BYU Looks for First MWC Road Win at San Diego State Monday
Coming off a buzzer-beating 73-70 loss at UNLV Saturday, BYU (14-7, 4-4 MWC) stays on the road to face San Diego State (13-10, 2-6) Monday at 7:30 p.m. PT (8:30 MT) at Cox Arena. The game is a SportsWest telecast that will be taped-delay broadcast on KUWB-30 in Salt Lake City. San Diego State is coming off a 70-53 home loss to Utah on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars return home to host New Mexico Saturday at 1 p.m. in an ESPN+Plus (KJZZ, channel 14) contest in the Marriott Center. BYU will then host Air Force on Monday in an 8:30 p.m. start.
Seeking Success on the Road
BYU is seeking its first MWC road victory. The Cougars are 0-4 in conference play on the road. Last year the Cougars arrived in San Diego on Feb. 12, having just lost at UNLV, still looking for their first MWC road win. BYU edged the Aztecs 69-66 to achieve the first of three MWC road victories last year. This year, BYU has lost seven straight road games overall (not including neutral court win over Stanford), despite mostly close contests, including two overtimes and Saturday's 73-70 Rebel win at the final horn. BYU still must go to Wyoming and Colorado State this year.
GAME FACTS (BYU Game 22)
BYU (14-7, 4-4) at San Diego State (13-10, 2-6)
Monday, Feb. 13, 2002
Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl [12,414]
San Diego, Calif.
7:37 p.m. PT / 8:37 p.m. MT
BYU, Steve Cleveland (81-64 in fifth year; same overall)
SDSU, Steve Fisher (32-46 in third year; 216-128 in 11th year overall)
Series: BYU leads, 35-13
SportsWest Productions (KUWB-30 in SLC)
Air Time: 9 p.m. MT -- TAPED DELAY
Play-by-Play: Dave McCann
Game Analyst: Blaine Fowler
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time -6:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. MT
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Brian Santiago
Web: Live audio on KSL.com
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Mark Bigelow 6-7 190 So. 16.0 3.0
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-9 215 Sr. 10.1 4.7
C 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 245 Fr. 9.4 3.9
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Jr. 15.5 6.9
G 31 Matt Montague 6-0 190 Sr. 6.1 7.6 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 20 Daniel Bobik 6-6 205 So. 7.5 2.7
G 22 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 200 Fr. 4.4 1.7
C 42 Jon Carlisle 6-10 250 So. 1.9 1.8
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 So. 1.1 1.7
C 40 Dan Howard 7-0 225 So. 0.6 0.9
G 10 Terry Nashif 5-10 165 Fr. 0.4 0.6 apg
F 4 Jesse Pinegar 6-9 225 Fr. 0.4 0.6
San Diego State is 13-10 and 2-6 in conference play after its 70-53 loss to Utah at home Saturday. SDSU played the game without Aztec coach Steve Fisher, who was in Illinois with his ailing mother. It is not certain if he will coach the Aztecs against BYU on Monday. The Aztecs are 9-3 at home and 3-7 on the road overall. In conference play, SDSU is 1-3 at Cox Arena and 1-3 on the road. In the first half of MWC play, SDSU's conference wins were over Colorado State (81-69) and at New Mexico (78-65), while its losses were at BYU (75-64), at Utah (76-70), at Air Force (67-54), vs. Wyoming (88-85 OT) and vs. UNLV (80-79). The Aztecs also won a nonconference game at home over Houston (78-66) on Jan. 29. The Aztecs posted an 11-4 nonconference record this season, including a 13-point loss to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Aztecs played two nonconference teams also on BYU's schedule. The Aztecs defeated CS Northridge (80-70) at home, but lost at the University of San Diego (72-67). BYU also defeated CSUN (84-70) at home while earning its only road win of the year in the season-opener at USD (70-59). San Diego State is 21-7 against non-Mountain West Conference competition since the beginning of the 2000-01 season. San Diego State is 27-23 since the beginning of the 2000-01 season. The improvement is evident when looking back at the 96 games prior to the 2000-01 season when SDSU went 24-72. SDSU has had two three-game winning streaks in this season, the last streak ending with the loss to BYU in Provo. It is the first time since the 1996-97 campaign that SDSU has had two three-game streaks in the same season. It is also the latest in the season the Aztecs have won at least three consecutive regular-season games since the 1988-89 campaign. Three Aztecs are the top three scoreres in the MWC and four average double figures -- Randy Holcomb (17.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg), Tony Bland (16.8 ppg) and Al Faux (16.8 ppg), Mike Mackell (10.7 ppg), SDSU Coach Steve Fisher (Illinois State, 1967) is in his third season at San Diego State with a record of 32-46. Now in his 11th full season he has amassed a 216-128 mark. Fisher led Michigan to the 1989 national championship and made three trips to the national championship game in his eight full seasons in Ann Arbor. The 1991-92 national coach of the year led the Aztecs to a 14-14 mark last year.
