutes. "These are tough games and I just can't say enough about how important the last four or five minutes of ball possession meant to us," said Cleveland. BYU got a lift from the 19,411 fans who crowded into the Marriott Center, the largest crowd to attend a game since Jan. 15, 2000, when 22,580 fans jammed together to see the Cougars play Utah. "We got great energy from the crowd and we got a great effort from our iron men down the stretch," Cleveland said. The Cougars were sparked by the solid play of center Jared Jensen, who contributed a career-high 17 points and played solid defense against the talented Aztecs. "They have a lot of players that can hurt you, and Jared's effort tonight was probably the difference maker in the game," coach Cleveland said. Coach Fisher added, "At halftime we talked about the 'X' factor being Jensen. You can't let him get double figures in the first half." The Cougars' scoring was balanced, headed by BYU guard Travis Hansen's 19 points. Mark Bigelow added 13 points and extended his streak of continuous games with a three pointer to 21, tying former Cougar Terrell Lyday's record set at the start of the 1999-2000 season. Eric Nielsen poured in 11 points while point guard Matt Montague led the team with eight rebounds and six assists. Montague also scored eight points, three of those coming from a stunning NBA-distance three pointer to beat the shot clock with 5:26 to play in the first half. Montague, not usually known for his long-range shooting, has made a three-pointer in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. He made a three-pointer two games in a row twice during his freshman year. The first half saw BYU consistently maintain a 10-point lead as the two teams battled back and forth throughout. The Cougars had a seven-point edge at halftime, a lead they pushed to 54-37 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Aztecs battled back with scrappy play and solid rebounding, grabbing a total of 44 rebounds against BYU's 28. Four consecutive points by Aztec forward Randy Holcomb, who led all scorers with 21 points, brought the Aztecs within four with 3:18 remaining, but they would not get any closer. The win extends BYU's home victory streak to 29 games, the nation's second-longest winning streak behind Detroit's 37 straight home wins.
More BYU vs. the Aztecs
The win Saturday gives BYU an eight-game winning streak against the Aztecs, stretching back to an 89-86 loss in the Marriott Center on Dec. 31, 1996. Coach Steve Cleveland is undefeated against San Diego State (8-0), making the Aztecs the only conference team yet to beat a Cleveland-coached Cougar squad. BYU leads the overall series 35-13 and leads the series 21-2 in Provo. BYU never trailed in the game after taking a 5-4 lead at the 16:45 mark in the first half.
Biggest Crowd in Two Years
Attendance Saturday was 19,411, the largest Marriott Center crowd since Jan. 15, 2000 when 22,580 showed up to see BYU play Utah. The largest crowd last season was 19,098, also against Utah.
BYU held San Diego State to 37 percent shooting. The Cougars have held eight opponents this year below 40 percent shooting while only two teams have shot better than 45 percent against BYU (Arizona State, .462; Utah State, .509).
BYU shot 45 percent against San Diego State. BYU has shot 45 percent or better in 11 of 14 games but had not reached the percentage in its prior two games vs. San Francisco and at Pepperdine.
Cleveland in Conference Openers
BYU won its conference opener for the third straight season. BYU is 4-1 in conference openers under Steve Cleveland. BYU won also defeated San Diego State at home to open the MWC season last year and won at UNLV in 1999-2000. In Cleveland's first year BYU opened on the road at Tulsa with a win. The lone opening loss in the last five years was at Utah in 1998-99. Cleveland's teams have been 1-1 after the first two conference games every year but last year when BYU defeated UNLV to start league play at 2-0.
Hansen Named MWC Player of the Week on Jan. 7
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). 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.
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).
