BYU (12-4, 2-1 MWC) completes its first Mountain West Conference road trip at Air Force (6-10, 0-3 MWC) Monday at 2 p.m. in Clune Arena. The Cougars are coming off a loss at New Mexico Saturday, while the Falcons suffered their second straight close MWC defeat Saturday, losing in overtime to Utah. Monday's game is being televised by SportsWest Productions on KSL, channel 5 in Salt Lake City. The live radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 with Greg Wrubell and Brian Santiago calling the action on the Cougar Sports Network.
BYU will play its third straight road game when its faces in-state rival Utah in the 10 p.m. ESPN Big Monday game on Jan. 28 in Salt Lake City. The Cougars will then return home looking to extend its 30-game home winning streak against Wyoming on Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Marriott Center.
GAME FACTS (BYU Game 17)
Monday, Jan. 21, 2002
BYU (12-4, 2-1) at Air Force (6-10, 0-3)
Clune Arena [6,002]
USAF Academy, Colo
2:07 p.m. MT
BYU, Steve Cleveland (79-61 in fifth year; same overall)
AFA, Joe Scott (14-31 in second year; same overall)
Series: BYU leads, 38-7
SportsWest Productions (KSL, channel 5, in SLC)
Air Time: 2 p.m. MT
Play-by-Play: Tom Kirkland
Game Analyst: Craig Hislop
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time - 1 MT
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Brian Santiago
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Mark Bigelow 6-7 190 So. 16.5 3.0
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-9 215 Sr. 10.4 5.0
C 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 245 Fr. 9.3 3.8
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Jr. 15.1 6.9
G 31 Matt Montague 6-0 190 Sr. 6.4 7.3 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 20 Daniel Bobik 6-6 205 So. 8.6 2.9
G 22 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 200 Fr. 3.8 1.4
C 42 Jon Carlisle 6-10 260 So. 1.9 2.4
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 So. 1.1 1.8
C 40 Dan Howard 7-0 225 So. 0.7 1.1
G 10 Terry Nashif 5-10 165 Fr. 0.5 0.6 apg
F 4 Jesse Pinegar 6-9 225 Fr. 0.4 0.6
G 12 Shawn Opunui (OUT/INJURY) 5-11 175 Fr. 1.5 2.8 apg
Scouting Air Force
Air Force is 6-10 on the year and 0-3 in conference play after its second straight tough MWC defeat Saturday, losing in overtime, 63-57, to Utah at home. The Falcons also lost at New Mexico Monday, 50-47. The other MWC loss was vs. UNLV (66-54). The Falcons returned 10 lettermen and four starters from last year's inaugural Joe Scott squad that finished 8-21 overall and 3-11 in the Mountain West Conference. Sophomore Robert Todd, the team's fourth-leading scorer at 7.1 ppg, was suspended and then left the team this year after eight games. Lamoni Yazzie (6-1, 180, Sr., G) leads the Falcons in scoring at 13.2, followed by Joel Gerlach (6-6, 195, So., F) at 11.8 and Tom Bellaires (6-7, 230, Jr., F/C) at 11.1. Another returning starter, Vernard Jenkins (5-9, 184, Jr., G) has a team-leading 38 assists. in 16 games. Bellairs pulls down a team-best 5.4 rebounds per game. The Falcons have attempted more than 300 three-point shots in 16 games , putting up more than 19 treys per game. They make 7.2 threes per game on average, shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. Yazzie has made a team-best 37 three-pointers (2.3 per game). The Falcons have lost four straight at home. They have only played six games at home this year. They are 2-4 with home wins over Denver (52-44) and Arkansas State (67-63 OT) and home losses to Oakland (57-53), Tennessee Tech (64-44) and UNLV (66-54). Air Forces's other wins are over Yale (68-62), Montana State (70-65), Liberty (66-54) and Northern Arizona (57-56). Air Force is 4-8 away from home this year with a 2-0 neutral-court record and a 2-6 away mark. The Falcons split their first eight games of the year, alternating wins and losses, before suffering two straight losses for the first time when a loss at Denver on Dec. 12. followed their loss to Oakland. The Falcons are currently suffering their second muliple-game losing skid of the year, having dropped their last four contests. As a team, Air Force shoots 46.5 percent from the floor, 37.1 percent on threes, and 71.7 percent from the line. They average only 22.1 rebounds while allowing 28.8. Air Force is averaging 56.4 points and allowing 61.9. Teams have shot 48 percent against the Falcons, but only 32 percent on threes.
