Game 19 - BYU Hosts Air Force Saturday at 11 a.m.

Sophomore center Derek Dawes scored a career-high 11 points off the bench in BYU's last outing at Wyoming. The Cougars host reigning MWC regular-season champion Air Force Saturday at 11 a.m. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU (6-12, 0-3 MWC) returns home to host the reigning regular-season MWC champion Air Force Falcons (11-6, 2-0 MWC) Saturday in a regionally televised 11 a.m. (MST) tilt on ABC. The telecast is also available nationally via ESPN FULLCOURT. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 (KSL.com).

UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS

The Cougars continue a three-game homestand by hosting New Mexico Monday night at 8 p.m. (SportsWest, UPN-Z24 in Utah). BYU will then face in-state rival Utah on Jan. 31 in a 10 p.m. ESPN tilt.

BYU GAME #19 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (6-12, 0-3 MWC) vs. AIR FORCE FALCONS (11-6, 2-0 MWC)

SATURDAY, JAN. 22, 2005

MARRIOTT CENTER (22,700)

PROVO, UTAH 11 a.m. MST

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (135-99 in eighth season; same overall)

Air Force, Chris Mooney (11-6 in first season; same overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 42-9 (The two teams split the home-and-home series last season)

TV:

ABC (Regional coverage, also available nationally via ESPN FULLCOURT, with Gary Thorne calling play-by-play and Doug Gottlieb adding analysis)

Radio:

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

Web:

Live audio and live stats are available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (see upcoming schedule)

COUGAR QUICK HITS

- BYU coach Steve Cleveland has utilized 13 different starting lineups this season in18 games while dealing with injuries and some inconsistent play from a mostly inexperienced roster.

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

- Senior guard Mike Hall leads BYU in scoring at 13.7 ppg. Sophomore guard Mike Rose adds 9.9 ppg with sophomore point guard Austin Ainge contributing 9.8 ppg. Senior center Jared Jensen averages 9.5 ppg from the post. Ainge leads BYU with 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals. Sophomore transfer Keena Young pulls down a team-best 5.5 rebounds with sophomore forward Garner Meads averaging 5.2 rpg and sophomore center Derek Dawes contributing 4.8 rpg.

- BYU shoots .426 from the floor, .363 from three and .759 (No. 1 MWC, 9th nationally) from the line while averaging 68.9 ppg. BYU opponents have shot .427 (FG) and .346 (3FG) while scoring 69.8 ppg. BYU opponents have a slight 36.3 to 36.1 rebounding edge on average over the first 18 games.

- BYU's schedule this season has included four Pac-10 opponents and two nationally ranked ACC teams (North Carolina and NC State). BYU (6-12, 0-3 MWC) is 4-4 at home, 1-5 away and 1-3 on a neutral floor.

- Monday's game at Wyoming was Steve Cleveland's 234th game as coach of the Cougars, moving him into second for all-time games coached at BYU. Cleveland needs two more victories to tie Frank Arnold (1975-83) for fourth place on BYU's all-time victory list. In the Marriott Center, Cleveland has the second-most wins and needs five more home victories to top the list.

LOOKING AT AIR FORCE

At 2-0 in league play, the Air Force Falcons are on track to contend for their second consecutive Mountain West Conference regular-season championship. With an 11-6 overall record, the Falcons continue to dominate at home, defeating in-state rival Colorado State (58-53) and New Mexico (64-62) to maintain its 22-game home win streak. Air Force is struggling to match its success at the Clune arena as the Falcons are 1-5 away from home. The Falcons are led by two sensational juniors, including last year's MWC Co-MVP and first-team all-MWC selection Nick Welch. As the first conference Player of the Year in program history, Welch is averaging 12.2 points and is currently the second-leading scorer for the Falcons this season. He is tied with teammate Tim Keller in assists, averaging 2.6 dishes per game. The Falcons leading scorer and last year's honorable mention all-MWC selection Antoine Hood is scoring 12.9 ppg and averaging 3.3 rpg. As a team, the Falcons' 52.3 points allowed per game ranks first in the nation. The Falcons also lead the country in lowest turnovers per game at 9.5. The Falcons are shooting 45 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from the arc and 71.4 percent from the charity stripe. Air Force is coached by Chris Mooney, who is in his first season as a Division I head coach. Mooney has been with the Falcon program for four years, including the last two as the associate head coach.