SDSU's Last Outing
Jeff Johnsen scored 20 points and Phil Cullen had 14 of his 18 points in the decisive first half as Utah beat San Diego State 70-53 on Saturday. Utah (17-4, 7-1 Mountain West Conference) dominated after the first six minutes, taking a 42-23 halftime lead and hanging on to beat San Diego State for the 13th straight time. Cullen came off the bench to sink all four of his 3-point shots in the first half. The Utes sank 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the first and finished 12-for-25. Johnsen hit 5-of-9 3-pointers. Randy Holcomb led San Diego State (13-10, 2-6) with 14 points, but made just 5-of-18 shots. Utah's smothering defense held the Aztecs to a season-low 29.3 percent shooting (17-of-58) and their lowest point total of the season. Trailing 12-10 with 14:25 left in the first half, the Utes went on a 23-5 run to take a 33-17 lead. Cullen hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the run. San Diego State played without coach Steve Fisher, who traveled to Illinois on Tuesday to be with his ailing mother. Assistant coach Brian Dutcher took over Fisher's duties.
BYU leads the overall series 35-13 and has won the last eight games in the series since losing in Provo, 89-86 in overtime on Dec. 31, 1996, during the 1-25 season of 1996-97. The last meeting in San Diego, a 69-66 BYU win at Cox Arena, was the closest contest in the last eight outings. Coach Steve Cleveland is undefeated against San Diego State (8-0), making the Aztecs the only conference team yet to beat a Cleveland-coached Cougar squad. BYU is 14-11 in San Diego since the series began in 1941.
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 35-13
BYU Record in Provo: 21-2
BYU Record in San Diego: 14-11
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 8-0
Longest BYU Win Streak: 11 (1990-95)
Longest SDSU Win Streak: 3 (1941-77)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 40, 106-66 in 1982
Largest SDSU Margin of Victory: 19, 89-70 in 1985
Most Points Scored by BYU: 123 in 1980
Most Points Scored by SDSU: 104 in 1977
RECENT SERIES RECAPS
Jensen Lifts Cougars to Victory over SDSU in MWC Opener
PROVO -- The BYU men's basketball team began its conference season with a solid 75-64 win over the San Diego State University Aztecs Saturday night in front of an energized crowd at the Marriott Center in Provo. "The first thing that comes to mind is that tonight's game is the way a conference game is and this was a really, really good team that we played," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "They are talented, they are well coached and they are very difficult to guard." The Cougars (11-3, 1-0) trailed 4-0 early on but took the lead 5-4 at the 16:45 mark of the first half and never trailed again. San Diego (10-5, 0-1) stuck close to BYU, however, trailing only 63-59 with 3:18 remaining in the game. "We still had chances and I think we still have to do a better job -- all of us," said SDSU head coach Steve Fisher. "Against a good team like BYU, if you don't play close to your best, you're not going to win." The Cougars secured the win with solid ball handling and 9-of-11 shooting from the free throw line in the last three minutes. "These are tough games and I just can't say enough about how important the last four or five minutes of ball possession meant to us," said Cleveland. BYU got a lift from the 19,411 fans who crowded into the Marriott Center, the largest crowd to attend a game since Jan. 15, 2000, when 22,580 fans jammed together to see the Cougars play Utah. "We got great energy from the crowd and we got a great effort from our iron men down the stretch," Cleveland said. The Cougars were sparked by the solid play of center Jared Jensen, who contributed a then career-high 17 points and played solid defense against the talented Aztecs. "They have a lot of players that can hurt you, and Jared's effort tonight was probably the difference maker in the game," coach Cleveland said. Coach Fisher added, "At halftime we talked about the 'X' factor being Jensen. You can't let him get double figures in the first half." The Cougars' scoring was balanced, headed by BYU guard Travis Hansen's 19 points. Mark Bigelow added 13 points. Eric Nielsen poured in 11 points while point guard Matt Montague led the team with eight rebounds and six assists. Montague also scored eight points, three coming from a stunning NBA-distance three-pointer to beat the shot clock with 5:26 to play in the first half. Not known for his long-range shooting, Montague made a three-pointer for the third consecutive game for the first time in his career. He made a three-pointer two games in a row twice during his freshman year. The first half saw BYU consistently maintain a 10-point lead as the two teams battled back and forth throughout. The Cougars had a seven-point edge at halftime, a lead they pushed to 54-37 with 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Aztecs battled back with scrappy play and solid rebounding, grabbing a total of 44 rebounds against BYU's 28. Four consecutive points by Aztec forward Randy Holcomb, who led all scorers with 21 points, brought the Aztecs within four with 3:18 remaining, but they would not get any closer. BYU held San Diego State to 37 percent shooting. BYU shot 45 percent for the game.