AIR FORCE PROBABLE STARTERS
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. PPG RPG
33 Joel Gerlach F 6-6 195 11.8 3.6
32 Tom Bellairs C 6-7 230 11.1 5.4
12 Lamoni Yazzie G 6-1 180 13.2 2.4
10 A.J. Kuhle G 6-3 185 6.7 2.4
22 Vernard Jenkins G 5-9 180 3.6 1.9
BYU has won four straight in the series since AFA's 60-55 win at The Academy on Jan. 27, 2000. Air Force has won two of the last three at home (Cleveland is 1-2 at Air Force). BYU won the last meeting last year by a single point, 51-50, to earn a share of the MWC regular season title. BYU won three times last year vs. the Falcons. BYU is 17-4 all-time at Air Force.
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 38-7
BYU Record in Provo: 18-3
BYU Record at The Academy: 17-4
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 3-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 5-2
Longest BYU Win Streak: 15 (1990-96)
Longest Air Force Win Streak: 1
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 35, 103-68 in 1993
Largest Air Force Margin of Victory: 19, 61-80 in 1998
Most Points Scored by BYU: 110 in 1965
Most Points Scored by Air Force: 93 in 1987
LAST YEAR VS. AFA
BYU Got Out to Early Lead, Defeated Air Force in Provo
PROVO -- BYU utilized a stingy defense and a hot hand from senior guard Terrell Lyday to defeat Air Force 62-45 in the Marriott Center. The Falcons began the game missing their first 10 field goal attempts as the Cougars scored 15 unanswered points. The Cougar charge was led by Lyday who had 10 points before the Falcons found the bottom of the net. Air Force coach Joe Scott cited the Falcons scoring drought as a reason for the lackluster performance. "This game was won in the first six minutes," Scott said. "If you want to win a game on the road, you have to go out and take it. We just let them have it in the beginning." Despite the slow start, the Falcons stayed in the game by playing some defense of their own and by taking advantage of the Cougars' 10 first half turnovers. "It was evident that our impatience led to too many turnovers," coach Steve Cleveland said. "They were just silly turnovers. Air Force is not an easy team to play against and we can't play like that to win." The Falcons first half hopes rested on the shoulders of Lamoni Yazzie, as he scored 8 points, including 2 of 3 from the three point line. Air Force fought back into the game early in the second half with a 7-3 run to open the second period, this time led by sophomore center Tom Bellairs. The Falcons closed the gap to just 8 points at 32-24. Scott felt the Falcons' effort was vital to keeping it close. "I can't question my guys on their effort and their alertness on defense," Scott said. "We're playing pretty good defense. Now, our offense has to get up to where it matches our defense." The Cougars responded in the second half by posting a 15-5 run of their own, with buckets from Mekeli Wesley, Trent Whiting and Lyday, along with two free throws from junior guard Matt Montague. The run put the Falcons away for the night, with the teams exchanging buckets and fouls for the final ten minutes. Cleveland commented on the Air Force scheme. "Its hard to get any kind of rhythm or flow against these guys [Air Force]," Cleveland said. "You just never feel comfortable playing that system, at either end of the floor and you don't know what you're going to get." Lyday led the Cougars with 22 points on 8 for 13 shooting to pace the Cougars. The Cougars other two leading scores, Whiting and Wesley added 11 and 9 respectively. Meanwhile, Bellairs scored a career high 18 points, including 10 for 11 shooting from the free throw line. Yazzie was the only other Falcon in double figures at 11 and shooting 60 percent from behind the arc.
