Game 16 - BYU Hosts Wyoming Monday

PROVO, Utah -- BYU (11-4, 1-1) hosts Wyoming (8-7, 1-1) Monday at 8:30 p.m. (MST) in the Marriott Center. The game is a SportsWest Productions telecast on KSL-TV, channel 5, in Salt Lake City, and is available pay-per-view nationally via ESPN Full Court. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160, beginning with a one-hour pregame show. KSL's Greg Wrubell will call the play-by-play action with Mark Durrant providing analysis. Live audio and stats are available by selecting the basketball schedule page of the official BYU athletics website, byucougars.com. Live audio is also available on KSL.com, via BYU Radio on the Dish Network and at byuradio.org.

UP NEXT

BYU travels to face Air Force Saturday at 4 p.m. (MST). The game will be televised on KSL-5 (SportsWest).

GAME #16 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (11-4, 1-1 MWC) vs. WYOMING COWBOYS (8-7, 1-1 MWC)

MONDAY, JAN. 19, 2004

MARRIOTT CENTER (22,700)

PROVO, UTAH

8:37 p.m. (MST)

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (119-82 in seventh year; same overall)

Wyoming, Steve McClain (108-59 in sixth year; same overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 89-67 Last year: BYU swept the season series for the first time since 1996

TV:

SportsWest Productions (KSL-TV 5 in Salt Lake City; KTWO in Wyoming; ESPN Full Court)

Air Time: 8:30 p.m. (MST)

Play-by-Play: Tom Kirkland

Game Analyst: Craig Hislop

Radio:

KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)

Pregame Air Time: 7:30 p.m. (MST)

Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell

Game Analyst: Mark Durrant

Web:

Live audio and stats links are available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2003-04 schedule); live audio also available on KSL.com, via BYU Radio on Dish Network and at byuradio.org.

COUGAR CAPSULE

The Cougars (11-4) finished nonconference play with a 10-3 record including the Cable Car Classic title and wins over No. 25 Oklahoma State and the Pac-10's USC. The preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference, BYU is 1-1 in MWC play. BYU returns four starters from last year's 23-9 co-championship team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Four-year starter Mark Bigelow and fellow senior Rafael Araujo were both named to the Preseason All-MWC Team. Senior guard Kevin Woodberry and junior forward Jared Jensen also were starters last season for BYU coach Steve Cleveland. Key newcomers include junior transfer Mike Hall and freshmen Mike Rose and Garner Meads. Araujo is averaging 19.9 points and 10.7 rebounds to lead BYU this year. Bigelow adds 12.9 points and 3.8 rebounds while Hall contributes 12.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. First-year starter Luiz Lemes leads the team in assists (4.9). As a team, the Cougars shoot .497 from the floor, including .374 on threes, and .725 from the line while scoring 75.9 points per game. BYU allows 63.9 points while the opposition has shot .436 from the field and .322 from behind the arc. BYU has an average rebounding advantage of 6.8.

WYOMING COWBOYS

Wyoming returns eight lettermen and three starters from last years 21-11 team that finished third in the Mountain West Conference with an 8-6 record and advanced to the second round of the NIT. This year the Cowboys are off to an 8-7 start overall and 1-1 record in MWC play. The Cowboys are coming off a loss at Utah (60-49) Saturday after defeating New Mexico (82-77) at home to open its league schedule. The Cowboys played one common nonconference opponent with BYU, also losing to the Cal Bears in Berkeley. While BYU lost by a single point, Wyoming fell 80-55 at Cal. Wyoming's non-league wins include victories over Norfolk State (84-42), Middle Tennessee State (84-63), Washington (92-76), Montana State (63-55), Tennessee State (109-56), Winthrop (79-49), and Dayton (61-59). The Cowboys are 7-2 at home, 0-5 away and 1-0 on a neutral floor. The Cowboys have been the best road team in Mountain West games over the past three seasons. They were 4-3 on the road last year. Prior to its loss at Utah Saturday in its first league road game of this season, the Cowboys had a 13-8 (.619) road mark over the last three years against MWC teams. Wyoming is led by junior guard Jay Straight (5-11, 178), who averages 14.1 points and adds 3.6 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists. Senior forward Mory Correa (6-9, 222) adds 10.2 points and a team-best 6.1 boards, while senior guard David Adams (6-2, 185) chips in 10 points and 4.3 rebounds. Orem native and Mountain View High School product Tim Henry (6-5, 185) has started in all but one game as a sophomore transfer from Salt Lake Community College. He adds 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds from the wing. Senior forward Joe Ries (6-8, 225) scores 7.6 points and grabs 4.8 rebounds. He did not start vs. Utah, ending 46 consecutive starts. Junior center Alex Dunn (7-0, 240) started against the Utes and is team's fourth-leading scorer at 7.9 points and third-leading rebounder at 4.7 boards per game. As a team, the Cowboys shoot .453 from the floor, .357 on threes, and .656 from the line while scoring 71.5 points per game. Wyoming opponents have averaged 64.6 points on .402 shooting, including .306 from behind the arc. The Cowboys have a 3.8 advantage per game on the glass.