For the Record
Mark Bigelow will set a BYU record for consecutive games with a made three-pointer if he connects from long range Tuesday vs. UNLV. He is currently tied with Terrell Lyday at 21 straight games. Bigelow has made a three in all 14 games this year and the last seven of his freshman year in 1998-99. Lyday holds the single-season mark, making a three in the first 21 games of the 1999-2000 season. Bigelow has made a three in 36 of the 40 games he has played. BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson has the third longest overall three-point streak and second longest single-season streak, stringing 16 straight games together in 1990. He made a three in 29 of 30 games that year, also establishing a streak of 13 games, with his only missed game coming against Wyoming.
BYU is coming off a win vs. SDSU after having its eight-game winning streak halted at Pepperdine. 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 most recent streak was extended to eight games. BYU suffered back-to-back losses this year at UC Santa Barbara and at Utah State.
In addition to Mark Bigelow's 21 straight games with a trey, Daniel Bobik has made 20 consecutive free throws dating to his last miss vs. Arizona State. The BYU record is 32 set by Michael Smith. Travis Hansen has the longest streak of the season, reaching 23 straight makes from the line until missing on his fourth attempt Saturday vs. SDSU.
Home Winning Streak
BYU has a 29-game home court winning streak. The streak, which is a school record topping the 24 straight won between March 1994 and Jan. 1996, is the second-longest current streak in the nation behind Detriot's 37 straight wins at home. BYU is 9-0 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.
Cougars Tough on Nonconference Foes
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.
Hitting the Glass
BYU was out boarded for only the second time this year vs. SDSU Saturday as the Aztecs pulled down 44 rebounds to BYU's 28. The 28 boards was BYU's second-lowest total of the year. BYU's low was 24 at Utah State, when BYU was out boarded 35-24. The Cougars and UCSB each had 35 rebounds. Otherwise, BYU has had the edge in 11 of 14 games, earning a 10-1 record in those games. Overall, BYU averages 36.1 rebounds while its opponents grab on average 31.6. 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. BYU has been getting a good effort on the boards from the guard line. Shooting guard Travis Hansen leads the team (7.3) and point guard Matt Montague is third at 4.6 rebounds per game. Hansen has had highs of 17 and 15 rebounds. Montague had a team-leading eight rebounds vs. SDSU and has grabbed six or more rebounds in five of the last six games.
First Half Success
BYU has got out of the gates well in every game this year. BYU has led at the half in 13 of 14 games this season, trailing only Stanford (41-40). BYU is outscoring its opponents in the first half 503-382 (35.9 -- 27.3). The Cougars have scored more points in the second half but also yield more points. BYU has outscored its opponents 532-478 in the second half (38.0 - 34.1). BYU has been outscored 28-16 (14.0 - 8.0) in two overtime periods this year.
BYU is shooting 50 percent in its 10 victories and 42 percent in its three losses. The Cougars are shooting .506 at home and .434 on the road. BYU shot 45 percent vs. SDSU, the 11th time this year BYU has shot at least 45 percent. BYU has shot 50 percent or better three times this year and is making 47.8 percent from the floor overall.
From Three-Point Range
BYU is shooting 40 percent from three-point range. 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 made 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 34 threes (.436) and has made a three in all 14 games this year and 21 straight dating back to his freshman season. Daniel Bobik (.388) and Travis Hansen(.442) have each made 19 threes.
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 having a 30-point performance at Pepperdine. Bigelow has reached double figures in 13 of 14 games and Hansen in 11 of 14. Bigelow scores 17.4 ppg and Hansen 15.9 ppg on the year.
Other Scoring Options
The Cougars have five players scoring at least 8.5 points per game. After leaders Mark Bigelow (17.4) and Travis Hansen (15.9), senior Eric Nielsen averages 10.4 ppg and has scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford. Freshman center Jared Jensen is averaging 9.0 ppg and is coming off a career-high 17 points vs. SDSU. Reserve guard Daniel Bobik is adding 8.5 ppg off the bench and has twice scored highs of 17 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, including a season-high 12 points at Pepperdine (he had 11 points at San Diego and vs. USF).