Wesley Carried Cougars to Share of MWC Crown in Season Finale at AFA
COLORADO SPRINGS -- Mekeli Wesley scored 25 points and Terrell Lyday hit two free throws with 5.8 seconds left to give BYU a 51-50 win over Air Force Saturday afternoon in Clune Arena. "Today and on this entire road trip we made plays," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. " We made plays on defense and on offense. We didn't do that earlier in the season." On BYU's final possession, Lyday penetrated from the left into the lane and drew a foul from Air Force's Jarvis Croff while putting up a one-handed leaner. Lyday, who scored 11 points with four rebounds, connected on both attempts to give BYU the lead at 51-50 with just under six seconds left. After Air Force's three attempt fell short BYU had completed its first conference road sweep of the season. Wesley led BYU with 25 points and was the primary reason the Cougars were in position to win in the end. After having trailed by 10 points with 12 minutes remaining, Wesley scoring 11 of BYU's next 16 points as BYU pulled even at 46-46 with 2:30 left on the clock. The Cougars took the lead for the first time in the final half at 48-46 when Trent Whiting scored his only points of the game with two free throws with 1:38 remaining. But the game started to look like it would still go the Falcons' way when center Tom Bellairs scored two baskets, the last one giving the Falcons a 51-50 advantage and included a foul by Wesley on the play. A Bellairs miss at the line set the table for Lyday's winning free throws on the other end. Croff and Joel Gerlach paced Air Force with 12 points apiece. Lamoni Yazzie added 11 points in front of a crowd of 2,969. The first half also had a dramatic end with BYU stepping up to make a play. With BYU trailing by three points, the Cougars called a timeout to run a play for the final shot of the half. But an execution breakdown forced forward Nate Knight to drive with the ball, resulting in an offensive foul turnover. The Falcons had a chance to go up by five, but Matt Montague came out of no where to anticipate the Falcon inbound and was able to draw a foul after a head fake on a three attempt. He made all three free throws with the clock expired to pull BYU even at the half. "Matt didn't execute on the play and came over and apologized to me," Cleveland said. "He made up for it though when he turned around and made that steal and was able to draw the foul and make all three free throws."
BYU Defeated Falcons in MWC Tournament Opener at the Thomas & Mack
LAS -- Terrell Lyday scored 25 points to lead BYU to a win over Air Force, 69-54, in the Cougars' MWC tournament opener. The Cougars played the Falcons in back-to-back contests, having just played in Colorado Springs to finish the regular season. Trent Whiting added 17 and Mekeli Wesley 13 as BYU shot 51 percent from the field and 60 percent on threes (9-16). Air Force also shot well, making 52 percent overall and 50 percent on threes. Matt Montague started for the third time vs. the Falcons, playing 37 minutes while going 2-2 from the floor (5 points, 4 rebounds). Once again, Montague provided a spark at the end of the half but BYU trailed 31-25 going into the break. The Cougars put the clamps on Air Force in the second half, allowing only 22 points. Meanwhile BYU's offense found the mark, scoring 44 points while shooting 58 percent from the floor and making 6-7 three-point attempts. Lamoni Yazzie hit two threes and led Air Force with 12 points.
AFA Quick Facts:
Location: USAF Academy, Colo.