WYOMING's LAST OUTING -- Cowboys Suffer First Conference Loss, Falling at Utah 60-49

Utah pulled out a close contest making their last eight straight free throws to down Wyoming 60-49 Saturday in Salt Lake City. Andrew Bogut scored a season-high 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the 14-3 Utes to their eight straight victory. Utah is now 2-0 in Mountain West play. Bogut blocked five shots and hit 8-of-13 from the floor, while Nick Jacobson scored 17 points, including 13 in the final 13:16. For Wyoming, Mory Correa scored 14 points and Jay Straight added 11 as the Cowboys suffered their first league loss of the year but fifth straight road defeat this season. Wyoming is 8-7 overall and 1-1 in MWC action with the loss. The Utes didn't lead until the second half, but then a pair 3-pointers by Jacobson - one of which he converted into a four-point play after being fouled on the attempt gave them to a 46-35 advantage with 10:52 to play. Correa proved effective inside where he scored seven points in an 11-1 run. Correa scored and was fouled with 4:47 remaining to close the gap to 47-46, but he missed the free throw and then missed the front end of a one-and-one on the next possession. Utah made free throws down late to push their final advantage to double digits. Utah outrebounded Wyoming 39-28. Joe Ries, who had started 46 consecutive games, did not start for Wyoming and didn't score in seven minutes of play.

WYOMING'S PROJECTED STARTERS (based on last game)

POS. # NAME HT. WT. YR. PPG RPG

F 31 Mory Correa 6-9 222 Sr. 10.2 6.1

C 13 Alex Dunn 7-0 240 Jr. 7.9 4.7

G 3 Jay Straight 5-11 178 Jr. 14.1 3.6

G 5 Tim Henry 6-5 185 So. 6.6 2.8

G 23 David Adams 6-2 185 Sr. 10.0 4.3

SERIES NOTES

This will be the 157th meeting between the two schools. BYU leads the series 89-67, including a 60-13 advantage in Provo. BYU has won five straight in Provo since Steve Cleveland took over as head coach. Wyoming's last win in the Marriott Center was on Feb. 8, 1997 (72-60) during the Cougars' 1-25 season. The Cougars swept the season series last year for the first time since 1996. BYU has won six of nine meetings between the two schools since the formation of the Mountain West Conference. BYU has won five of the last six overall, including its win in Laramie last season. That victory ended five straight losses to the Cowboys at Arena-Auditorium. BYU's prior win in Laramie was an 81-71 triumph on Feb. 10, 1996. The two teams split the season series with home wins in 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1998. They did not meet in 1999. Wyoming swept the series in 1997 during BYU's 1-25 season to end four straight BYU wins in 1995 and 1996. After Utah (234 games) and Utah State (220 games), BYU has faced Wyoming the third-most times in its history. Steve Cleveland is 7-4 vs. Wyoming.

BYU vs. WYOMING SERIES BREAKDOWN

Overall Series Record: BYU leads 89-67

BYU Record in Provo: 60-13

BYU Record in Laramie: 26-52

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 3-2

BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 7-4

BYU Record in Overtime Games: 1-3* (all in Laramie)

*0-1 in 2OT games (1981 in Laramie, 84-86)

Last OT Game: 1981, lost in Laramie, 84-86 (2OT)

Longest BYU Win Streak: 12 (1972-77)

Longest Wyoming Win Streak: 9 (1942-46)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 35, 78-43 in 1966

