Game 24 - BYU Hosts Wyoming Saturday at 7 p.m.

Sophomore Jimmy Balderson is averaging 16.7 points per game over the last three outings and will look to lead BYU over Wyoming Saturday night. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU (8-15, 2-6 MWC) will host the Wyoming Cowboys (13-8, 5-3 MWC) Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The game is a SportsWest telecast aired in Utah on KSL-TV, channel 5. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 (KSL.com).

UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS

The Cougars play the second home game of the week against Colorado State Monday night before heading out on the road to face New Mexico and Air Force. The Cougars and Rams will meet Monday at 8 p.m. and will be televised by SportsWest Productions on UPN-Z24 in Utah.

BYU GAME #24 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (8-15 2-6 MWC) vs. WYOMING COWBOYS (13-8, 5-3 MWC)

SATURDAY, FEB. 12, 2005

MARRIOTT CENTER (22,700)

PROVO, UTAH 7:07 p.m. MST

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (137-102 in eighth season; same overall)

Wyoming, Steve McClain (124-77 in seventh season; same overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 92-68 (Wyoming defeated the Cougars in Laramie earlier this year)

TV:

SportsWest (KSL, TV, channel 5, in Utah and KTWO in Wyoming with Tom Kirkland calling play-by-play with Blaine Fowler 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 (8-15, 2-6 MWC) is 5-6 at home, 2-6 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).

- Eight 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 eight BYU wins have been double-digit victories.

- BYU coach Steve Cleveland will pass Frank Arnold (1975-83) and move into fourth place on BYU's all-time victory list with a win against Wyoming Saturday. He tied Arnold last week with the victory at UNLV.

- BYU coach Steve Cleveland has utilized 15 different starting lineups this season while dealing with injuries and inconsistent play from an inexperienced roster. He has used the same lineup the last four games -- the first time this year the same five players have started even three consecutive games.

- 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 13.9 ppg. Sophomore point guard Austin Ainge contributes 9.5 ppg while sophomore guard Mike Rose adds 9.0 ppg. Ainge leads BYU with 4.1 assists (3rd in MWC; 5.1 apg in league games is 2nd in MWC). Sophomore transfer Keena Young pulls down a team-best 5.6 rebounds with sophomore center Derek Dawes adding 5.0 rpg.

- BYU shoots .429 from the floor, .364 from three and .737 (No. 1 MWC, 30th nationally) from the line while averaging 67.7 ppg. BYU opponents have shot .431 (FG) and .339 (3FG) while scoring 68.3 ppg. BYU opponents hold a slight 35.2-34.8 advantage on the boards.

LOOKING AT WYOMING

With a 13-8 overall record, the Wyoming Cowboys are off to a 5-3 start in the Mountain West Conference after winning five of their last six games, which places them third in the league standings. Wyoming is 2-5 on the road this season. The Cowboys are led by senior guard Jay Straight, who averages 17.4 points per game. Straight, a Second Team All-MWC selection last season, has scored 20+ points in seven games so far this season. He also ranks in the top five in the MWC in five statistical categories, coming in first in minutes played (39.4), second in assists (5.48 apg), fourth in steals (1.62 spg), fourth in scoring (17.4 ppg) and fourth in three point field goals made (2.00 pg). Straight leads the MWC in assists in league games with 5.75, just ahead of BYU's Austin Ainge. Senior guard Dion Sherrell is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.4 ppg, as well as leading the MWC in free throw percentage with a .889 mark, which is 12th in the nation. Senior Alex Dunn leads the team in rebounds with 8.2 rpg and is third on the team in scoring, averaging 9.7 ppg. Junior Justin Williams dominates on defense, leading the MWC and ranking sixth in the nation with 3.24 blocked shots per game. Wyoming is tied for 20th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 5.33 bpg. As a team, the Cowboys shoot 44.8 percent from field goal range, including 34.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 65.8 percent from the free throw line while scoring 72.2 points per game. Wyoming allows its opponents to shoot 43.2 percent from the field, 37.1 percent from three-point range and 67.3 percent from the charity stripe for an average of 71.3 points per game. Head coach Steve McClain is 124-77 overall in his seventh year at Wyoming's helm and has compiled 46 MWC wins, second only to BYU head coach Steve Cleveland.