Colors: Blue and Silver
Home Arena: Clune Arena (6,002)
Conference: Mountain West
Athletic Director: Col. Randall Spetman
Head Coach: Joe Scott
Alma Mater: Princeton University (1987)
Office Phone: (719) 333-3039
Overall Record (Years): 14-31 (2nd year)
Record at School (Years): same
Assistant Coaches: Chris Mooney, Mike McKee, Larry Mangino, Maj. Jon Jordan
Overall Record: 8-21
Conf. Record/Finish: 3-11/8th
Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: NA
Letterman Returning/Lost: 10/4
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
Returning Starters (last year's stats)
Lamoni Yazzie, 6-1, 180, Sr., G (8.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Tom Bellairs, 6-7, 230, Jr., F/C (9.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Vernard Jenkins, 5-9, 184, Jr., G (6.7 ppg, 3.8 apg)
Joel Gerlach, 6-6, 195, So., F (8.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
Basketball Contact: Jerry Cross
Office: (719) 333-3950
Home: (719) 473-8704
Fax: (719) 333-3798
Press Row: (719) 333-4063
Athletics Web Site
Lobos Deal Cougars First Conference Loss
ALBUQUERQUE -- BYU fell 73-58 to New Mexico at The Pit Saturday. The Cougars took a one-point lead into the locker room at the half but were outscored42-26 to lose the game by 15, their worst loss of the season. BYU (12-4, 2-1) fell victim to a hot-shooting New Mexico team that made 53 percent from the field for the game. "They made shots tonight, even when they were contested," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "Offensively, they had good balance." The Lobos (12-4, 2-0) got solid contributions from their guards, with Ruben Douglas, Eric Chatfield and Tim Lightfoot each scoring 13 points in the contest. A bright spot for the Cougars continues to be Jared Jensen, who had a game-high 15 points in 24 minutes of play. Jensen got little help from the outside, however, as BYU struggled from the floor. "I thought we were going to win," said UNM head coach Fran Fraschilla. "The catch was the defense - we did a good job on their shooters." BYU was 24-for-54 from the floor and made only 3-of-13 three-pointers. Mark Bigelow failed to extend his BYU record of 22 consecutive games with a three-pointer. Bigelow also ended his string of 14 straight games in double figures. He was 2-7 with four points, a season low. "It was tough," said Jensen. "Obviously, we're disappointed a little bit but we still have unity, we're still going to go out and compete. We've got to keep this thing rolling." The Cougars came out aggressive and sharp in the first half, going toe-to-toe with the sharp-shooting Lobos. Cougar forward Eric Nielsen was 2-2 from beyond the arc, equaling the career-best effort he had against Stanford this season. He finished the game with 10 points, his fifth straight game in double figures. Travis Hansen had six early points, including an authoritative one-handed dunk over Lobo center Chad Bell. But Hansen - like the rest of the Cougars - cooled off in the second half, not scoring again until 6:47 remained in the game. "We competed with a lot more energy in the first half than in the second," Cleveland said. "Part of making plays is making shots when the game is on the line." New Mexico went on a 12-2 run to start the second half, going up 43-34 and never looking back. The hot-shooting Lobos shot nearly 60 percent in the second half, compared to BYU's 41 percent. Free throws also plagued the Cougars as they only shot 58 percent from the line on 7-for-12 shooting, their worst effort since Jan. 13, 2001, when they shot 50 percent against SDSU. BYU guard Daniel Bobik, however, pushed his free throw streak to 24 on 2-for-2 shooting, passing Hansen's previous season high of 23. Senior guard Matt Montague dished out 11 assists, his fourth double-digit assist game this year and second-highest total behind the career-high 15 assists he had against the University of Idaho. He also grabbed six boards to lead the team in rebounding for the second time in the last three games.
After holding San Diego State to 37 percent shooting and UNLV to 39 percent at home to open MWC play, BYU yielded 53.6 percent shooting to the Lobos at The Pit Saturday, the highest percentage made by a BYU opponent this year. Only two teams have shot better than 50 percent against BYU. The Cougars have held nine opponents this year below 40 percent shooting while only three teams have shot better than 45 percent against BYU (Arizona State, .462; Utah State, .509 and New Mexico, .536).