Largest Wyoming Margin of Victory: 32, 63-31 in 1931

Most Points Scored by BYU: 102 in 1965

Most Points Scored by Wyoming: 107 in 1966

LAST YEAR VS. WYOMING

AT BYU -- HANSEN LED COUGARS TO SHARE OF LEAGUE LEAD

PROVO -- BYU (21-7, 10-3) took another step towards the Mountain West Conference regular season title and the NCAA Tournament with a 69-50 win over the Wyoming Cowboys (20-8, 8-5) Thursday night at the Marriott Center. BYU finished the game with three players in double figures, including senior Travis Hansen's game high 23 points in 34 minutes of play. Hansen also pulled down five rebounds, and had two blocked shots. Hansen led the Cougars with three three-pointers on the night. Hansen was tough all night on defense being assigned to defend Wyoming's leading scorer Donta Richardson, who came in averaging just over 18 points a game. Hansen held Richardson to only nine on the night. Juniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively, to lift the Cougars past the Cowboys. Araujo came within one rebound of a double-double, grabbing nine boards in 29 minutes of play. Araujo and Hansen got the Cougars off to a big start in the first half scoring a combined 19 of the Cougars' 36 points. After starting out the game by trading baskets, BYU went on an early 11-2 run to go up 16-6 with 12:30 left to go in the half. On defense, Araujo forced Wyoming's center, Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, to fight for all eight of his first-half points and Hansen held Richardson to only four points at the break. With 3:27 remaining Hansen blocked a layup attempt by Wyoming's guard Chris McMillan that pinned the ball between the rim and the backboard. The block brought the Marriott Center to its feet and the 15,383 in attendance stayed there on the ensuing play as Bigelow scored off an Araujo behind-the-back pass. With only 10.7 seconds left in the half and the Cowboys trying to score, Wyoming's David Rottinghaus threw the ball out of bounds. Cougar guard Kevin Woodberry then drove the length of the floor to score a layup and take the Cougars into the lockerroom on top 36-25. In the second half it was all Hansen as he came out shooting, scoring eight of the team's first 10 points. After forward Jared Jensen connected on a pair of free throws with 13:33 left in the game, the Cougars increased their lead as they went on a 16-2 run led by Jensen who had six points in the stretched. The Cougars went on to claim the victory with a 69-50 final and tied with Utah in the overall standings for the Mountain West Conference regular season title.

WHAT BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME IN PROVO LAST YEAR ...

"We were able to play well on defense and we took care of the ball tonight. I was a little surprised at the spread of the points, but there was nothing easy about beating this team. I thought that it would be a possession game that would go down to the last five minutes. Wyoming has some big guys inside that are really tough to guard."

WHAT WYOMING COACH STEVE MCCLAIN HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME IN PROVO LAST YEAR ...

"BYU is one of the few teams that can match up with Uche when they have Araujo in there. I give credit to BYU's defense, their big guys do a great job of helping each other."

AT WYOMING -- COUGAR EARNED VICTORY IN LARAMIE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1996

LARAMIE -- BYU coach Steve Cleveland got his first win in Laramie Saturday as the Cougars (16-5, 5-1) defeated the Wyoming Cowboys (16-5, 4-2) 74-66 in a battle for first place in the Mountain West Conference. Utah (5-1) defeated Colorado State (3-3) in Fort Collins later Saturday night to share the conference lead with the Cougars.The third largest crowd to ever assemble in Arena-Auditorium, 15,418, saw the Cougars break a five-game losing streak in Laramie dating back to 1996. Last season the Cougars lost in part due to the team's poor rebounding, but Saturday the Cougars out rebounded the Cowboys 37-21. Three players who came up big were juniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo and senior Travis Hansen. Hansen finished the game with 15 points including two crucial free throws in the final minute, as did Bigelow, who turned in another impressive game with a season-high 23 points that led all scores. Araujo chipped in 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Entering the game ranked fifth nationally in three-point percentage, BYU had another nice game from behind the arc, shooting an 42.9 percent, and was a solid 45.2 percent overall from the field. Junior Kevin Woodberry started at point guard for the Cougars and finished with five steals, the first time a Cougar has had five thefts since Matt Montague did more than a year ago against San Francisco. At halftime the Cougars led the Cowboys by seven at 35-28, and had managed to out rebound Wyoming 21-15. BYU took an early 10-4 lead. BYU trailed once, at 12-11, and the Cowboys came close to taking the lead again when Wyoming guard David Adams connected on a three-point shot and was fouled by Bigelow. After the foul shot the Cowboys had tied the game at 16-16. The Cougars came roaring back and pushed their lead up to 10 at 29-19, the team's largest lead of the half with 5:23 left in the half thanks to a Bigelow three-pointer. BYU led by seven at the half. In the second half the Cougars came out strong and extended their lead to 41-28, but Araujo picked up his fourth foul in the first two minutes of the second half and sat for the next nine minutes. The Cowboys and the Cougars battled back and forth throughout the half. With Araujo out, Wyoming took the ball into the paint again and again. Jared Jensen picked up his fifth foul with 12:20 remaining with the Cougars still up by 10 at 52-42. Jake Shoff and Bart Jepsen took over the job of defending the lane until Araujo returned to the game with just over eight minutes left to play in the game. Wyoming's Uche Nsonwu-Amadi led a Cowboy comeback after being down 62-52 and brought the Cowboys to within five. With just over two minutes left in the game the momentum seemed to have shifted to the Cowboys after finally getting the game to within one possession at 66-63. But clutch foul shooting from Bigelow and Hansen as well as two steals, including a Woodberry theft, kept the Cougars on top.