BYU Edged SDSU 69-66 To Earn Its First Conference Road Victory Last Year
SAN DIEGO -- Trent Whiting and Mekeli Wesley scored 21 points each Monday to lead BYU to its first conference road win of the season. The Cougars defeated San Diego State 69-66 at Cox Arena to improve to 17-7 overall and 6-3 in Mountain West play. "San Diego State played with purpose, took care of the ball and defended us better than they ever have," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "The character of this (BYU) team showed in the last 20 minutes. Mekeli and Trent made some big shots and Terrell (Lyday) was playing on one leg. I am proud of their effort. In order to win on the road you have to make plays." The game was tight throughout with nine lead changes and 10 ties but the Cougars were able to make the big plays down the stretch to earn the breakthrough road victory. After the Aztecs scored the first bucket of the second half to take their biggest lead of the game at 33-24, Wesley and Whiting went to work scoring six points apiece to help the Cougars narrow the gap to 40-38 with 15 minutes remaining. BYU was finally able to even the score at 48 when Nate Knight took a feed from Wesley for an easy lay-in at the 10:18 mark. A little over two minutes later BYU took its first lead since the opening minute of the game when Whiting made two free throws to give BYU a 52-50 advantage. While BYU had failed to make plays at the end its three conference road losses this year, this time around Cougar players came through in the clutch. With the Aztecs leading 63-62, Nathan Cooper dove to the ground for a loose ball to end a San Diego State possession and prevent the Aztecs from building on their slim lead. Whiting put the Cougars back on top for good at 65-63 by hitting his third three of the game with just over a minute remaining. A steal by Eric Nielsen after a San Diego State defensive rebound forced San Diego State to foul, with Wesley and Whiting each making free throws to seal the Cougar win. "I think it is obvious at halftime that they decided to be more aggressive on the offensive end," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "They did a better job of going to Mekeli and we didn't do as good a job of running at him." The fourth rated free throw shooting team in the nation, BYU went 19-20 from the line while shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent on three-point attempts. After Wesley and Whiting's game-high 21 points, Lyday added 11 and Nielsen and Daniel Bobik chipped in six points apiece. Whiting pulled down a game-high seven rebounds. San Diego State shot a strong 51.1 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent on threes, while also missing only once from the line, going 15-16 from the charity stripe. It was the first time this year the Aztecs have shot better than 50 percent and lost and the first time BYU has won a game in which the opponent has made 50 percent from the floor. The Cougars have only allowed five teams to make half of their shots in a game this year. Marcelo Correa scored 18 points to led the Aztecs with Al Faux and Randy Holcomb contributing 15 and 13 points, respectively. Myron Epps pulled down a team-high six rebounds. The Aztecs are now 1-8 in conference play and 11-11 overall.
SDSU Quick Facts:
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Colors: Scarlet and Black
Home Arena: Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl
Conference: Mountain West
Athletic Director: Rick Bay
Head Coach: Steve Fisher
Alma Mater: Illinois State (1967)
Best time to call: Contact SID
Office Phone: (619) 594-6249
Overall Record (Years): 216-128 (11th)
Record at School (Years): 32-46 (3rd)
Assistant Coaches: Brian Dutcher, Marvin Menzies, Jim Tomey
Overall Record: 14-14
Conf. Record/Finish: 4-10/7th
Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: NA
Letterman Returning/Lost: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
Returning Starters (last year's stats)
Myron Epps, 6-6, 210, Sr., F (11.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Randy Holcomb, 6-9, 219, Sr., F (15.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Deandre Moore, 5-9, 179, Jr., G (6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Al Faux, 6-2, 186, Sr., G (10.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
Basketball Contact: Mike May
Office: (619) 594-5547
Home: (619) 265-2375
Fax: (619) 582-6541
Press Row: (619) 265-5853
Athletics Web Site
Cougar Comeback Falls Short as UNLV Hits Shot at the Buzzer Saturday
LAS -- BYU's comeback effort fell one shot short when UNLV's Vince Booker hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to help the Rebels defeat BYU 73-70 in Las Vegas. The Cougars (14-7, 4-4) fought back after being down by as many as 16 points to tie the game at 70 with 15 seconds remaining on a Jared Jensen lay-in. Jensen finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds, continuing his consistent conference play. "We have not found a way to win the close games on the road," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "We played 30 good minutes of basketball. We really competed well in the second half and played with a lot of heart." "It's such a heart breaker because you put all the effort into coming back into the game," added BYU forward Bart Jepsen, whose 22 key minutes helped the Cougars back into the game. For the final play of the game, UNLV point guard Marcus Banks held the ball for 10 seconds before he drove to the basket, ultimately passing the ball out to Booker who then hit the game-winning shot. "Everyone was worried about helping on Banks," Jepsen said. "I think we did the right thing. Unfortunately, he was able to find Booker in the corner." BYU shot 61 percent from the field in the second half but missed free throws at key points hurt the Cougars. Although BYU made 15-of-20 attempts, many of those misses were front-end shots on one-and-one opportunities. "To win on the road, you have to rebound and make free throws and those are two things we didn't do well in the last few minutes of the game," Cleveland said. The Cougars fought back to bring the game within one, 54-53, after a Matt Montague drive and pass to Jepsen who finished the play with a dunk. UNLV (12-8, 4-4) then went on a 6-0 run before Eric Nielsen turned a three-point play to bring BYU back within three, 69-66. Nielsen has shot well in Las Vegas throughout his career, making 24-36 (67%) at the Thomas & Mack Center over the last two years of his career. Hansen then made a three-pointer to again bring the Cougars within one, 60-59 with 6:30 remaining. After UNLV made the score 65-62, Nielsen was hit in the mouth, chipping his tooth and was briefly knocked out at the 4:13 mark. He left the game with a concussion after contributing 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The score was 69-66 before Hansen stole the ball and made two free throws after being fouled on the breakaway, making the score 69-68 with 1:20 remaining. Hansen finished with 21 points in 23 minutes as he spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble. Jensen's put back made it 70-70 before Booker's three-pointer dashed the Cougars' hopes of victory. Mark Bigelow finished with 13 points. UNLV started the game with a hot and consistent hand, making the first five shots they took to build an 11-5 lead. By the time Las Vegas had built the lead to 21-6, the Runnin' Rebels were nine for 11 while BYU had only made two of 13 shot attempts. A three-point play by Hansen again brought the Cougars within nine, 32-23, but the Rebels then went on a run of their own to increase their lead to 16 points, 43-27. Jimmy Balderson made four consecutive free throws to bring the score to 43-31 at the 1:20 mark where it would remain for the rest of the half. The Cougars made only 11-of-31 shots (36 percent) compared to UNLV's 17-of-31 (55 percent) from the field in the first half.