BYU's offense has struggled a bit of late. BYU shot 44 percent at New Mexico and 43 percent from the floor vs UNLV in the last two games. On the year, BYU shoots a 47.4 field goal percentage, but has not reached that percentage in the last five games. BYU has shot 45 percent or better in 11 of 16 games .
BYU's three wing players, starters Travis Hansen and Mark Bigelow and sixth man Daniel Bobik have struggled from the floor of late. Over the last five games Hansen is shooting 23-59 (.390), Bigelow is 18-53 (.340) and Bobik is 10-32 (.313). Bobik showed he might be breaking out of his shooting woes after making a career-best percentage at New Mexico, going 4-6 from the floor.
Post Scoring Stepping Up
BYU's post players have stepped up their scoring as Eric Nielsen has scoring in double figures in each of the last five games and Jensen in three of the five games. Bart Jepsen added a career-best seven points vs. SDSU. Jensen made a career-high six field goals and went 6-7 from the floor vs. the Lobos. Nielsen's double-digit scoring steak is the longest of his career.
Biggest Crowd in Two Years
Attendance vs San Diego State in the MWC opener 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.
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 in Conference Game 2s
Cleveland's teams have opened 2-0 the past two seaons after going 1-1 in his first three seasons. BYU defeated SDSU and UNLV at home to start league play each of the past two seasons.
Cleveland in Conference Game 3s
Cleveland's teams have been 2-1 after three games in each of Clevelands five seasons at BYU. The Cougars won game three at home vs. Wyoming in 1998, finished the sweep of a SDSU-Hawaii road trip on a last second three-pointer by Mekeli Wesley in Honolulu in 1999, defeated Wyoming at home in 2000, lost at Colorado State (60-55) last year and lost at New Mexico Saturday.
Cleveland after Conference Game 4s
BYU has opened 2-2 in 1998 and 2001 and was 3-1 in 1999 and 2000.
Cleveland in Conference Games Overall
With the loss at New Mexico Saturday, Cleveland's conference record dropped to 29-30 after he had reached a .500 mark with the UNLV win for the first time since a 2-2 mark early in his first season. Cleveland has been .500 in conference play overall three times (1-1, 2-2, 29-29) and has had a winning mark twice (1-0, 2-1).He is 19-12 (.613) in MWC games.
Getting out of the Gate
BYU has played well in the first half this year, with the exception of last Tuesday's game vs. UNLV when BYU scored a season-low 22 pointsand shot 38 percent. BYU has led at the half in 14 of 16 games this season, trailing UNLV (26-22) and Stanford (41-40). BYU is outscoring its opponents in the first half 557-439 (34.8 -- 27.4). The Cougars have scored more points in the second half but also yield more points. BYU has outscored its opponents 596-520 in the second half (37.3 - 32.5). Making up for its poor offensive first half vs. UNLV, the Cougars rebounded in the final 20 minutes to score its average of 38 points, shoot 48 percent and hold the Rebels to only 21 second half points. BYU didn't play well in the second half at UNM, scoring 26 points and shooting 41 percent. BYU has been outscored 28-16 (14.0 - 8.0) in two overtime periods this year.
BYU is shooting 49.2 percent in its 12 victories and 42.6 percent in its four losses. The Cougars are shooting .499 at home and .436 on the road. BYU has shot at least 45 percent in 11 games this year. BYU has shot 50 percent or better three times this year and is making 47.4 percent from the floor overall.
From Three-Point Range
BYU is shooting 39.2 percent on threes. BYU was only 3-13 at UNM. BYU made eight three pointers in the first half (season best) and totaled 11 for the game (tying a season high) vs. Southern Utah. Since that outing, BYU has not made more than five threes in a game over the last five contests. 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 36 threes (.419) and made a three in the first 15 games this year and a BYU-record 22 straight dating back to his freshman season before going 0-3 at UNM. Daniel Bobik (.389) has made 21 treys while Travis Hansen (.408) has made 20.