Numbers at the Line
BYU is shooting 78.9 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 three are making 80 percent or better. Daniel Bobik makes a team-leading 92.9 percent (No. 1 among MWC players), followed by Mark Bigelow (.877), Jared Jensen (.800), Travis Hansen (.795), Matt Montague (.760), Dan Howard (.750), and Eric Nielsen (.735) All players averaging double-digit minutes shoot better than 73 percent.
In the Polls
BYU did not receive votes in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The AP poll is released Monday. Last week BYU receved two votes in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Polls. BYU was 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 Fared Well in Nonconference
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.
Winning Ways Have Changed
When BYU's scoring leader Mark Bigelow last played for the Cougars prior to his mission in 1998-99, the Cougars suffered several close defeats on the way to a 12-16 record. With BYU off to an 11-3 record this year, Bigelow can help the Cougars equal the number of victories achieved his freshman year with a win Tuesday vs. UNLV. During Bigelow's mission, BYU earned back-to-back 20-plus win seasons.
Tough MWC Play Ahead
BYU's seven Mountain West opponents have combined (as of Jan. 13) to win 65 percent of their games so far this year. Including the Cougars, five of the eight teams have already won 10 or more games and only Air Force has a losing record at 6-8. 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 13. Six have a losing record. Overall, BYU's opponents have combined to win 58 percent of their games with the nonconference teams having won 54 percent and MWC teams 65 percent.
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." A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Araujo will enter BYU as a junior. He will enroll next fall.
BYU vs. Postseason Teams/Conference Champs
On this year's schedule, BYU plays seven conference champions, including Pac-10 champion Stanford, and 12 games against teams who qualified for postseason play last year. In addition to Stanford, last year's champions included Creighton of the Missouri Valley Conference, Utah State of the Big West, Cal State Northridge of the Big Sky (playing in Big West this year), Southern Utah of the Mid-Continent Conference and fellow co-champions Utah and Wyoming of the Mountain West Conference. Pepperdine and New Mexico also advanced to post-season play in the NIT tournament. So far this year, BYU is 4-1 vs. the conference title holders with Utah and Wyoming still on the schedule. BYU is 4-2 against teams that earned postseason berths last year with losses at Utah State and Pepperdine and wins over Creighton, Stanford, CS Northridge, and Southern Utah.
All BYU games will be carried live on the Cougar Sports Radio Network, originating from KSL Newsradio 1160 AM in Salt Lake City. BYU is featured six times this season in the Mountain West television package with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Regional Television (ESPN+Plus) and ABC. The Cougars play twice on ESPN and four times on ESPN+Plus. An additional 12 BYU games are part of the SportsWest Productions' package and KBYU will produce two games for taped-delay broadcast. In all 21-of-27 regular season games are slated for television broadcast. BYU will also appear on Fox Sports West 2 against Pepperdine.
BYU is currently ranked 35th 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. 13). 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. 13), BYU is the second-rated MWC team with a 41 RPI. The Mountain West Conference is rated 7th among the 32 conferences (and five independents).
New Mexico 44
San Diego State 47
Colorado State 114
Air Force 220
BYU in MWC Statistics (as of Jan. 13)
Â• BYU leads all MWC teams this year in scoring margin, (+11.6), free throw shooting (.789), and three-point percentage defense (.283).
Â• The Cougars rate second three-point shooting (.402), defensive rebounds (27.21), field goal percentage defense (.392) and assist/turnover ratio (1.08). BYU is third in scoring defense (63.4), field goal percentage (.478), and rebounding defense (31.6).
Â• Matt Montague leads all MWC players in assists (7.14) and assist/turnover ratio (2.94). He is tied for fouth in steals (1.71), 10th in defensive rebounds (4.00), 14th in free throw percentage (.760) and 17th in total rebounds average (4.6).
Â• Mark Bigelow is third in scoring (17.4), leads in free throw percentage (.877), is fourth in three-point field goals made per game (2.43) and eighth in three-point percentage (.436).