BYU Had Worst Shooting Night, Held On to Beat Colorado State Monday
PROVO -- BYU held on for its 32nd consecutive win in the Marriott Center, narrowly escaping with a 57-52 win over physical Colorado State team. Mark Bigelow continued to resurface for BYU, leading the Cougars with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from downtown. Bigelow's four long-range buckets are the most for him in conference play, just one short of his career high of five. Bigelow scored 20 for the first time since going for 20 against Southern Utah on Dec. 29. "Bigelow was the difference in my mind," Colorado State head coach Dale Layer said. "We would make some runs at them but he would come back, get a good look and make the big shot." The Cougars, rated third in the nation in free throw percentage, struggled from the line throughout the second half, shooting 11-for-20 from the stripe to keep the game close. BYU finished the game 21-of-31 from the line, only the second time this season the team has shot below 70 percent in a game. The team also overcame a poor night from the field, hitting a season-low 37.5 percent. Before the game, BYU's lowest percentage from the Marriott Center floor this year had been 42.9 percent, against San Francisco on Jan. 2 and also against UNLV on Jan. 15. The game was not decided until the final minute, when Bart Jepsen blocked a Brian Greene shot that would have put the Rams within one. After Jepsen's block, Eric Nielsen went to the line and sank two free throws with 22 seconds left, giving the Cougars the victory. "I thought, defensively, we did a very good job guarding them," associate head coach Dave Rose said. "Bart Jepsen was huge in the final minutes because he attacked the penetration. His blocked shot in the final minute was critical for us." For the second consecutive game, Matt Montague had double-digit assists, finishing with 11. The feat marks the first time in his career Montague has had back-to-back games with more than 10 assists. Travis Hansen also had a good night, finishing with 17 points on 5-9 shooting. Hansen and Bigelow tied for the team lead in rebounds with five apiece. The teams went into the break deadlocked at 30 but BYU responded in the second half, pushing its lead to as many as six points. The Rams made several runs to keep the score close but the Cougars responded with big buckets to maintain the lead. BYU never trailed in the second half and only trailed twice in the game. A Travis Hansen three with 1:30 left in the first half gave the Cougars a 28-26 lead and the team never trailed from there. The win pushes BYU's record to 9-0 when it holds its opponents to less than 60 points in a game.
At Cox Arena
BYU is 4-1 at Cox Arena since it opened for the 1997-98 season. BYU defeated the Aztecs in the first game ever played at Cox Arena, winning 73-59 on Nov. 14, 1997 in the season opener. The game was BYU coach Steve Cleveland's first game as the Cougars' coach. BYU is 4-0 against San Diego State at Cox Arena. BYU's lone loss was in its last visit to Cox Arena when the Cougars fell to Cincinnati in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament.
BYU is shooting 49.3 percent in its 14 victories and 43.7 percent in its five losses. The Cougars are shooting .499 at home and .441 on the road. BYU has shot at least 45 percent in 14 games this year. BYU has shot 50 percent or better four times this year and is making 47.3 percent from the floor overall.
From Three-Point Range
BYU is shooting 39.4 percent on threes. BYU's 57.1 percent from three-point range vs. Wyoming was its second highest mark from downtown this season. BYU made six treys vs. CSU and eight threes against the Cowboys -- the first time since equaling a season-high 11 treys vs. Southern Utah on Dec. 29 that BYU has made more than five threes in a game. BYU made eight three pointers in the first half (season best) against SUU. 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. Mark Bigelow has made a team-high 49 threes (.430) and made a three in 19 of 21 games this year (including a BYU-record 22 straight games dating back to his freshman season). Travis Hansen has made 26 treys (.433) and Daniel Bobik has made 23 (.377).
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 18 of 21 games and Hansen has been in double-digits in 16 of 21 games. The only game this year when neither player reached double-digit points was at UNM. Hansen had a team-high 21 at UNLV. He had 22 points at Utah after a season-low five points at Air Force. Bigelow equaled a season-low four points at Utah, but responded to share game-high honors with Hansen vs. Wyoming with 19. Overall, Bigelow averages 16.0 ppg and Hansen 15.5 ppg.
Other Scoring Options
The Cougars have three players scoring in double figure points. After leaders Mark Bigelow (16.0) and Travis Hansen (15.5), senior Eric Nielsen averages 10.1 ppg and has scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford. He has scored in double-digits in eight of his last nine starts and eight of the last 10 games. In addition, freshman center Jared Jensen is averaging 9.4 ppg and had a career-high 20 points at Air Force. Reserve guard Daniel Bobik is adding 7.5 ppg off the bench and has twice scored highs of 17 points. Freshman guard Jimmy Balderson has reached double figures three times with a high of 19 points while point guard Matt Montague has reached double digits four times, including a season-high 13 points at Utah.