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 14 of 16 games and Hansen has been double-digits in 12 of 16 games. Both failed to reach double digits in the same game for the first time at UNM. Bigelow scores 16.5 ppg and Hansen 15.1 ppg on the year.
Other Scoring Options
The Cougars have five players scoring at least 8.6 points per game. After leaders Mark Bigelow (16.5) and Travis Hansen (15.1), senior Eric Nielsen averages 10.4 ppg and has scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford. Freshman center Jared Jensen is averaging 9.3 ppg and had a career-high 17 points vs. SDSU. Reserve guard Daniel Bobik is adding 8.6 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 77.7 percent from the line for the year. Last year, BYU led the nation at 78 percent from the line. This year the Cougars are fourth in the latest NCAA rankings. BYU suffered its worst shooting night from the line at UNM Saturday, making only 7-12 free throws (.583).
In the Polls
BYU received four votes (T44th with Utah) in last week's AP poll. Wyoming had 5 votes (43rd). BYU did not receive votes in last week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
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 (83-62)i n 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 after a late Arizona run in the final eight minutes. 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.
Bigelow Sets Three-Point Mark
Tuesday against UNLV, Mark Bigelow connected from behind the arc for the 22nd straight game dating back to his freshman season, a new BYU record. His streak ended with three misses at UNM Saturday. Terrell Lyday previously held the record with 21, all coming in the 1999-2000 season. Lyday's 21 games is still the single-season consecutive games record for BYU. Bigelow also achieved the third-longest single season mark at 15 games. BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson is second on the single-season list. Toolson made a three in 29 of 30 games as a senior in 1990, with streaks of 16 and 13 games. He didn't make a three vs. Wyoming. Bigelow has made a three in 37 of the 42 games he has played.
BYU had its two-game winning streak halted at UNM.. BYU had a season-best 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. After opening the season with a win at the University of San Diego, BYU has lost its last four true away games (not including Stanford win on a neutral court) against Utah State (OT), UCSB, and Pepperdine (OT) and UNM. BYU's longest losing streak this year is two games.
Daniel Bobik has made 24 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 free throw streak of the season, reaching 23 straight makes from the line until missing on his fourth attempt last Saturday vs. SDSU. Eric Nielsen has reached double-digit points for a career-best five straight games.
Home Winning Streak
BYU has a 30-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 38 straight wins at home (Detriot not at home again until Jan. 31. BYU is 10-0 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. BYU has won 12 straight at home over MWC teams.
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 another month. He reinjuring his left thumb vs. Idaho (torn ligaments) and just got out of a hard cast this week. He originally suffered ligament damage in his thumb while playing three minutes at Utah State on Dec. 1. He will be in a splint for several weeks and then undergo more therapy.
Hitting the Glass
BYU was out boarded by UNM, 33-29. The Cougars have only been out rebounded three times this year but two have come in the last three games. 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. BYU has had the rebounding edge in 12 of 16 games, earning a 11-1 record when winning the battle of the boards. Overall, BYU averages 35.9 rebounds while its opponents grab on average 31.1. 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 4.8 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 seven of the last eight games, including a team-high six boards at UNM.
BYU Fared Well in Nonconference
BYU achieved double-digit nonconference wins for the third straight season with a 10-3 mark this year. 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 12-4 record this year, Bigelow has already helped the Cougars equal the number of victories his team achieved his freshman year. During Bigelow's mission, BYU earned back-to-back 20-plus win seasons.
Tough MWC Conference
BYU's seven Mountain West opponents have combined (as of Jan. 20) to win 64 percent of their games so far this year. Including the Cougars, five of the eight teams have already won 11 or more games and three have won at least 12 games. Only Air Force has a losing record at 6-10. 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 20. Five have a losing record and one is at .500. Overall, BYU's opponents have combined to win nearly 60 percent of their games with the nonconference teams having won 57 percent and MWC teams 64 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 4-3 against teams that earned postseason berths last year with losses at Utah State, Pepperdine and New Mexico 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 also appeared on Fox Sports West 2 against Pepperdine adn Fox Sports Arizona vs. Arizona State.