Â• Travis Hansen ranks second in defensive rebounds average (5.93), tied for sixth in total rebounds average (7.3), sixth in three-point percentage (.442), seventh in scoring (15.9), 11th in free throw percentage (.795), and 15th in field goal percentage (.463).
Â• Eric Nielsen is sixth in field goal percentage (.573) and 13th in rebounding (5.1).
Â• Daniel Bobik leads all MWC players in free throw percentage (.929) but doesn't shoot enough to qualify for the latest rankings (min. two made free throws per game played).
Â• Jared Jensen is second in field goal percentage (.634), and is 10th in free throw percentage (.800).
BYU in National Statistics (as of Jan. 13)
Â• BYU is tied for third in the nation in free throw shooting percentage (78.9 -- Tulsa and Morehead St. No. 1 at 79.9, Loyola tied with BYU). BYU is 17th three-point field goal percentage (.402). BYU is 26th in field goal percentage (.478).
Â• Senior point guard Matt Montague is fourth nationally in assists per game (7.1) and Daniel Bobik is tied for 12th in free throw percentage (.929). Jensen would rate 11th in field goal percentage (.634) but isn't listed because he doesn't have enough shots.
MATT MONTAGUE / 6-0 Â• 190 Â• senior Â• point guard
Montague provides leadership at the point having started 71 times and played in all 106 games in his fourth year. Last year he started 12 games, primarily before Trent Whiting joined the team in December. He has led the team in assists during each of his three seasons. Montague had a team-leading eight rebounds vs. SDSU. The point guard, who is third on the team in rebounding, has grabbed six or more rebounds in five of the last six games. Montague had a team-best three steals and hit a three pointer for a career-best third straight game, including an NBA-length three to beat the shot clock. He hit three pointers in two consecutive games twice during his freshman year. Montague has 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 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 has reached double-digit assists three times this year. He averages a MWC-best 7.1 assists per game on the year and is fourth 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
After playing a supporting role in his first season at BYU last year, Hansen is playing a more significant role and has the talent to become an all-conference player. Hansen led BYU with 19 points in its MWC-opening win over San Diego State. He went 5-10 from the floor, including 3-4 on threes, and 6-9 from the free throw line. His three treys equaled his career high and his 3-4 three-point effort set a new personal best in three-point percentage. He added two assists, two rebounds, one block and one steal while contributing in all statistical areas. Hansen has led BYU in scoring in the last two games and five times overall this year. He has reached double-digit points in 11 of 14 games. He is BYU's second-leading scorer with a 15.9 average. He grabs a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game. Hansen had his consecutive free throws-made streak end at 23 on Saturday, going 6-9 from the line. It is the longest BYU streak this year. Hansen averaged a double-doublein BYU's final two nonconference games (19.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg). The Cougar guard had his team-leading third double-double of the year vs. Pepperdine 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. 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. He played a key defensive role against first-team All-American Casey Jacobsen of Stanford.
MARK BIGELOW / 6-7 Â• 190 Â• sophomore Â• guard/forward
Bigelow could be one of the top performers in the Mountain West if he returns 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 is still is suffering in terms of stamina and having his legs. Bigelow made a three-pointer Saturday to tie a BYU record with 21 consecutive games with a made trey. Bigelow has made a three in all 14 games this year and the last seven of his freshman year in 1998-99. He shares the record with Terrell Lyday, who holds the single-season mark (21). Biglew has reached double figures in 13 straight games and has scored at least 13 points in each of those games. He scored a team-high 15 points vs. San Francisco and added 14 at Pepperdine. He has been BYU's most consistent scorer. He leads BYU in scoring at 17.4 ppg. He has scored 20 or more points four times, including a BYU season-high 31 vs. ASU. Since shooting 50 percent from the floor and totaling 27 and 20 points against CS Northridge and Southern Utah, Bigelow has not been getting his shots to fall as regularly in the last three games. He is 12-36 (.333) in the last three games, including 3-14(.214) on threes. He has made two or more threes in nine games this year, including a career-equaling 5 treys vs. Southern Utah.