LAST OUTING - STRAIGHT LEADS WYOMING PAST NEW MEXICO

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Jay Straight scored 24 points and 12 assists to guide Wyoming to an 81-71 win over New Mexico on Monday. The second half was especially hard-fought, with six lead changes. But the Cowboys (13-8, 5-3 Mountain West Conference) won on a 13-0 run over the last two-and-a-half minutes of the game. Though the Lobos (17-6, 4-4) gave up four of those final points on free throws, the others included a basket and 3-pointer from Straight, who ended the night 4 of 8 from that range, and a basket by Justin Williams. After Straight, Dion Sherrell scored 22 and Williams 12. For New Mexico, Danny Granger led with 19. Alfred Neale had 14, Troy DeVries had 13 and David Chiotti 11. The Cowboys entered the second half ahead 39-32, which faded into a 46-44 Lobos lead over the next several minutes on a basket by Neale, two free throws by Chiotti and a 3-pointer by Granger. It was a hardscrabble ball game from there: Neither team got more than 3 points ahead over the next 11{ minutes and the game was tied at 49, 61, 66 and 68. In the first half, New Mexico took a 25-24 lead on a pair of baskets by Granger. Wyoming responded with an 11-0 run and a 35-25 lead, an advantage it held on to until halftime. The Lobos shot 47 percent from the field; Wyoming 52 percent.

WYOMING'S PROJECTED STARTERS

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

F 2 Jerry Webb 6-5 215 Sr. 6.3 4.1

F 21 Justin Williams 6-10 225 Jr. 9.2 6.4

C 13 Alex Dunn 7-0 255 Sr. 9.7 8.2

G 00 Dion Sherrell 6-4 210 Sr. 11.4 2.5

G 3 Jay Straight 5-11 178 Sr. 17.4 4.1

SERIES NOTES

This will be the 161st meeting between the two schools. BYU leads the series 92-68, including three wins last season. The Cougars have swept the season series the past two years, but already lost to the Cowboys earlier this season in Laramie. BYU's prior season sweep was in 1996. BYU has won eight of the last 11 games in the series and has won nine of 13 meetings between the two schools since the formation of the Mountain West Conference. The two teams split the season series with home wins in 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1998. They did not meet in 1999. Wyoming swept the series in 1997 during BYU's 1-25 season to end four straight BYU wins in 1995 and 1996. After Utah (237 games) and Utah State (222 games), BYU has faced Wyoming the third-most times in its history. Wyoming has a 53-27 advantage in Laramie while BYU boasts a 61-13 record in Provo. BYU has a 4-2 edge on a neutral floor, including a 2-0 advantage in conference tournament play after BYU's win at last year's MWC Tournament in Denver. BYU has won six straight in Provo since Steve Cleveland took over as head coach. Steve Cleveland is 10-5 vs. Wyoming.

BYU SERIES RECORD VS. WYOMING

Overall Series Record: BYU leads 92-68

BYU Record in Provo: 61-13

BYU Record in Laramie: 27-53

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 4-2

BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 10-5

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

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

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

Longest BYU Win Streak: 12 (1972-77)

Longest Wyoming Win Streak: 9 (1942-46)

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

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

Most Points Scored by BYU: 102 in 1965

Most Points Scored by Wyoming: 107 in 1966

FIRST MEETING THIS SEASON -- 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. 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.

WHAT COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME IN LARAMIE THIS YEAR ...

"I was pleased with our aggression level but if you can't hit open shots on the road, you're not going to win. 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."

LAST YEAR IN PROVO -- MEADS, BIGELOW SET CAREER MARKS IN WIN OVER WYOMING

PROVO -- Monday night's game at the Marriott Center saw both freshman Garner Meads and senior Mark Bigelow set career marks as the BYU men's basketball team (12-4, 2-1) defeated Wyoming (8-8, 1-2) 78-64. Meads became the first Cougar besides senior Rafael Araujo to record a double-double this season as he recorded his first career double-double, posting 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in 26 minutes, career highs in both categories for the forward. Bigelow contributed 10 points on the night, which were good enough to move him past Kresimir Cosic for No. 9 on the all-time BYU scoring list. He also set a career high in assists with nine dishes on the night. In all, four of the five Cougar starters scored in double figures led by senior Rafael Araujo who was active in every part of the game with 24 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots. Senior guard Luiz Lemes contributed 17 points on 6-10 shooting and was 2-4 from behind the three-point line. Midway through the second half Cougar junior Jared Jensen went down with an injury as he fell to the floor trying to get a rebound and Araujo fell on top of him. Early reports indicate a sprained back and it is uncertain how long he will be out. In the first half, Wyoming jumped out to the early lead in the game after a three-point shot by Jay Straight that put the Cowboys up 2-5. The lead didn't last long as the Cougars used an 18-2 run to take a commanding lead in the first period. After the run the Cougars struggled to hold the lead as the Cowboys battled their way back into the ball game and closed the gap with another three-pointer this time by David Adams that tied the game up at 29-29 with 2:30 left in the half. The Cougars responded by outscoring the Cowboys 8-2 in the final minutes of the half, capping it off with a block by Araujo that sent the ball out to Bigelow. Bigelow raced down the court and found Michael Hall for an alley-oop dunk that brought the Marriott Center to its feet with 16 second left in the half. Meads came out strong for the Cougars in the second half, scoring the team's first six points of the half to put BYU up 43-34. With 11:53 left in the game, Bigelow hit a three pointer to put the Cougars up 50-43 and lifted him past Cosic on the career-scoring list. Wyoming made several attempts to get back in the game and take the lead, but the Cougars continued to pull away from the Cowboys, largely behind the team's free throw shooting, as BYU preserved its perfect 8-0 record at home this season and won the game 78-64. Araujo set a career-high in free throw attempts and free throws made as he went 12-17 from the line. Cleveland knows the margin of victory could have been greater had the team shot better than 66 percent on 27-57 shooting from the stripe.