In the first 11 games this year BYU started with a 9-2 record as Mark Bigelow shot 46.9 percent, Travis Hansen 46.0 percent, and Daniel Bobik 45.2 percent. BYU was 3-4 over the next seven games, however, as Bigelow went 24-71 (.338) Hansen 31-83 (.373), and Daniel Bobik 14-40 (.350). In the last two home games, both wins, the perimeter shooting returned. Bigelow made 15-24 (.625) Hansen 13-21 (.619) and Bobik 2-4 (.500). At UNLV, Hansen was 6-12, Bigelow 4-11 and Bobik 1-3.
Numbers at the Line
BYU is shooting 77.6 percent from the line for the year. Last year, BYU led the nation at 78 percent from the line. This year the Cougars are second nationally. Since shooting its worst percentage from the line at UNM, making only 7-12 free throws (.583), BYU shot 82.6 percent (Air Force) and 86.7 percent (Utah) and 81.8 percent (Wyo) before suffering only its second game below 70 percent at 66.7 percent vs. CSU. BYU shot 75 percent at UNLV.
Bobik, Hansen Made Run at Consecutive Free Throw Record
Daniel Bobik made 27 consecutive free throws before missing his last attempt (3-4) at Utah. His string of successes spanned 17 games, last missing in the second game vs. Arizona State. The BYU record is 32 set by Michael Smith. Travis Hansen reaching 23 straight makes this year until missing on his fourth attempt vs. SDSU. Bobik is 8th nationally at 92.1 percent.
Six Seeing Majority of Minutes
Six players play the majority of the minutes for BYU coach Steve Cleveland. Only Daniel Bobik averages double-digit minutes off the bench. Four starters, Matt Montague, Eric Nielsen, Mark Bigelow and Travis Hansen average more than 30 minutes a game, with Montague playing a team-high 37.2 minutes per outing. Players who could likely see some more time off the bench depending on matchups include Bart Jepsen and Jon Carlisle in the post and Jimmy Balderson on the perimeter. With reserve point guard Shawn Opunui out with an injury, BYU suits up 12 players.
Montague is BYU Energizer, Keeps on Going, and Going
The guttiest player on the team, senior point guard Matt Montague averages a team-leading 37.2 minutes per game. While playing nearly the entire game, he is second nationally in assists (7.6), dishing out 159 assists to only 51 turnovers. In MWC play, he averages 8.1 assists, making 65 assists while only commiting 20 turnovers. He leads the league in assist/turnover ratio. He is also averaging a career-best 4.5 rpg.
BYU had its two-game win streak halted at UNLV Saturday. BYU has lost seven straight road games (not including the Stanford win on a neutral court) since opening the season with a win at the University of San Diego. BYU's longest losing streak of the year is three games, its first in Mountain West play and its first three-game slide since February 1999 when BYU lost at Fresno State, San Jose State (OT) and vs. New Mexico in Provo as a member of the WAC. BYU's road losses include Utah State (OT), UCSB, Pepperdine (OT), UNM, AFA, Utah and UNLV (at the buzzer). Including this year, the Cougars have had eight two-game losing streaks since losing the three straight in 1999. 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. BYU has won 32 consecutive home games.
Home Winning Streak
BYU has a 32-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 39 straight wins at home (Detriot at home again on Feb. 11). BYU is 12-0 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 14 straight at home over MWC teams.
Hitting the Glass
The Cougars have only been out rebounded six times overall this year but have been out boarded in five of eight MWC games. UNLV edged BYU 35-32 Saturday. BYU and CSU each had 30 rebounds Monday. BYU's low on the glass 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 13 of 20 games, earning a 11-2 record when winning the battle of the boards. Overall, BYU averages 34.4 rebounds while its opponents grab on average 30.8. 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 (6.9) and point guard Matt Montague is third at 4.5. Eric Nielsen is second at 4.7. Hansen has had highs of 17 and 15 rebounds and had an 11-board effort at Utah. Montague has grabbed six or more rebounds in eight of the last 13 games.
BYU ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.414) and first in three-point percentage defense (.293). 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 to the Lobos at The Pit and 54.3 percent to Air Force -- the two highest highest percentages allowed by BYU this year. The Cougars stepped up their defense against Utah, who was shooting 60 percent from three-point range over the first four MWC games. BYU held the Utes to 42 percent overall, including 22 percent on threes. Wyoming shot 45 percent, CSU 42.6 percent and UNLV 46.7 percent. Only three teams have shot better than 50 percent against BYU. The Cougars have held nine opponents this year below 40 percent shooting while only six teams have shot better than 45 percent against BYU (Arizona State, .462; Utah State, .509 and New Mexico, .536; AFA, .543; Wyoming, .453; UNLV, .467).
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. Unlike many schools, BYU's announced attendance is actual attendance instead of paid attendance.