LAST OUTING - FALCONS BEAT LOBOS, 64-62

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Nick Welch scored 19 points and Air Force won its 22nd straight home game, beating New Mexico 64-62 Saturday despite grabbing just nine rebounds and allowing the Lobos to shoot nearly 70 percent. Air Force (11-6, 2-0 Mountain West) couldn't stop the Lobos from hitting shots and had trouble getting inside for rebounds, making up for it by harassing the Lobos into 23 turnovers - 16 on steals - that led to 31 points. New Mexico (14-3, 1-1) shot a staggering 69 percent, had just three players - Troy DeVries, Mark Walters and Alfred Neale - miss shots, and had a 28-9 rebounding advantage. It still wasn't enough to prevent the Lobos' 20th straight conference road loss. Even with the mistakes, New Mexico still had a chance at the end. The Lobos got within three on DeVries' layup two minutes into the second half, then went more than six minutes without a field goal as Air Force pushed the lead to 45-36. New Mexico got close again, fell behind by 12, then made a late 13-2 run, taking a 58-57 lead on Neale's 3-pointer with 46 seconds left. Air Force took the lead right back with 29 seconds left, when Welch powered inside for a three-point play that made it 60-58. New Mexico never got a chance to get it back. Matt McCraw snared another sloppy crosscourt pass by the Lobos and hit two free throws with 21 seconds left to put the Falcons up four, then Welch hit two free throws after David Chiotti scored at the other end. New Mexico played without top scorer and rebounder Danny Granger, who had surgery Monday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

AIR FORCE'S PROJECTED STARTERS

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

F 45 Nick Welch 6-8 215 Jr. 12.2 3.2

F 21 Jacob Burtschi 6-6 205 So. 7.6 4.2

G 11 Tim Keller 6-3 185 Sr. 7.5 2.3

G 15 Antoine Hood 6-5 190 Jr. 12.9 3.3

G 5 Matt McCraw 6-2 180 So. 8.7 1.8

SERIES NOTES

This will be the 53rd meeting between the two teams, with BYU leading the series 42-9. The Cougars are 21-3 in Provo, 18-6 at Air Force, and 3-0 at a neutral site. BYU has won eight of the 11 games in the series since the inception of the Mountain West Conference. The Falcons handed BYU its largest margin of defeat in an MWC game in the first meeting last year at Air Force, downing the Cougars 74-52 while shooting 72.5 percent, the team's highest percentage ever against a Division I team. The Cougars got revenge in the second meeting as BYU handed the Falcons a 67-61 defeat in Provo. BYU has won nine of the last 13 outings since winning a series-best 15 straight over the Falcons from 1990-96. BYU has won the last 13 games in the Marriott Center since a 79-78 Falcon win in 1989 (Cleveland is 5-0 in Provo). Air Force has won four of the last six at USAFA (Cleveland is 2-4 at Air Force). AFA has not won back-to-back games in the series since the first two games in 1961 and 1963.

BYU SERIES RECORD VS. AIR FORCE

Overall Series Record: BYU leads 42-9

BYU Record in Provo: 21-3

BYU Record in Colorado Springs: 18-5

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 3-1

BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 9-4

BYU Record in Overtime Games: 2-0

Last Overtime Game: 1989, won at AFA, 89-88

Longest BYU Win Streak: 15 (1990-96)

Longest Air Force Win Streak: 2 (1961-63)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 35, 103-68 in 1993

