Game 22 - BYU Plays at UNLV Saturday

Sophomore center Derek Dawes was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week Monday. The Cougars face UNLV Saturday at noon PST in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU (7-14, 1-5 MWC) travels to face UNLV (9-9, 2-4 MWC) Saturday at noon PST (1 p.m. MST) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The game is an ESPN+Plus telecast available in Utah on KJZZ-TV, channel 14. It is also available via ESPN360 (formerly ESPN Broadband). The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 (KSL.com).

UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS

The Cougars take on San Diego State for the second time this season in a 7 p.m. PST (8 p.m. MST) start Monday night in San Diego. The game will be televised by SportsWest (UPN-Z24 in Utah).

BYU GAME #22 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (7-14, 1-5 MWC) at UNLV REBELS (9-9, 2-4 MWC)

SATURDAY, FEB. 5, 2005

THOMAS & MACK CENTER (18,500)

LAS VEGAS, NEV. 12:04 p.m. PST (1:04 p.m. MST)

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (136-101 in eighth season; same overall)

UNLV, Lon Kruger (9-9 in first season; 327-242 in 19th season overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 9-8 (BYU swept the season series last year with two close victories)

TV:

ESPN+, KJZZ-TV, channel 14, in Salt Lake City (Rich Waltz calls play-by-play with Irv Brown adding analysis)

Also available via ESPN360 (formerly ESPN Broadband)

Radio:

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

Web:

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

COUGAR QUICK HITS

- BYU (7-14, 1-5 MWC) is 5-6 at home, 1-5 away and 1-3 on a neutral floor. BYU's non-league schedule this season included four Pac-10 opponents and two ACC teams. The Cougars have faced three top-25 teams this season (North Carolina, North Carolina State, Utah).

- Seven of BYU's losses have been single-digit setbacks, including five by five points or less and four defeats of three-points or less. All seven BYU wins have been by a margin of 13 points or more.

- With his next victory BYU coach Steve Cleveland will tie Frank Arnold (1975-83) for fourth place on BYU's all-time victory list.

- BYU coach Steve Cleveland has utilized 15 different starting lineups this season in 21 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 as 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 team this year after opting to serve an LDS Church mission. After returning early, he will join BYU next season.

- Senior guard Mike Hall leads BYU in scoring at 13.3 ppg. Sophomore guard Mike Rose adds 9.8 ppg while sophomore point guard Austin Ainge contributes 9.3 ppg. Ainge leads BYU with 4.1 assists (4th in the MWC) and 1.3 steals. Sophomore transfer Keena Young pulls down a team-best 5.8 rebounds with sophomore center Derek Dawes averaging 4.8 rpg and sophomore forward Garner Meads 4.6 rpg.

- BYU shoots .429 from the floor, .361 from three and .742 (No. 1 MWC, 26th nationally) from the line while averaging 67.4 ppg. BYU opponents have shot .432 (FG) and .347 (3FG) while scoring 68.2 ppg. BYU has a slight 35.1 to 35.0 rebounding edge over its opponents on average over the first 21 games.

LOOKING AT UNLV

The Runnin' Rebels are 9-9 on the season and 2-4 in the Mountain West Conference heading into Saturday's game. UNLV owns a 7-3 record on its home floor and defeated Cougar opponent California 73-72 in Berkeley. The Rebels are led by 6-7 senior forward Odartey Blankson, who averages 16.4 points per game, which is sixth in the MWC. A 2004 USBWA All-District VIII Team selection, Blankson is also second on the team and fifth in the league with 8.4 rebounds per game. Senior Romel Beck, an All-MWC Honorable Mention pick last season, is second on the team in scoring with 14.2 ppg, which is eighth in the conference. Senior Jerel Blassingame, another 2004 All-District selection, is third for the Rebels in scoring with 10.8 ppg. The 5-10 guard also leads the league and is 15th in the nation in assists per game, averaging 6.7. Junior Louis Amundson has come on strong this season, averaging 9.7 ppg while leading UNLV in rebounds with 8.7 per outing, which is fourth in the MWC. Amundson, a Player of the Week honoree earlier this year, also leads his team and is third in the league in field goal percentage, making 60.3 percent of his shots from the floor. As a team, UNLV shoots 45 percent from the field, including 34.2 percent from three-point range, while averaging 74.1 points per game, which is second in the conference. The Rebels allow their opponents to shoot 43.2 percent with a 34.2 percent efficiency from beyond the arc while averaging 72.7 points per game. UNLV also leads the league in defensive rebounds, pulling down 26.06 opponent misses per game. First-year Rebel head coach Lon Kruger owns a 327-242 record in his 19th season overall.

