BYU (17-8, 7-5 MWC) returns to the road to finish the final week of the regular season. The Cougars face Mountain West Conference co-leader Wyoming (18-7, 9-3) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. MST in Arena Auditorium. The game is a SportsWest Productions game being tape-delay broadcast at 9 p.m. on KUWB-TV, channel 30 in Salt Lake City. The live radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160, beginning with the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. Wyoming is coming off a 74-65 loss at New Mexico Monday night.
Final Week Notables
BYU is 7-1 overall the final week of the regular season under Steve Cleveland, including 4-0 in MWC play. BYU has finished the regular season on the road twice in Cleveland's first four years. BYU swept the trip on both occasions with wins at New Mexico and UTEP in 1998 and victories at New Mexico and Air Force last year. BYU finished the 1999 and 2000 seasons at home, going 3-1 with a loss to UNM and a win over UTEP in 1999 and victories over Air Force and San Diego State in 2000. BYU plays at Colorado State and Wyoming this week to complete the regular season. The Cougars beat both teams in Provo in the first meetings this year. BYU has lost its last four games in Laramie and has not won at Wyoming since Feb. 10, 1996 (81-71). The Cougars have dropped five straight in Fort Collins since last winning at CSU in overtime (72-70) on Feb. 5, 1994. BYU hasn't swept the Front Range road trip since 1993.
BYU completes its Mountain West Conference regular season at Colorado State Saturday at 7 p.m. in Moby Arena. The game is being televised live on KSL-TV. BYU has lost in its last five trips to Fort Collins since a 72-70 win in 1994.
BYU (17-8, 7-5) at Wyoming (18-7, 9-3)
Thursday, Feb. 28, 2002
7:37 p.m. MST
BYU, Steve Cleveland (84-65 in fifth year; same overall)
Wyoming, Steve McClain (75-39 in 4th year; same overall)
BYU leads, 87-66
SportsWest Productions (KUWB, channel 30, in SLC)
Air Time: 9 p.m. MST -- DELAYED
Play-by-Play: Tom Kirkland
Game Analyst: Craig Hislop
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Brian Santiago
Live audio on KSL.com
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Mark Bigelow 6-7 190 So. 15.0 2.8
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-9 215 Sr. 10.1 5.0
C 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 245 Fr. 9.4 3.6
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Jr. 15.5 6.6
G 31 Matt Montague 6-0 190 Sr. 6.6 7.4 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 20 Daniel Bobik 6-6 205 So. 6.9 2.5
G 22 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 200 Fr. 4.4 1.5
C 42 Jon Carlisle 6-10 250 So. 1.9 1.6
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 So. 1.0 1.6
C 40 Dan Howard 7-0 225 So. 1.4 1.8
G 10 Terry Nashif 5-10 165 Fr. 0.3 0.6 apg
F 4 Jesse Pinegar 6-9 225 Fr. 0.3 0.5
Wyoming is tied for first place in the Mountain West Conference standings along with Utah at 9-3. The Cowboys are 18-7 overall. Wyoming is coming off a 74-65 loss at New Mexico in a late ESPN Big Monday contest. Wyoming has lost two of its last three games, but the Cowboys have gone 4-2 since losing at BYU in the first meeting this year. The loss in Provo ended five straight Wyoming wins and a string of nine wins in 10 games. The lone loss in that stretch was a 90-84 defeat at Texas Tech. Wyoming ended Utah's conference home winning streak.The Cowboys are 11-1 at home overall and 4-1 in league play. The Cowboys are 6-6 away, including a 5-2 road mark in the Mountain West. Wyoming is the best road team in the MWC over the past two seasons with a 9-5 record. Three of Wyoming's league wins this year have been in overtime, including a quadruple overtime win over Air Force in Laramie. Wyoming's three losses have been at BYU (85-70), and New Mexico (74-65) and vs. San Diego State (68-64) at home. The Cowboys shoot 46.2 percent from the floor, 29.5 percent on threes and 69.4 percent from the line. Opponents are shooting 41.2 percent from the floor and 36.5 percent on threes. Marcus Bailey and Donta Richardson lead four Cowboys in double figures scoring at 13.2 and 13.0 ppg, respectively. Josh Davis adds 12.0 and Uche Nsonwu-Amadi at 10.3. Freshman Jason Straight averages 9.2 ppg and 3.4 assists. Nsonwu-Amadi pulls down a team-leading 8.6 rebounds, including nearly 10 per game in conference play. Richardson is 19th nationally in free throw percentage at 90 percent.