Largest Air Force Margin of Victory: 19, 80-61 in 1998

Most Points Scored by BYU: 110 in 1965

Most Points Scored by Air Force: 93 in 1987

LAST YEAR IN PROVO -- COUGARS KNOCK OFF FIRST-PLACE AIR FORCE

PROVO -- BYU kept its perfect home season intact Monday night, knocking off first-place Air Force 67-61 at the Marriott Center. The Cougars' sluggish offense came to life late in the second half behind stellar performances from seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo. Bigelow scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 1:11 that sealed the win and moved him into eighth place on BYU's all-time scoring list. Araujo was a goliath in the paint, also notching 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field. The win pushes the Cougars' winning streak to six games and improves their record to 18-7 (8-4 in the MWC). The Falcons fell to 19-5 (9-2 MWC). BYU has won 17 in a row at the Marriott Center and 61 out of its last 62. "Tonight the pressure was on them," Falcons coach Joe Scott said. "They did a good job when they were down to come back." In the first half BYU sprinted to an early 6-0 lead. However, poor shooting and foul trouble for Araujo kept the Cougars' offense sputtering. BYU ended the half trailing 26-23, shooting 0-4 on threes and 5-10 on free throws. The second half started out in the same fashion until reserve guard Mike Rose hit a three-pointer six minutes in. His basket sparked a surge in the Cougar offense, with Bigelow tying the game at 41 on a baseline jumper with 11 minutes left. On the next possession, a driving lay-up by senior forward Jake Shoff gave BYU its first lead since the first half. The Cougars never trailed again. Steady shooting down the stretch iced the game for BYU. The Cougars shot a season-high 64 percent from the field, including a lights-out 82.4 percent in the second half when the Cougars made all 13 of their attempts from inside the three-point arc. BYU also sank 15-of-18 foul shots in the second half. BYU has historically dominated the match-up, taking 41 out of 50 games. However, times have changed as Air Force has emerged as a MWC powerhouse this season. The Falcons defeated the Cougars 74-52 on Jan. 24. Nick Welch led the Falcons with 16 points, while Tim Keller scored 14 and Antoine Hood added 10.

WHAT COACH CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME IN PROVO

"Bigelow and Araujo played excellent games for us tonight. It was a great college game for both teams. In the past Air Force hasn't been as good as they are this year. But, this year they are hitting on all cylinders."

LAST YEAR AT AIR FORCE -- FALCONS NEARLY FLAWLESS IN 74-52 WIN

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Air Force opened with a 12-2 run and didn't look back as the Falcons defeated BYU 74-52 Saturday to extend their victory streak to 11 games. A Clune Arena record crowd of 6,359 watched the Falcons play nearly flawless basketball. Air Force (13-2, 3-0) executed its "Princeton"-style offense to perfection in the first half, creating open three-point shots and layups. The Falcons hit 6-of-11 three-point attempts in the first half, while the Cougars struggled, hitting only 1-of-6 attempts. Air Force got on a roll early, gaining confidence that didn't leave them the whole game. The Falcons field goal percentage was their second-highest percentage ever and their best against a Division I opponent. The Falcons also played an aggressive match-up zone, which helped create six Cougar turnovers in the game's first eight minutes. During that stretch, Air Force extended its lead to 20-7. The Cougars would counter with a run of their own, cutting the lead to seven at 23-16, but Air Force put the game away with a 19-3 run to close the half with a 42-19 lead. BYU failed to score 20 points in the first half for the first time since scoring 15 points at Auburn on Nov. 23, 1998. Air Force held BYU's leading scorer, Rafael Araujo, to just four points in the first half, while Falcon center Nick Welch lit up the Cougars for 11 points in the first 20 minutes and totaled 20 points for the game, including two three-pointers. Mark Bigelow opened the second half scoring five straight points to cut the Falcon lead to 18, but BYU would get no closer and Air Force would extend its final margin of victory to 22 -- the Cougars' largest-ever deficit to the Falcons and their largest losing margin in a MWC regulars season game. Bigelow finished the game with a season-high 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting to lead BYU, followed by Araujo who finished the game with 12 points and six rebounds.

WHAT BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME AT AIR FORCE

"They took us out of the game in the first 20 minutes. They gave us a good whopping. They shot 72 percent tonight. You can beat anyone shooting 72 percent. Welch was the difference in the game tonight. He really stretched the defense. But all five of the guys on the floor can score and shoot so it makes it really hard to defend."