LAST OUTING - REBELS FALL TO FALCONS

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Antoine Hood scored 15 points and shot 4-for-4 from the 3-point line Monday night to lead Air Force to a 64-48 win over UNLV. The win extended Air Force's winning streak at home to 24 games, the second longest in the nation. Air Force (14-7, 5-1 Mountain West Conference) won it in the first half with superior 3-point shooting and the nation's No. 1 scoring defense. Air Force made 10 of its first 15 field goal attempts, including 8 of its first 12 3-point attempts to take a 42-24 lead into the break. Nick Welch and Jacob Burtschi added nine points each for the Falcons. The Rebels' Odartey Blankson hit a jumper to pull UNLV to 18-15 with 11:39 left in the first half, but UNLV's next field goal didn't come until Joel Anthony hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Romel Beck led UNLV with 14 points, while Odartey Blankson added 11 points. Air Force outrebounded the Rebels 26-24, despite UNLV (9-9, 2-4) entering the game ranked second in the Mountain West Conference in offensive rebounds while the Falcons were seventh. Air Force finished with a 10-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

UNLV'S PROJECTED STARTERS

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

F 0 Odartey Blankson 6-7 220 Sr. 16.4 8.4

F 22 Louis Amundson 6-9 230 Jr. 9.7 8.7

G 1 Romel Beck 6-7 185 Sr. 14.2 1.9

G 3 Michael Umeh 6-2 185 So. 7.1 1.9

G 10 Jerel Blassingame 5-10 170 Sr. 10.8 2.1

BYU SERIES RECORD VS. UNLV

Overall Series Record: BYU leads 9-8

BYU Record in Provo: 6-2

BYU Record in Las Vegas: 3-6

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0

BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 7-4

BYU Record in Overtime Games: 1-0

Last OT Game: 1981, won in 2OT in Las Vegas, 92-90

Longest BYU Win Streak: 2 (1981, 2000, 2004-present)

Longest UNLV Win Streak: 4 (1981-98)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 28, 91-63 in 2001

Largest UNLV Margin of Victory: 23, 79-56 in 2000

Most Points Scored by BYU: 92 in 1981

Most Points Scored by UNLV: 90 in 1981

SERIES NOTES

This will be the 18th meeting in the series between the two schools that dates back to 1981. The series has been a close one with BYU owning a slight 9-8 advantage by virtue of sweeping the season series last year. The series has been tied six times over the years, and the two teams split the regular season series with home wins each of the prior three years. The one-game edge is only BYU's second advantage in the series. The Cougars won the first two meetings in the series in 1981 before the Rebels ran off four straight victories. Prior to last season, the last time the Cougars swept the regular season series was in 1999-2000. The Rebels came back that year to achieve their largest margin of victory over BYU (23 points) in the title game of the 2000 MWC Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. BYU is 6-2 in Provo against UNLV and 3-6 in Las Vegas against the Rebels. BYU has won seven of the 11 games as MWC opponents.

LAST YEAR AT UNLV -- LEMES LEADS COUGARS TO VICTORY AT UNLV

LAS -- Luiz Lemes dished the ball off to Rafael Araujo who scored the game-winning basket with 0.5 seconds left as BYU beat UNLV 89-88 Saturday in Las Vegas. "I knew Haffa (Araujo) was somewhere, so I looked for him and found him open," Lemes said. "I'm glad I was able to get it to him to give us the win." Lemes scored a career-high 23 points in the win and was one of four Cougars who posted double figures. Araujo added 21 points despite being in foul trouble for most of the game. Kevin Woodberry contributed 13 points, just one short of his season-high, and Mike Hall put 12 points on the board for the Cougars. Araujo also pulled down 13 rebounds to record his 14th double-double of the season. Lemes and Araujo combined for 44 of the Cougars' 89 points. BYU started going 9-12 in the first nine minutes, including 4-6 from beyond the arc. After a 13-4 run gave the Cougars a 23-14 lead, BYU turnovers on four consecutive possessions allowed UNLV to cut the lead to just two points. Then the Rebels did a little scoring of their own, going on an 11-3 run and an 11-2 run that saw the Cougars go scoreless from the field for over four minutes. Kevin Woodberry hit a three-pointer and then two free throws to bring the Cougars back to within two, 44-46, at the half. The second half was an offensive battle as both teams ran the floor trading buckets and neither team led by more than six points. As the score went back and forth, Araujo picked up his third and fourth fouls before the 10-minute mark, the fourth being a technical he received after a hard UNLV foul as he was going up for a put-back basket on one of BYU's 12 offensive rebounds. After sitting for almost six minutes, Araujo came back in for the remainder of the game, scoring the game-winner. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field (BYU .556, UNLV .582). The Cougars made 7-18 (.389) from beyond the arc, including 3-5 from Woodberry -- a vast improvement from their dismal 1-15 three-point shooting night against UNLV in Provo. BYU also out-rebounded the Rebels 32-21, marking the 19th game of the season in which the Cougars have won the rebounding battle. BYU is 16-3 in those games. After completing the regular season 20-7 overall and 10-4 in the Mountain West Conference, the Cougars will now take their eight-game winning streak into Denver, Colo. for Thursday's opening of the MWC Tournament.