WYOMING'S PROBABLE STARTERS
No. Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. PPG RPG
44 F Marcus Bailey 6-5 190 Jr. 13.2 4.2
22 F Josh Davis 6-8 235 Sr. 12.0 7.3
5 C Uche Nsonwu-Amadi 6-10 260 Jr. 10.3 8.6
1 G Donta Richardson 6-2 170 Jr. 13.0 2.8
3 G Jason Straight 5-11 165 Fr. 9.2 2.4
This will be the 154th meeting between the two schools. BYU leads the series 87-66, including a 59-13 mark in Provo. BYU has won the last three games in the series. The Cougars won first meeting this year in Provo, 85-70 on Feb. 2. The Cougars also won the last two meetings last year, defeating Wyoming in the MWC tournament semifinals in Las Vegas, 77-66 and in Provo, 79-63. Wyoming won in Laramie, 85-78, coming back from an 18-point BYU lead. The two teams have split the season series with home wins in 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. Wyoming has won four straight over BYU in Laramie. BYU's last win in Laramie was an 81-71 triumph on Feb. 10, 1996. BYU has won four straight in Provo. Wyoming's last win in the Marriott Center was on Feb. 8, 1997 (72-60). The Cougars have won 9 of the last 14 meetings dating to the 1994-95 season but Wyoming has won five of the last 10 dating to the 1996-97 campaign. After Utah (232 games) and Utah State (218 games), BYU has faced Wyoming the third-most times in its history. Steve Cleveland is 5-3 vs. Wyoming.
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 87-66
BYU Record in Provo: 59-13
BYU Record in Laramie: 25-51
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 3-2
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 5-3
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
RECENT OUTINGS VS. WYOMING
Cougars Shoot Their Way to Win over Wyoming in First Meeting in Provo
PROVO -- Travis Hansen and Mark Bigelow each scored 19 points to lead BYU to an 85-70 win over league-leading Wyoming. The Cougars shot 68 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from beyond the arc in the first half and 58.6 percent and 57.1 percent respectively for the game. BYU's sharp shooting allowed them to build a 12-point halftime lead. "It's been a long couple of weeks but it was great to see the kids start making baskets," Cleveland said. "This was a very important game just for the whole mental framework of this team." Hansen and Bigelow got plenty of support from Eric Nielsen's 12 points , seven rebounds and career-high three blocks and Jared Jensen's 10 points and two blocked shots. Matt Montague's 15 assists tied a career high he set this season against the Idaho Vandals on Dec. 15. The Cougar bench got into the act as well with Jimmy Balderson, Daniel Bobik and Jon Carlisle combining for 19 points. Carlisle had BYU career bests of 4-4 free throwshooting, eight points and 19 minutes played. "I thought we got great play off the bench," said Cleveland. " They gave us offense and defense." BYU's 58.6 percent field goal shooting against the Cowboys was the first time the Cougars had shot over 50 percent since the Southern Utah game Dec. 29. The Cougars had only shot better from the arc when they played Stanford Dec. 22, going 7-of-11 for 63.6 percent. "We caught them on a night when everything was going good and we couldn't do anything to stop that. That is a credit to Steve Cleveland, his staff and his players," said McClain. BYU was able to hold the Cowboys to 29 rebounds, 13 below the Pokes' season average. BYU was only out-rebounded by two against a Wyoming team that leads the nation in rebounding margin (+10.3). The Cougars' defense was also able to hold Wyoming to 70 points, 11 below its 81-point average (tied for 19th best nationally). "I think we ran into a team coming off [three] losses that knew they had their backs against the wall," McClain said. "They had a game plan and it worked. I thought they had a solid defensive effort."