From the Training Room
Senior Eric Nielsen was knocked out momentarily during Saturday's game at UNLV. His tooth was chipped and he had his lip stitched. A CT scan revealed no swelling or bleeding on the brain so he should be able to play Monday. Matt Montague and Travis Hansen are playing with groin-pull injuries. Hansen also has a deep pull in his hip flexor. Montague also broke his nose during practice on Christmas day. He did not miss any playing time. Nielsen did not start at Air Force due to illness. After playing only four games, reserve point guard Shawn Opunui could likely be out the remainder of the season with torn ligaments in his left thumb. After getting out of a hard cast, he wears a splint and is doing therapy.
Cougars at the Mid-Point in Conference Play
BYU was 4-3 after the first half of conference play. The Cougars were 2-5 after seven games in 1998, 3-4 in 1999, 4-3 in 1999 and 5-2 last year in league action. BYU opened the second half at UNLV last year, falling to 5-3 with a loss. Like this season, BYU was last 4-4 after eight games in 2000.
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 Games Overall
After the loss at UNLV, Cleveland's conference (WAC/MWC) record is 31-33. After three conference road losses at New Mexico, Air Force and Utah, Cleveland's conference record dropped below .500 after he had reached a .500 mark with the UNLV win in Provo. Taking over after BYU's 1-25 season, Cleveland has improved BYU's conference record each year. The UNLV win in Provo marked was the first time since a 2-2 mark early in his first season that Cleveland reached .500 in conference play. Overall, he has been at .500 three times (1-1, 2-2, 29-29) and has had a winning mark twice (1-0, 2-1). Cleveland has a 20-15 (.571) MWC record.
MATT MONTAGUE / 6-0 Â• 190 Â• senior Â• point guard
Â• Montague provides leadership at the point having started 78 times and played in all 113 games in his fourth year. He has led the team in assists during each of his four seasons.
Â• He recorded double-digit assists in back-to-back games for the first time in his career, with 15 (vs. Wyo.) and 11(vs. CSU). He has had 10 or more assists in six games this year and nine times in his career.
Â• He averages a MWC-best 7.6 assists per game on the year and is 2nd in assists in the national statistics. He tops the MWC in assist/turnover ratio. He has 159 assists and 51 turnovers. He had15 assists vs. Wyoming, equaling the career-high he had vs. Idaho. It is the most assists by a Cougar in the last 25 years. The BYU and Marriott Center record is 16 assists set by Mike May vs. Niagara in 1976.
Â• Montague scored a season-high 13 points at Utah and has reached double figures points in four games this year.
Â• He made a career-best eight free throws to seal the win for BYU vs. Stanford.
Â• Since grabbing a seven rebounds vs. Stanford, Montague had a season-high 8 rebounds vs. SDSU and three other seven rebound games, including seven boards at Utah. He has collected six or more rebounds in eight of the last 13 games. At 6-foot, he is third on the team in rebounding average at 4.5.
Â• He did not score in a game for the first time this season, going 0-3 at UNLV Saturday.
TRAVIS HANSEN / 6-6 Â• 210 Â• junior Â• guard/forward
Â• Hansen played a supporting role in his first season at BYU last year and missed part of the year with injury.
Â• This year he is BYU's second-leading scorer with a 15.5 average and grabs a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.
Â• Hansen has paced the Cougars in scoring over the last four games, averaging 19.8 ppg in those games. He has led BYU in scoring eight times overall this year, including 21 points at UNLV Saturday.
Â• Hansen rebounded from a season-low 5 points at Air Force with a game-high 22 points at Utah.
Â• He has reached double-digit points in 16 of 21 games.
Â• He averaged a double-double against league leaders Utah and Wyoming (20.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg).
Â• He had his team-leading fourth double-double of the year vs. Utah with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Against Pepperdine he had career highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds. 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.
Â• He played a key defensive role against first-team All-American Casey Jacobsen of Stanford. He is usually given the assignment to guard the option's best perimeter player.
Â• After going 8-8 at Utah from the line, he went 7-14 in the next two games before an 8-10 night at UNLV.
MARK BIGELOW / 6-7 Â• 190 Â• sophomore Â• guard/forward
Â• Bigelow was BYU's leading scorer (15.0) and rebounder (6.3) in 1998-99 before going on a two-year LDS Church mission to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He is still working to regain his pre-mission conditioning and strength.
Â• He leads BYU in scoring at 16.0 ppg and has scored at least 13 points in 18 of 21 games. He has five 20 or more points games this year, including a BYU season-high 31 vs. ASU. He reached double figures in 14 straight games before his season-low four points at UNM. He also had four points at Utah, taking a season-low one three-point attempt.
Â• After averaging 18.3 ppg over the first 11 games and shooting .469 from the floor, capped by shooting 17-34 and totaling 27 and 20 points against CS Northridge and Southern Utah, Bigelow went 24-71 (.338) over the next seven games, including 8-32(.250) on threes while averaging 11.7 ppg over the stretch. In the last three games, however, he has shot better, going 19-35 (.543) from the floor and and 10-18 (.556) on threes, averaging 17.3 ppg.
Â• Bigelow made two three-pointers vs. UNLV in Provo to set a BYU record with 22 consecutive games with a trey. His string ended the next game at UNM. 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 of 21 games (1999-2000). Bigelow has made two or more threes in 14 games this year, including a career-equaling 5 treys vs. Southern Utah. He had four threes vs. CSU, a conference-season high, and three at UNLV on Saturday.