ERIC NIELSEN / 6-9 Â• 215 Â• senior Â• forward
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 (5.1 rpg). He has scored in double figures in the last three straight games and seven times overall this year. He had 11 points vs. SDSU and had 10 points at Pepperdine. 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 7.4 shots per game. He ranks third all-time at BYU in career field goal percentage and is making 57.3 percent of his shots so far this year.
JARED JENSEN / 6-9 Â• 245 Â• freshman Â• center
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. 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. Jensen rebounded from his only scoreless outing of the year against Pepperdine by scoring a career-best 17 points vs SDSU. He has scored in double figures in six of the last eight games and seven times overall this year. He is averaging 10.9 ppg over the last eight games. In his first six games as a collegian, he reached double-digit points once and averaged 6.5 ppg. He is fourth on the team overall at 9.0 ppg. He is shooting a team-best 63.4 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 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
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 has good range and is a crafty passer with good court awareness.He and Mark Bigelow were the first recruits to sign with BYU under Steve Cleveland. Bobik plays the sixth-man role this year. He did not score for the first time this year vs. SDSU. 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 and has made 20 straight free throws. He has not had an attempt in the last four 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 fifth 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
Jepsen redshirted last season after returning from an LDS Church mission. He had suffered a severe break of his leg on his mission. He is a key reserve in the post as a rebounder and defender who can run the floor well. 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. Jepsen tied his career high in scoring with seven points and field goals made (3), coming off the bench to give the Cougars a big lift in 19 minutes vs. SDSU. His two dunks in the first half helped give BYU momentum, taking a lead it never lost throughout the entire second half. His 3-4 shooting night was also a career-best percentage. Jepsen has appeared in all 14 games off the bench, but had not played more than five minutes in four of the five games prior to the MWC opener vs. SDSU. He played only one minute, a season low, in the final two non-league games vs. USF and Pepperdine. He played 11 minutes with three boards vs. Southern Utah. He played a season-high 22 minutes at Utah State. He had 5 points vs. Fort Lewis. His rebound high is 6 vs. Arizona State.
JESSE PINEGAR / 6-9 Â• 220 Â• redshirt freshman Â• forward
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. A 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 is a mobile, athletic player, who can play several positions and has excellent range beyond the three-point line. 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. 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.
DAN HOWARD / 7-0 Â• 225 Â• sophomore Â• center
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. 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. 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
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 extended minutes. Carlisle has played in nine games, including the last eight straight. He had a season-high four rebounds and one assist in only eight minutes vs. SDSU. He was BYU's second-leading rebounder in the game. 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 games. He scored a season-high 6 points in seven minutes vs. Fort Lewis.
JACOB CHRISMAN / 6-8 Â• 225 Â• sophomore Â• forward
A two-sport athlete, Chrisman is also is a pitcher on the BYU baseball team. He announced last spring that he will redshirt basketball this year to play a full season of baseball. He started practicing with the basketball team in November after the completion of fall baseball workouts. He would have been a significant contributor if he decided to play basketball. He is extremely mobile and a strong rebounder. He is an athletic low post player who can score in multiple ways. He has developed a nice perimeter game. A hard worker, he has a knack for the game and finds a way to make plays both on offense and defense . A slasher-type player who has a nice shooting touch, he could play both the three and four positions for the Cougars. He is likely to redshirt the basketball season unless a significant injury is sustained by a BYU post player.
JIMMY BALDERSON / 6-6 Â• 200 Â• freshman Â• guard
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 11 games, but appeared only briefly in his last three outings. He hit the game-tying three-pointer from the left corner to force overtime at Pepperdine in his only minute of action. He has reached double figures twice, scoring 11 points in 13 minutes vs. Southern Utah 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.
SHAWN OPUNUI / 5-11 Â• 170 Â• freshman Â• point guard
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. 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
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. 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 (78-60 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.