BYU is currently ranked 38th 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. 20). 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. 20), BYU is the second-rated MWC team with a 32 RPI. The Mountain West Conference is rated 7th among the 32 conferences (and five independents).
New Mexico 36
San Diego State 51
Colorado State 142
Air Force 195
BYU in MWC Statistics (as of Jan. 20)
Category All Games Conf. Only
Scoring Offense 5th 5th
Scoring Defense 3rd 3rd
Scoring Margin 3rd 4th
FT Percentage 1st 4th
FG Percentage 4th 5th
FG % Defense 3rd 3rd
3-FG Percentage 2nd 5th
3-FG % Defense 1st 1st
Rebound Offense 5th 4th
Rebounding Defense 3rd 6th
Rebound Margin 5th 5th
Blocked Shots 7th 3rd
Assists 5th 6th
Steals 8th T-7th
Turnover Margin 7th T-5th
Assist/Turnover Ratio 3rd 5th
Offensive Rebounds 7th 5th
Defensive Rebounds 2nd 4th
3-FG Made 4th T-4th
Â• Matt Montague leads the MWC in assists and assist/turnover ratio. He is eighth in steals and nine in defensive rebounds (16th in total rebound average).
Â• Mark Bigelow fifth in scoring, third in free throw percentage, and fifth in three-pointers made per game.
Â• Travis Hansenis tied for ninth in scoring, seventh in rebounding average and second in defensive rebounds.
Â• Eric Nielsen is fourth in field goal percentage.
Â• Daniel Bobik would lead all MWC players in free throw percentage (.938) but doesn't shoot enough to qualify for the rankings (min. two made free throws per game played).
Â• Jared Jensen leads the MWC in field goal percentage.
BYU in National Statistics (as of Jan. 20)
Â• BYU is fourth in the nation in free throw shooting percentage at .777. (1. Morehead St., 79.7, 2. Loyola Mary., 78.6, 3. Tulsa, 78.4).
Â• Matt Montague is tied for third in assists (7.3) and Daniel Bobik is ninth in free throw percentage (.938).
MATT MONTAGUE / 6-0 Â• 190 Â• senior Â• point guard
Montague provides leadership at the point having started 73 times and played in all 108 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. He has reached double-digit assists four times this yea, including 11 at UNM. He averages a MWC-best 7.3 assists per game on the year and is tied for third in assists in the lastest national statistics. 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. The point guard, who is third on the team in rebounding, has grabbed six or more rebounds in seven of the last eight games. Montague hit a three pointer for three straight games (USF, Pepperdine, SDSU), including an NBA-length three to beat the shot clock vs. SDSU, for the first time in his career. 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 made a career-best eight free throws to seal the win for BYU vs. Stanford.
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 was 4-13 at UNM and scored 8 points. He played strong defense despite an off night offensively vs. UNLV. He had 10 points but was 2-10 from the floor. He was able to shut down Dalron Johnson when given the assignment, despite a three-inch height differential. He led BYU with 19 points in its MWC-opening win over SDSU. He went 5-10 from the floor, including 3-4 on threes. His three treys equaled his career high and his 3-4 three-point effort set a new personal best in three-point percentage. Hansen has led BYU in scoring in five times overall this year. He has reached double-digit points in 12 of 16 games. He is BYU's second-leading scorer with a 15.1 average. He grabs a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game. Hansen had his consecutive free throws-made streak end at 23 on vs. UNLV. His free throw streak is the second-longest BYU streak this year. He 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 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 boards 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, even though he is still struggling somewhat to regain his pre-mission conditioning and strength. 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 had a season-low four points vs UNM. Bigelow made two three-pointers Tuesday vs. UNLV to set a BYU record with 22 consecutive games with a made trey. Bigelow made a three in the first 15 games this year and the last seven of his freshman year in 1998-99. Terrell Lyday holds the single-season mark (21). Biglew reached double figures in 14 straight games and scored at least 13 points in each of those games before his four points at UNM. He scored a team-high 16 points vs. UNLV last Tuesday. He has been BYU's most consistent scorer. He leads BYU in scoring at 16.5 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 five games. He is 18-53 (.340) in the last five games, including 5-22(.227) on threes. He has made two or more threes in 10 games this year, including a career-equaling 5 treys vs. Southern Utah.