WHAT BYU HEAD COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY IN LARAMIE LAST YEAR ...

"Last year was a competitive game and the year before we were up 16 or 17 and couldn't finish it off. Tonight we were up and as things started slipping away one guy after another came up big for the team. I told Travis and Mark that we aren't going to win anywhere in this leagues unless they play well every night. (Travis) is driven and he wants to win. He is willing to give everything every night. Nobody can every question his effort for this team. "

BYU'S LAST OUTING -- COUGARS WIN BIG AGAINST CSU, 82-53

PROVO, Utah, (Jan. 17, 2004) -- Rafael Araujo scored 16 points and grabbed nine boards to lead BYU past Colorado State 82-53 Saturday evening at the Marriott Center. BYU used an 18-1 run to build a 19-point lead midway through the first half, and the Cougars didn't look back, extending their lead to 26 points at halftime, BYU's largest lead at the break this season. Coach Steve Cleveland said he was pleased his team came out and played well after the way they played in the last two games. "I didn't care if this was home or away. I wanted to play well," Cleveland said. "I thought we did that. We attacked defensively and got good shots. We played 30 minutes of good basketball, but it got sloppy in the end." The Cougars' run started when freshman Mike Rose was inserted into the game and subsequently hit a three-pointer. Rose would hit two more threes during the stretch, and Mike Hall would add another. "Mike Rose came in and hit some huge shots," Cleveland said. "That's how I plan to play him the rest of the year. He's played well in practice and earned the minutes." Those three-pointers opened up the middle for Araujo, allowing him to get the ball deep in the post and score easily over the Ram defenders. The Cougars didn't let up after halftime, outscoring CSU 18-6 while extending its lead to 31 three different times during the second half. After two poor shooting nights against North Carolina State and San Diego State where the Cougars hit only 40.4 percent of their shots, BYU hit 49.1 percent of its shots against the Rams, including 38.9 percent from three-point range. Besides Araujo, the Cougars had three other players hit double figures, including Luiz Lemes (12), Mark Bigelow (11) and Rose (10). Injuries compounded CSU's woes Saturday. CSU's all-conference center Matt Nelson (knee) saw only four minutes of action and starting guard Micheal Morris (hamstring) did not play due to injuries. With the victory, BYU improves its record to 11-4 and 1-1 in the Mountain West Conference.

BIG NUMBERS

BYU achieved its largest halftime lead of the season vs. CSU Saturday, taking a 26-point advantage to the break. The Cougars also equaled their largest first-half scoring output of the season with 49 points. The most points BYU has scored in a half this year is 51 points in the second half against Idaho State at the Cable Car Classic. The Cougars' 29-point victory over CSU, however, is not the largest margin of victory for the Cougars in Mountain West play. Last year BYU defeated Air Force in Provo by 32 points, 65-33. The last time the Cougars put together back-to-back 25-plus point MWC wins was in 2001 when the Cougars beat San Diego State by 29 (79-50) before downing UNLV by 28 (91-63). BYU's largest margin of victory this season overall was a 36-point win over Western Oregon.