ERIC NIELSEN / 6-9 Â• 215 Â• senior Â• forward
Â• A four-year starter, Nielsen is the onlystarter back from last year's NCAA team. An intelligent player with a good mid-range jumper, his 55.7 career field goal percentage (318-571) is 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. Since returning from his mission, Nielsen has played three seasons for coach Cleveland, helping the Cougars earn a combined 60-27 (.690) record to date, including two postseason tournament berths. He is Academic All-MWC and a Cougar Scholar Athlete.
Â• Nielsen is third on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg), second in rebounding (4.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (.541).
Â• He had 14 points at UNLV before being forced out of the game after being knocked out momentary. He had 7 points vs. CSU, going only 2-8 from the floor, to end a string of seven straight starts in double figures. He has scored in double figures in 8 of the last 10 games. He has reached double digits 12 times this year.
Â• He was sick and did not start for the first time this year at Air Force, playing 20 minutes with three free throws.
Â• 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.
Â• He has taken 159 shots this year, two more than his previous season high of 157 as a freshman. Last year the most shots he took in a game was eight, when he averaged 3.8 attempts per game. This year he is averaging 7.6 attempts.
Â• Nielsen fouled out for the first time this year at Utah (with 8:36 remaining). He had fouled out of 26 of 92 games (every 3.5 games) over his first three seasons (10 times as a freshman, 7 times as a sophomore and 9 times last year).
Â• His tooth was chipped and he had his lip stitched after an accidental elbow to the face at UNLV. A CT scan revealed no swelling or bleeding on the brain so he should be able to play Monday.
JARED JENSEN / 6-9 Â• 245 Â• freshman Â• center
Â• 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.
Â• He is fourth on the team overall at 9.4 ppg. In MWC games, he is third on the team at 11.0 ppg.
Â• He is shooting a team-leading and MWC-best 60.9 percent from the floor.
Â• He has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 15 games and11 times overall this year. He has played well since reaching double-digit points only once in his first six games while averaged 6.5 ppg.
Â• Jensen had 12 points at UNLV, tying a career-best six field goals while grabbing a career-best 6 offensive rebounds. He went 0-2 from the floor vs. CSU last Monday, only the third time this year he has not connected from the floor.
Â• He scored 10 points vs.Wyoming, going 4-8, including several jumpers. Against Utah, he got in foul trouble and played only seven minutes because of matchups at Utah and did not score for only the second time this year.
Â• He scored a career-high 20 points at AFA after scoring a team-high 15 points at UNM.
Â• Jensen had his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds vs. CS Northridge. He also had a career-best 10 boards vs. Creighton.
DANIEL BOBIK / 6-6 Â• 205 Â• sophomoreÂ• guard
Â• Last year Daniel Bobik averaged 3.5 points and 10.4 minutes while playing in 28 of 33 games as a freshman. Bobik plays the sixth-man role this year.
Â• Bobik is fifth on the team in scoring (7.5). He has scored in double digits in seven games, including two MWC games. He had 10 at Utah and 11 at New Mexico. At UNM, he went 4-6 from the floor, a career-best .667 percentage, with 11 points. He scored on back-to-back ally-oop layins. He reached double digits in three straight games with a career-high 17 against Idaho, 10 against Stanford and 17 again vs. CS Northridge.
Â• He had a career-best 8 rebounds vs. Creighton.
Â• He has seen the fewest minutes of the year in the last three games, played a season-low 13 minutes vs. CSU Monday after 15 minutes vs. Wyoming. He played 16 minutes at UNLV. He averages 20.8 minutes overall. He played a career-high 33 minutes with 12 points and four rebounds in the season-opener at USD.
Â• With Eric Nielsen sick, he made his first career start at Air Force, playing 21 minutes, taking only one shot and scoring two points.
Â• He had eight points at Pepperdine in front of many of his family and friends from nearby Newbury Park.
Â• He shoots a MWC-best 92.1 percent (T-8th nationally) from the line and had a string of 27 straight free throws until missing his last attempt at Utah (The all-time BYU record is 32, set by Michael Smith). Bobik's free throw string extended over 17 games (streak began vs. Arizona State). He set career bests with in free throws made, attempted and percentage going 8-8 vs. Cal State Northridge.
BART JEPSEN / 6-9 Â• 235 Â• redshirt sophomore Â• forward
Â• Jepsen redshirted last season after returning from an LDS Church mission. He is 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.
Â• Jepsen has appeared in every game this year off the bench, joining Bobik as only reserves to play in every game.
Â• He blocked Brian Greene's shot with seconds left to help BYU preserve its three-point lead over CSU on Monday. It was his third blocked shot of the year.
Â• After playing double-digit minutes in five of first seven games, he has only played 10 or more minutes in four of the last 14 games, but played a season-high 22 minutes at UNLV Saturday (also played 22 minutes at Utah State).
Â• 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.
Â• His rebound high is 6 vs. Arizona State.
JESSE PINEGAR / 6-9 Â• 220 Â• redshirt freshman Â• forward
Â• Pinegar has played in five games since being cleared by doctors in December (due to shoulder surgery in June). It was his first action since his junior year of high school. He sat out his senior year of high school after shoulder surgery and then redshirted last season at BYU. He injured his shoulder again this summer and had surgery in June.