WHAT BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME ...

"Offensively they (BYU players) did exactly what I wanted them to do. Hopefully we will continue that kind of offense throughout the season. We did miss some free throws, but other than that we played well."

BYU's LAST OUTING - AZTECS TRIP UP COUGARS

SAN -- A heroic effort by senior Mike Hall was not enough to lift the Cougars past the Aztecs as BYU fell 66-58 in Cox Arena Monday night. Cougar guard Mike Hall delivered a career-high 24 points, including 4-4 shooting from beyond the arc and Jimmy Balderson added 14 points, hitting BYU's four other three-pointers in the game. "Mike and Jimmy carried us throughout the entire ball game," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "They were the reason we even had a chance to win this game." It was a shaky start for both the Cougars and the Aztecs in the first half. Fortunately for BYU, Keena Young's eight first-half points and astounding play by Hall kept the Cougars on top until the eight-minute mark when the Aztecs made a run to overtake the Cougars and head into halftime with a 33-26 advantage. Early turnovers led to another rocky start for the Cougars in the second half, allowing the Aztecs to extend their lead to 12 points. BYU crawled back with a 13-0 run to take a 40-39 lead at the 14 minute mark, but the Cougar advantage was quickly taken away by the Aztecs. Hot shooting from beyond the arc by BYU kept the game within reach, but the Cougars could not recover from costly turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch. The Cougars shot 46 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 57 percent from the free throw line. The Cougars were also outscored in the paint by the Aztecs, 14-34. "We got hurt on the boards significantly," said Cleveland. "What really killed us in this game was San Diego State's 14 offensive rebounds."

BALDERSON STEPPING UP

Jimmy Balderson led BYU in scoring over the past three games, averaging 16.7 ppg while adding 3.3 rebounds per game. He shot .500 (15-for-30) from the floor, including an outstanding .600 success rate (12-of-20) from behind the three-point arc. Balderson now leads the team in three-point percentage with a .442 mark. His 23 points at UNLV set a new career high.

LINEUP STABILITY, RELATIVELY SPEAKING

BYU has used 15 different lineups this year in 23 games but the Cougars have stayed with the same starting five for the past four games -- a first this season. BYU is 2-2 in those games with wins over New Mexico and at UNLV. Between the two wins, the Cougars led at halftime before falling to No. 21 Utah. This current lineup consists of four sophomores (Austin Ainge, Jimmy Balderson, Keena Young, Derek Dawes) and one senior (Mike Hall).

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 (Jan. 31)

Sophomore center Derek Dawes earned MWC Player of the Week honors last Monday (Jan. 31) for his career night against New Mexico, 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 is No. 6 among MWC in field goal percentage in league games (.588). He has scored in double figures in five of the last six games while making a combined 29-of-49 (.592) from the floor. He is averaging 11 points and 5.7 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 13 starts thus far in his first season at Brigham Young. The 6-foot-6 Texan has several 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 and is currently second in the MWC in assists in league games (5.4 apg) while ranking third overall (4.1 apg). He is also second on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg and in steals (1.3 spg). He scored 19 points at UNLV, including 12 in overtime. 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.

INJURY ISSUES

BYU has had several different injury issues this year. Sophomore forward Garner Meads has missed six games overall this year due to injury, including last game at SDSU (three games foot, two games ankle, one leg). Tests proved negative for a stress fracture in his foot and he was able to return to action vs. San Diego State but he continues to play with pain. Meads had already missed two games (ankle) earlier this season. Sophomore center Derek Dawes played for a month with a broken thumb and missed most of the three games prior to Wyoming due to a shoulder injury. Freshman center David Burgess had ankle surgery in January and will be out for the season, and freshman forward Trent Plaisted is out indefinitely (knee). Both made limited appearances early in the seasons. Junior transfer Josh Reisman, a 6-1 guard who played in only one game for five minutes, had a second surgery to repair the broken nose he suffered during the summer and won't return. Senior F/C Jared Jensen did not start and played limited minutes vs. Utah State due to food poisoning and junior forward Joshua Burgess has been slowed by back problems. Freshman F/C Chris Miles is the only Cougar post player not to have his play limited during the regular season due to illness or injury.

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 0-1

On the road 0-1

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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