Lyday's 32 Leads BYU Past Wyoming and into the MWC Finals
LAS -- BYU advanced to the finals of the Mountain West Conference Championship for the second straight year, holding off Wyoming's come-from-behind efforts to win 77-66. In a game that pitted two of the MWC Co-champions, BYU emerged as the victor thanks to the play of senior Mekeli Wesley and Terrell Lyday, who combined for all but four of the Cougars 34 second-half points. Lyday set a MWC Tournament record as he tourched the Cowboys for 32 points on 8-15 shooting and a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the three-point line. "Terrell and Mekeli played huge for us tonight," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "We played a great game tonight and we don't win it unless we have the kind of performance we got from those two guys." The Cougars got off to a great start going up 20-10 and led by as much as 15 in the first period. Wyoming's Brett Mcfall hit a three pointer to end the half cutting BYU's lead to 12. The Cowboys got MWC Player of the Year Wesley in foul trouble as he sat on the bench for the majority of the first half. The Cowboys started the second half tough, but Mekeli Wesley's fresh legs lifted the Cougars out to an 18 point spread. Wesley hit three straight three pointers to ignite the Thomas and Mack Center crowd and to take away Wyoming's momentum. BYU shot a season high 69.2 percent from 3-point range. But much like the BYU-Wyoming game in Laramie earlier in the year, the Cowboys fought back and cut the lead to five points on several occasions. But unlike the game in Laramie, where the Cowboys hit 12 of their last 13 shots, BYU made some key stops. The Cougars made the key stops down the stretch with two of its big men (Eric Nielsen and Nate Knight) out with five fouls. Wesley played the final 11 minutes of the game with four fouls. Keeping Wesley in the game was a key to the Cougars victory. "I told Mekeli, 'don't foul and if you have to give up a basket to stay in the game then do it,'" Cleveland said. "I had to play him because he's a presence inside and he opens up our offense." Seniors Trent Whiting and Nate Cooper also had a big nights. Whiting hit a couple of first half threes to finish with 11 points and Cooper had a team high seven rebounds.
Wyoming Comes Back for Win in Last Meeting in Laramie
LARAMIE -- Suffering its second straight road loss, BYU led for nearly the entire game but could not hold off a late Wyoming rally as the Cowboys came from behind to defeat the Cougars 85-78 at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo. Thanks to the outstanding play of forward Mekeli Wesley, the Cougars took control of the game and built a lead that reached as many as 18 points in the first half. The Cowboys tried to guard Wesley without double-teaming and paid the price. Wesley had his best scoring half of the season, pouring in 19 points to help the Cougars enter the break with a 48-34 advantage. BYU maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first 10 minutes of the second half and had an eight-point edge with 7:58 remaining at 67-59. But Wyoming out scored BYU 15-6 over the next four minutes to take its first lead since early in the first half at 74-73. The Cougars trailed by four at 79-75 with less than a minute remaining but could get no closer as Wyoming made the big shots to earn the come-from-behind win. Wesley scored 10 second half points despite the Cowboys changing its defensive strategy to double and triple team him inside. Wesley finished the night with a season-high 29 points and 11 rebounds to lead BYU while Eric Nielsen added 12 and Terrell Lyday 11. Trent Whiting failed to score in double figures for the first time this year, totaling seven points, all in the first half. Whiting did equal his career best of 3 steals for the third consecutive game. Four Cowboys scored in double figures, led by center Uche Nsonwu-Amadi with 21. BYU held Marcus Bailey, the top scorer in the Mountain West Conference, to nine points. Wyoming shot 50.9 percent from the floor compared to the Cougars 42.9 percent. BYU falls to 13-6 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West Conference while Wyoming improves to 12-4 and 3-1.
Wyoming Quick Facts:
Location: Laramie, Wyo.