BYU's LAST OUTING - Cowboys Corral Cougars

LARAMIE -- BYU's Mountain West Conference woes continued Monday night as the Cougars fell 83-71 to the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie, opening league play 0-3 for the first time in the Steve Cleveland era. "I was pleased with our aggression level but if you can't hit open shots on the road, you're not going to win," said BYU head coach Cleveland. "We're not getting stops or making shots when we need to. When you play like this, you're not going to win any conference games." The Cougars got off to a characteristic slow start, falling behind by as many as eight points in the first 10 minutes of play. An 11-2 BYU run capped by a Mike Rose three-pointer gave the Cougars their first lead at 24-23, but it was short-lived as the Cowboys came back to take a 35-31 halftime lead. BYU's top two scorers, Mike Hall and Austin Ainge, combined for a total of two first half points as the Cougars have now shot 18-70 (.250) in the opening periods of the last two games. BYU fought back to open the second half, tying the game at 39 with the help of Hall, who found the net for eight points in the first eight minutes of the period. But Wyoming proved resilient throughout the half, knocking down critical shots and pushing the lead. The Cougars consistently clawed their way back to within two or three points only to be answered on the other end as BYU could not find a way to get stops. A five-minute field goal drought to end the game did the Cougars in as they scored their last six points from the free throw line while the Cowboys padded their lead, eventually earning the 12-point win. Hall finished the game with a team-high 16 points and was the only BYU starter in double figures. Rose added 13 points while Derek Dawes scored a career-high 11 and Keena Young contributed 10, all off the bench. Just one game removed from a career-high 25 points, Ainge scored only two points against the Cowboys. Young, who leads the Cougars in rebounds, pulled down a team-high five boards. Wyoming's Dion Sherrell led the Cowboys with a season-high 19 points. Justin Williams, the league's top shot-blocker, recorded four rejections while also adding 19 points. As a team, BYU shot 37.7 percent from the field and has now made 35.8 percent of its buckets in league play. The Cougars are averaging 43 percent on the season. Wyoming shot 50.8 percent from field goal range, equaling the highest shooting percentage BYU has allowed all season. The Cougars also managed just 22.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc compared to the Cowboys' 39 percent effort from three-point range. The nation's 15th ranked free throw shooting team, BYU hit 78 percent (21-27) from the line, topping its season average.

FREE THROW RECORDS SET THIS SEASON

The Cougars set a school record by making 33 consecutive free throws until finally misfiring against San Diego State. BYU set a single-game record to start the streak by making 24 straight free throws against Santa Clara on Dec. 31. The 33 straight free throws spanned three games. No. 1 in the MWC, BYU is ranked No. 9 nationally in the latest NCAA free throw percentage statistical leaders.

AINGE PROVING POINT

Point guard Austin Ainge is one of BYU's young players taking advantage of his opportunity for playing time this season. He has earned the starting position, making the last 10 starts. He scored a career-high 25 points at CSU last Saturday. He had a career-high 7 rebounds vs. Santa Clara, 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting vs. Utah State and a career-most 8 assists vs. NC State and MSU-Billings. He is now earning the majority of the point guard minutes with senior Terry Nashif or sophomore Sam Burgess coming off the bench. Overall, he is third on the team in scoring at 9.8 ppg and leads the team in assists at 3.7 apg and steals (1.4 spg).

JENSEN MODEL OF EFFICIENCY

Jared Jensen has made 38 of his last 58 field goal attempts (.655) and has made 26 of his last 27 free throws. On the season Jensen leads the team in both categories, shooting .575 (6th in MWC) and .875 from the line (No. 1 in MWC, 28th nationally).

JENSEN GOING TO THE BOARDS

Jared Jensen's 10 rebounds at CSU last Saturday tied his career high. In the first 12 games, Jensen averaged 3.2 rebounds but over the last five games he is averaging 6.7 rebounds.

SCORING SPREE

BYU's 59-point second half against Santa Clara is its most points in a half under head coach Steve Cleveland. BYU also achieved its largest first-half production in the Cleveland era with 57 points in the first 20 minutes vs. Montana State-Billings. Prior to this season, the previous high for a half under Cleveland was 56 first-half points against Rice in 2002. BYU's 110 total points against MSUB is its highest point total since 1995.

SHOOTING PERCENTAGE/WINNING PERCENTAGE

BYU is 6-1 when outshooting its opponent and 0-11 when the opponent has the better percentage. After shooting below 40 percent in six of its first 10 games, the Cougars topped 50 percent shooting the three games (all wins) prior to shooting 41 percent at Saint Mary's. BYU then rebounded with another great shooting night against MSU-Billings, shooting 54.8 percent from the floor and a season-high 62.5 percent from three-point range. BYU made only 38 percent at Wyoming Monday. BYU shot 52 percent vs. Santa Clara and made 50 percent from the floor and 57 percent on threes (12-of-21) vs. Southern Utah. The Cougars made a season-high 60 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent on threes in its win at Weber State.

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 1-0

On the road 0-3

On a neutral floor 0-1

At home vs. Nonconference 3-0

At home vs. MWC 0-1

On the road vs. Nonconference 0-2

On the road vs. MWC 0-1

On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 0-1

On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1

at regular season tournament 1-0

at MWC Tournament 0-1

at NCAA Tournament 0-5

at NIT 0-1

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