CAREER HIGHS

Saturday against CSU, Jared Jensen tied his career-high 10 rebounds, and Mark Bigelow equaled his career-best 6 assists. Terry Nashif set a new personal best of 6 rebounds while Austin Ainge got his first extended playing time, logging 10 minutes and scoring a career-best 6 points while dishing out a high of 2 assists.

SEEING MORE TIME

After mostly late action in seven straight games prior to not playing at all at San Diego State, true freshman Mike Rose got off the bench early Saturday and sparked BYU's decisive first-half run. He logged 11 minutes in the first half, scoring 10 points, and got the crowd in a frenzy hitting 3-of-4 long-range bombs. He played a season-high 23 minutes for the night. It was his second game of more than 20 minutes (other was 22 minutes in season opener when he scored 26 points and hit a BYU record 8 threes) and his fifth with double-digit minutes. He is second among all MWC players in three-point percentage at .525 and has made a team-leading 21 triples, one more than senior Mark Bigelow. Rose has been instant offense. He has made his 21 threes while taking only 40 trey attempts and logging 9.8 minutes per game compared to Bigelow's 71 attempts in 30.1 minutes per game.

SHOFF SHOULD RETURN

Senior Jake Shoff didn't play Saturday against CSU due to illness. He has missed three games this year, with the prior two games being due to injury. A reserve forward/center, Shoff should be able to return to action Monday when BYU hosts Wyoming in the Marriott Center.

DETERMINED TO IMPROVE

Rafael Araujo was determined over the summer to improve his shooting, spending an hour each morning from 6-7 a.m. casting off shots at the Smith Fieldhouse. His improvement is evident in his shooting percentages this season. Last year he shot a solid .558 from the floor but this year he is making 62.4 percent of his attempts. He made three treys on .273 shooting last year from behind the arc while this year has already connected seven times on .389 shooting from long range. At the line, Araujo has already equaled the number of free throws he made all of last season, when he went 70-for-109 (.642). He has upped his success rate at the charity stripe this year nearly 10 percentage, having made 70-of-95 attempts (.737).

CLEVELAND NOW FIFTH ON BYU VICTORY LIST; THIRD IN MARRIOTT CENTER WINS

With BYU's seventh win this season, Cougar head coach Steve Cleveland moved into fifth on BYU's career coaching victories list. He moved past Ladell Andersen (114-71 record from 1983-89). Cleveland now has a 119-82 record in his seventh season in Provo. Legendary Cougar coach Stan Watts has the most wins in school history with 372 triumphs from 1949-72. Ott Romney (1927-35) and Roger Reid (1989-96) both achieved 152 victories and Frank Arnold (1975-83) is fourth with 137 wins. Cleveland currently has the third-most wins in the Marriott Center with a 78-18 record in the Cougars' home arena. Reid has the most Marriott Center wins with 92, followed by Arnold with 81. Andersen is fourth with 71.

CLEVELAND GETTING IT DONE (2003 MWC COACH OF THE YEAR)

BYU coach Steve Cleveland was named MWC Coach of the Year in 2003. At 23-9 last year, BYU achieved its fourth straight postseason tournament invitation and third 20-win season in the last four years. Only eight BYU teams have ever achieved more wins in a season than last year's team. The BYU record for wins is 28 (9 losses) in 1951 when the Cougars won the national title as NIT champs. The 2002-03 season was Cleveland's third 20-win season in the last four years, including a 24-9 record in 2001. The only BYU coaches to have more 20-win seasons are Stan Watts (7) and Roger Reid (6). Cleveland joins Frank Arnold and Ladell Andersen with three 20-win seasons.

ARAUJO RATES HIGH IN NATIONAL AND MWC STATISTICS

Senior center Rafael Araujo is sixth in the nation in rebounds (10.8), 16th in field goal percentage (.623) and 25th in scoring (20.4) in the latest release of NCAA statistics (Jan. 13). Among MWC players he is the top scorer and rebounder and leads in defensive rebounds. He is second in offensive rebounds and third in field goal percentage, tied for eighth in blocked shots and 13th in free throw percentage.