WHAT COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME AT UNLV LAST YEAR ...

"I couldn't be more proud of this team. Our mentality is that we've got to keep winning each game. "

LAST YEAR IN PROVO -- HALL'S LATE HEROICS SEAL VICTORY FOR BYU

PROVO -- Mike Hall's block of Demetrius Hunter and two free throws with 2.7 seconds left helped the Cougars seal a 64-61 victory over UNLV Saturday afternoon at the Marriott Center. Cleveland said he was pleased with his team's performance, even though the game wasn't very pretty. He said he felt his team showed a lot of toughness and resolve in winning the close contest. Both teams started the game off cold with BYU making only three field goals in the first 10 minutes, falling behind 10-7, before reeling off a 16-4 run to take a nine-point lead with just over five minutes to play in the first half. During the run, Hall and Rafael Araujo scored six points each while Mark Bigelow added four. The Cougars would extend their lead to 11 points in the opening half before the Rebels cut it back down to nine at the break. UNLV came out of the locker room determined, cutting the BYU's lead to just one at 40-39, before the Cougars ran off nine straight points to extend their advantage to 10 points. But the Rebels were not going to go away. UNLV kept the game close and eventually took the lead at 61-60 on two Odartey Blankson free throws with 41 seconds to go. BYU would reclaim the lead for good at 62-61 on two Bigelow free throws, setting the stage for Hall's heroics to put the game away. BYU shot 87.5 percent from the line, including a perfect 10-for-10 for Hall and 4-of-4 from Luiz Lemes. Araujo led the Cougars in scoring, finishing the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds to record his 12th double-double of the season, and Lemes added a career-high 10 assists. Araujo is now tied for fourth nationally in double-double games, while Lemes becomes the first Cougar to record double-digit assists since BYU all-time assist leader Matt Montague dished out 12 vs. UC Irvine in 2002. On the strength of his free throw shooting, Hall added 16 points while Bigelow chipped in 13. UNLV was led by Blankson's 15-point, 12-rebound performance. J.K. Edwards also added a double-double for the Rebels with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while UNLV point guard Jarel Blassingame scored 12 points and dished out a team-leading five assists. With the victory BYU improves to 3-4 in conference and 13-7 overall, ending a three-game losing skid. UNLV falls to 12-7 and 3-4.

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

"I thought it (Mike Hall's block) was a great individual effort. Someone has to make plays at the end to win a close game. I thought it was the most meaningful play of the game. A win like this means a lot more than coming in and winning by 15 (the Cougars had won their prior eight home games last year by an average of 24 points, with the closest margin being 14). Hopefully something like this will give us the confidence we need to get back playing well."

STREET & SMITH'S NAMES BYU THE No.36 BASKETBALL PROGRAM ALL-TIME

The BYU men's basketball program has been named one of the nation's all-time greatest basketball programs. Street & Smith's has produced a publication (released Jan. 25) recognizing the "100 Greatest College Basketball Programs of All Time," ranking BYU No. 36 on its list. Kentucky is named the No. 1 basketball program, with UCLA, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke completing the top five. Indiana, Louisville, Arkansas, UConn and Cincinnati round out the top 10. Street & Smith's graded each program's basketball history on the basis of NCAA Tournament success, NIT success, national championships, conference regular-season and tournament titles, all-time win-loss percentage, graduation rate, NCAA infractions, NBA first-round draft picks and mascot ferocity. Five Mountain West Conference teams made the list with Utah ranked 11th, UNLV 28th, BYU 36th, Wyoming 42nd and New Mexico 98th. Other in-state schools recognized include Weber State at No. 51 and Utah State at No. 82. Since BYU's first season in 1903, Cougar fans have cheered BYU to 82 winning seasons, 26 conference titles, 21 NCAA invites and 2 NIT titles, while Cougar players have earned 40 All-America and 96 all-conference citations, 43 NBA Draft selections and one National Player of the Year award. BYU entered the season No. 19 all-time in total victories and No. 36 in winning percentage.