ERIC NIELSEN / 6-9 Â• 215 Â• senior Â• forward
A four-year starter, Nielsen is being asked to play a bigger 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 56.4 career field goal percentage (300-532) ranks third all-time at BYU (No. 1 Alan Taylor, .574; No. 2 Gary Trost, .566). 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 three seasons for coach Cleveland, helping the Cougars earn a combined 58-24 (.707) record to date, including 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 (5.0 rpg). He has scored in double figures in the last five straight games and nine times overall this year. He had 10 point at UNM, 11 points vs. UNLV and 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 and 8 boards vs. Weber State. He had 14 at Utah State and had a then career-high 19 points vs. ASU in BYU's home opener (his prior best was 17 against Utah at the Thomas & Mack Center in the 2000 MWC tournament in Las Vegas). Last year the most shots he took in a game was eight, when he averaged 3.8 shot attempts per game. This year he is taking 7.5 shots per game. He is secondbehind teammate Jared Jensen in field goal percentage (.567).
JARED JENSEN / 6-9 Â• 245 Â• freshman Â• center
Jensen earned the 2001 Utah Deseret News Mr. Basketball Award after scoring 25.8 points and pulling down 13 rebounds per game this past season at Fremont High School. With the loss of 2001 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Mekeli Wesley in the post, he has earned the starting center spot. Jensen had a team-high 15 points at UNM, making a career-high 6 shots while going 6-7 from the floor. He rebounded from his only scoreless outing of the year against Pepperdine by scoring a career-best 17 points vs SDSU. He aded eight points and seven boards vs. UNLV. He has scored in double figures in seven of the last 10 games and eight times overall this year. 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 9.3 ppg. He is shooting a team-leading and MWC-best 63.5 percent from the floor. He had a career-high 10 attempts, scoring 10 points vs. USF. 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 and Tuesday vs. UNLV. He had 14 points on 4-5 shooting and 6-8 from the line at UCSB while playing a career-high 32 minutes. 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
Last year Daniel Bobik averaged 3.5 points and 10.4 minutes while playing in 28 of 33 games 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 went 4-6 from the floor, a career-best .667 percentage, with 11 points at UNM. He scored on back-to-back ally-oop layins. In the prior four games, he went just 6-26 (.231) from the floor, including 3-14 (.214) from three-point range. He did not score for the first time this year vs. SDSU, but played a nice floor game vs. UNLV with seven points and two assists. He had eight points at Pepperdine in front of many of his family and friends from nearby Newbury Park. He shoots a MWC-best 93.8 percent (9th nationally) from the line and has made 24 straight free throws. He was 2-2 in each of the past two games after no attempts in the previous 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 six 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 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 16 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 nine minutes vs. UNLV Tuesday but only 2 at UNM. 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 11 games, including the last 10 straight. His time is usually limited because of his conditioning but he usually contributes when he gets on the floor. He had four points and season-high four boards in 13 minutes at UNM and two points and two boards in six minutes vs. UNLV. 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 three times, 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 seven games. He scored a season-high 6 points in seven minutes vs. Fort Lewis.
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 13 games. He played seven minutes at UNM but appeared only briefly in his prior 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 9.8 points in those games.
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 breifly at UNM and vs. UNLV and 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 11 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.
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.
Opunui will be out for at least another month 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 got his hard cast taken off this week and will be in a removable splint for two or three more 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.