ARAUJO ACHIEVED DOUBLE-DOUBLE MARKS

Araujo has 10 double-doubles this year and 18 for his career. He tied an MWC record by posting five consecutive double-doubles starting with the UVSC game until his streak ended with his 23 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes against Weber State Saturday. He tied the Mountain West record held by former Wyoming Cowboy Uche Nsonwu-Amadi. Nsonwu-Amadi recorded five in a row from the last game of the 2001-02 season through his first four appearances in 2002-03. Araujo is the only MWC player to record five consecutive double-doubles in the same season. During his five-game double-double streak, Araujo averaged 26 points and 13.6 rebounds.

BIGELOW POISED TO PASS COSIC AS THE NO. 9 ALL-TIME SCORER AT BYU

Senior Mark Bigelow (1,505 points) needs seven points to pass former Cougar great Kresimir Cosic into ninth place on BYU's all-time scoring list. Cosic scored 1,512 points in only three season from 1971-73. Bigelow moved out of a tie with Jay Cheesman (1,408 points from 1974-77) in 10th place against Utah State on Dec. 23. He surpassed current BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson (1,388 points from 1985, 88-90) against USC on Dec. 13 after overtaking Roland Minson (1,375 from 1949-51) against Western Oregon on Dec. 10.

IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER

BYU is 7-0 at home this year and has won 12 straight overall in the Marriott Center. BYU has won 56 of its last 57 games at home and is 51-1 over in the past four seasons.

COUGAR FANS SHOWING SUPPORT

BYU is ahead of last year's attendance pace with an average crowd of 13,957 after seven home games. Last year BYU averaged the 17th largest crowd in the nation overall at 14,468. The NCAA announced that BYU achieved the nation's largest average increase over the prior season in 2001-2002 (during the middle of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City). BYU's 22,702 attendance vs. CSU in its last home game last year was the largest crowd since 1992 and the 21st largest crowd in school history.

RECORD AGAINST TOP TEAMS

BYU is 3-4 this year against teams that qualified for postseason last year (21-point win over Weber State at home; five-point win over No. 25 Oklahoma State on a neutral floor; 29-point win over CSU; two-point loss at Utah State; one-point loss at Cal, 27-point loss at North Carolina State, and four-point loss at SDSU).

BYU STARTING LINEUPS RECORD

Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Jensen, Araujo 4-2

Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Meads, Araujo 3-1

Lemes, Woodberry, Hall, Bigelow, Araujo 3-0

Lemes, Woodberry, Bigelow, Jensen, Araujo 1-1

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 12-0

On the road 0-2

On a neutral floor 2-0

At home vs. Nonconference 40-0

At home vs. MWC 6-0

On the road vs. Nonconference 0-1

On the road vs. MWC 0-1

On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 2-0

On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1

BYU LANDS TOP-20 RECRUITING CLASS

Four highly regarded high school recruits signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at BYU during the November signing period. Rated one of the top-20 recruiting classes nationally and the third-best class in the West, BYU received official commitments from top prospects David Burgess (Irvine, Calif.), Lee Cummard (Mesa, Ariz.), Chris Miles (Provo, Utah) and Trent Plaisted (San Antonio, Texas).

BYU PICKED AS FAVORITE TO CLAIM 2004 MWC CROWN

Bigelow, Araujo selected to preseason All-MWC team

The Mountain West Conference released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-conference team at the league's media day being held at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. The league media selected BYU to claim the Mountain West Conference men's basketball title with 144 total points and 13 of the possible 19 first-place votes. Utah was picked second with 138 points and was the only other team to garner first place votes with six. Defending MWC Tournament Champion Colorado State came in third with 107 points, followed by UNLV fourth with 97. Wyoming placed fifth with 73 points, followed by San Diego State (55), New Mexico (36), and Air Force (35). BYU has earned a share of the conference titles in 2001 and 2003, but this is the first time in more than 10 years the Cougars have been the preseason MWC favorites. The Cougars and Utes shared the conference's regular season crown last season with 11-3 records. BYU went 23-9 overall and fell to Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Utah finished the 2002-03 season 25-8, defeating Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kentucky in the second round. The Mountain West Conference has sent six of its eight teams to the postseason each of the past two seasons and is the only league in the country to have sent 75 percent of its members to the postseason two straight years. BYU seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo were selected to the preseason first-team All-MWC team. Other athletes picked were Utahs Tim Frost and Nick Jacobson, Air Force's Tim Keller and the top MWC returnee Matt Nelson from CSU.

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