DAWES NAMED MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK MONDAY

Sophomore center Derek Dawes earned MWC Player of the Week honors Monday for his career night against New Mexico last week, marking the first award of his career. The 6-foot-11 Dawes set career bests of 14 points, 6-of-7 (.857) shooting, and 4 blocks while tying career marks of 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in the victory. He was also perfect from the free-throw line (2-2) in 32 minutes of action. After his only missed shot of the game, Dawes used his hustle to regain the Cougar possession by stealing a Lobo pass. Dawes' energy and effort in the post led the Cougars to a 68-53 win over the Lobos, their first MWC win of the season. The 14-point, 10-rebound double-double was the first of his career.

YOUNG MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF

Keena Young has scored in double figures the last four games while making a combined 21-of-30 (.700) from the floor. He is averaging 12.0 points and 6.8 rebounds over that span. He tied a career-high 14 points against UNM and AFA. He also scored 14 points against Chaminade and Weber State this year. He recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds vs. Air Force. The transfer has made 11 starts thus far in his first season at Brigham Young. The 6-foot-6 Texan has several different name connections to BYU. Aside from his last name of Young, Keena's father is named Cleveland, also the name of BYU head basketball coach Steve Cleveland, and Keena's mother is named Lavella, which is similar to BYU's legendary football coach LaVell Edwards.

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 13 straight starts. He scored a career-high 25 points at CSU. He had a career-high 7 rebounds vs. Santa Clara and a career-most 8 assists vs. NC State, MSU-Billings and New Mexico. Overall, he is third on the team in scoring at 9.3 ppg and leads the team in assists at 4.1 apg and steals (1.3 spg).

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. 26 nationally in among NCAA statistical leaders.

BYU's LAST OUTING - NO. 21 UTES PULL AWAY IN SECOND HALF

PROVO -- A solid first half was not enough for the Cougars as the University of Utah pulled away to defeat BYU, 72-58, Monday in the Marriott Center in the first of two meetings between the in-state rivals. No. 21 Utah increased its lead to 121-117 in the series, its largest margin ever. BYU Coach Steve Cleveland said his team played a solid first half but made too many mistakes to stay in the game. "The turning point of the game was in the second half," Cleveland said. "We had control of the basketball game but we let it go in the first three or four minutes of the second half. We're not good enough to beat this caliber of team when our whole team isn't playing well." Austin Ainge led three double figure scorers for BYU with 15 points while Jimmy Balderson recorded 13 and Keena Young contributed 10. Ainge added five assists, and Young and Garner Meads had four rebounds each. Four Utes finished with double digits, led by Andrew Bogut's game-high 20. Bryant Markson and Tim Drisdom had 11 points each, and Mark Jackson chipped in 10. Bogut also had a game-high nine rebounds and added four assists. For the game, the Cougars shot 43.2 percent (19-44) while Utah connected on 61.9 percent of its shots (26-42). The Utes also won the rebounding battle, grabbing 27 to BYU's 20. The Cougars did not let Utah's No. 21 ranking intimidate them in the first period as they came out aggressive on both sides of the ball. Derek Dawes gave BYU its first lead at 3-2 with a thunderous dunk off a feed from Ainge. The Utes went ahead at 7-5 before an Ainge three gave the Cougars a lead they would hold for more than nine minutes. Rose hit a three from the corner that was followed by an Ainge turnaround jumper over Bogut, putting BYU up 15-9. Utah chipped its way back into the game with a 5-0 run, cutting the lead to 15-14, but a Balderson layup for the Cougars pushed the lead back to three. The Utes then went on an 8-2 run, capped by layups from Jackson and Bogut to give Utah a 22-19 lead. BYU put together a run of its own with Jared Jensen and Ainge hitting two-point field goals and Balderson nailing a three. A Jensen free throw extended the Cougars' lead to 27-24. Utah took the lead once more on four consecutive free throws by Bogut. Meads came down the floor determined to send his team into the locker room with the lead, rebounding his own miss and putting it back for the 29-28 halftime lead. It marked only the fourth time this season the Utes have gone into the locker room trailing. The shot also made Meads the eighth BYU player to score in the first half. Utah stormed out of the gates in the second period of play, scoring the first four points before Balderson tied the score at 32 with a three pointer from the corner. The Utes then scored seven straight points, forcing a BYU timeout. The timeout did not halt the momentum as Markson kept the run alive by getting a dunk and a three-pointer to put the Utes up 44-32, extend the run to 16-3 and forcing another Cougar timeout. Hall ended the run with a turnaround jumper out of the timeout to pull the Cougars to within 10. But Utah again pulled away, going up by 13 at 54-41. Balderson responded with a three to again cut the lead to 10. BYU would get no closer as the Utes stayed in control the rest of the way to take the game and stay perfect in the Mountain West.

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 0-1

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 0-2

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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