Â• 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.
Â• He has not appeared in any conference games.
Â• 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 role for BYU this season but again injured his left (non dominant) shoulder in June. He is a mobile, athletic player, who has excellent range beyond the three-point line. He made significant strides in the weight room last season before the injury.
Â• He no longer has pain in his shoulder but remains behind in his conditioning and strength and will likely not factor into the regular rotation this season.
DAN HOWARD / 7-0 Â• 225 Â• sophomore Â• center
Â• The tallest player on the roster, he has a nice touch for a big man. Howard played in 14 games last year in limited action.
Â• Howard has appeared in 12 games overall this season.
Â• He played against CSU and Wyoming in conference play.
Â• He started the season-opener at USD, the first start of his career. He played seven minutes, with one rebound.
Â• He played 2 minutes vs. Stanford with one rebound.
Â• 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 a season-high 12 minutes at San Francisco).
Â• He is a career 10-15 from the floor in his two seasons, including 2-4 this year.
JON CARLISLE / 6-10 Â• 250 Â• sophomore Â• center
Â• 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.
Â• 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. He has been a spark in the post at times, giving the Cougars a solid effort during his limited time.
Â• Carlisle has played in 16 games, including the last 15 straight. He has grabbed a rebound in every game he has played except at Air Force and CSU and has scored in nine of his 16 games.
Â• He is 10-20(.500) from the floor.
Â• He played a season-high 19 minutes vs. Wyoming, scoring a career-high 8 points.
Â• He has played double-digit minutes four times. He played 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 Â• He had two blocks, one rebound and dove on the floor to create a BYU possession resulting in a Matt Montague layin in only seven minutes at Utah. He had four points and season-high four boards in 13 minutes at UNM. He also had four rebounds in eight minutes vs. SDSU. He was BYU's second-leading rebounder vs. SDSU.
JIMMY BALDERSON / 6-6 Â• 200 Â• freshman Â• guard
Â• Balderson averaged 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists at Magrath High School in Alberta, Canada, where he shot 54 percent from the floor and 91 percent from the line. He has excellent range from the three-point line and good size. He plans to leave in the spring on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Â• Balderson shoots 50 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent on threes. More than half of his attempts are three-point shots.
Â• He scored six points in five minutes vs. Wyoming on a three-pointer and a spectacular oldfashion three-point play on a reverse layin. He played four minutes vs. CSU and did not score for the first time in five games. He had 4 points at UNLV.
Â• Balderson has played in 18 games. Since playing 1 minutes against SDSU and UNLV in BYU's first two conference games, he has averaged 10.2 minutes in the last six league outings, including a season-high 23 minutes at Air Force.
Â• He scored 14 points at Air Force, his highest total vs. a Division I team. He has reached double figures three times. He scored 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.
Â• He hit the game-tying trey from the left corner to force overtime at Pepperdine in his only minute of action.
Â• He has been able to score when he has gotten the playing time. He has played double-digit minutes in six games, averaging 9.7 points in 16.2 minutes in those games.
TERRY NASHIF / 5-10 Â• 165 Â• freshman Â• guard
Â• 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.
Â• Nashif is the only true point guard backing up Matt Montague since the loss of Shawn Opunui to injury.
Â• With starter Matt Montague playing nearly the entire game, Nashif has usually only seen very limited action.
Â• He has played in 14 games, but has played only one minute in six of those games. He has appeared in10 of 13 games since Opunui's last action.
Â• He equalled his season high playing 10 minutes vs. Southern Utah, recording a high of 3 rebounds. He played 10 minutes against Fort Lewis, and had 2 points and 3 assists.
Â• He played five minutes vs. CSUN and recorded a career-high 3 points, going 3-6 from the line.
Â• He played four minutes at UNLV, his first appearance in the last three games.
SHAWN OPUNUI / 5-11 Â• 170 Â• freshman Â• point guard
Â• Opunui could be out the remainder of the season with torn ligaments in his left thumb. He originally suffered ligament damage in his thumb while playing three minutes at Utah State on Dec. 1 and then reinjured his left thumb vs. Idaho (torn ligaments). Since getting his hard cast taken off, he has been wearing a removable splint and doing therapy.
Â• He played in four games.
Â• 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. He had six assists in the first half in only seven minutes.
Â• 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. 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. He loves pushing the ball up the floor as a true point guard with great court vision.
BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND (81-64 (.559)
Steve Cleveland is in his fifth season at the helm of the Cougars. In his five years at BYU, Cleveland has proven to be a first-rate recruiter, an excellent coach and player developer, and above all, a winner.
Last year Cleveland guiding BYU to its first NCAA tournament bid since 1995, its first conference regular season title since 1993 and its first conference tournament championship since 1992. While rebuilding a program that finished 1-25 before his arrival, he has improved the Cougars each season, posting records of 9-21, 12-16, 22-11 and 24-9. The Cougars also improved upon an NIT season in 1999-2000 to earn an NCAA berth last year.
The past two seasons both rank among of the school's best year's ever in terms of wins dating back to the Cougars first season in 1902. In fact, only five BYU teams have ever recorded more wins than last year's 24-9 team and only seven have improved upon the 22-11 record in 1999-2000.