Nickname: Cowboys, Pokes
Colors: Brown and Prairie Gold
Home Arena: Arena-Auditoruim (15,028)
Conference: Mountain West
Athletic Director: Lee Moon
Head Coach: Steve McClain
Alma Mater: Chadron State (1984)
Best time to call: Contact SID
Office Phone: (307) 766-5114
Overall Record (Years): 75-39 (4th year)
Record at School (Years): same
Assistant Coaches: Leroy Washington, John Adams, Heath Schroyer
Overall Record: 20-10
Conf. Record/Finish: 10-4/T1st
Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: First Round of NIT
Letterman Returning/Lost: 9/2
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/0
Returning Starters (last year's stats)
Marcus Baily, 6-5, 190, Jr., G/F (17.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Josh Davis, 6-8, 235, Sr., F (13.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg)
Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, 6-10, 260, Jr., C (11.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Ronnell Mingo, 6-9, 245, Sr., F (6.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Chris McMillian, 5-10, 180, Jr., G (out injury)
Basketball Contact: Kevin M. McKinney
Office: (307) 766-2256
Home: (307) 742-3181
Fax: (307) 766-2346
Athletics Web Site
LAST OUTING - BYU Stages Comeback to Defeat Utah Saturday in Provo
PROVO -- In the last regular season home game of their careers, seniors Matt Montague and Eric Nielsen combined to create an unforgettable comeback that led to a 63-61 victory over rival Utah at the Marriott Center Saturday. With 1:18 left in the game, Montague hit a three-pointer to bring BYU within one, 61-60. The Marriott Center crowd of 15,628 erupted. Then Montague made a record-setting assist to Nielsen who finished the play by hitting an eight-foot jumper to give the Cougars their first lead of the game, 62-61, with 25 seconds remaining. The assist tied Montague with BYU legend Danny Ainge for the all-time career record for assists at 539 and added more lore to the tradition of Marriott Center magic. A crucial rebound and one made free throw by BYU upstart Dan Howard gave the Cougars a two-point edge, 63-61, and then Mark Bigelow sealed the victory with a rebound off a Utah jump shot. Bigelow finished with 11 points and two rebounds. "Before I say anything, I want to tell you that I thought it was most appropriate that our two seniors hit the two big shots of the game," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "This is not the end of the season, but it's really, really nice to see really good things happen to these two young men." A BYU victory looked very doubtful in the first half as the Cougars trailed 43 26 at the break. BYU had never trailed by more than 12 at half this season and never came back from any of their three 12-point halftime deficits to win. "The first 20 minutes were probably the worst 20 minutes we have played in the last two or three years," Cleveland said. Early scores by Utah in the second half pushed the lead to 21, 47-26, but BYU then went on a 24-5 run to make it 52-50 with 7:26 remaining. Despite being in foul trouble, Cougar Travis Hansen led the comeback as he has done so many times this season. He finished with a game-high 17 points in addition to his seven rebounds and three assists. "We had to have help from Travis, but we had to keep him off the floor with four fouls," Cleveland said. "But he is a hungry, aggressive young man and I think he is pretty happy now. This was a great college game." "When they get on a stretch and those fans get behind them, it's tough to win," said Utah center Phil Cullen. "You have to be at the top of your game." Nielsen finished the game with 14 points, four rebounds and one each of blocks, steals and assists. Montague hit a three-pointer for the fifth time in six games and finished with seven points, seven assists, zero turnovers and two rebounds. While the Cougar offense was scoring, its defense was playing its best half of the season. After a dismal first half in which BYU allowed a season-worst 43 points given up in a half, the Cougars were able to tighten up their defense. BYU only allowed 18 Ute points in the second half, tying the season low for points scored by an opponent in any half. "Utah is a very well-coached team and they don't beat themselves," Cleveland said. "We knew a comeback would be very
difficult. If you get enough stops and get to the free-throw line enough, it can be done."
The win brings the Cougars to 7-5 in conference play and 17-8 overall. Utah falls to 9-3, 19-6 respectively. BYU tied the all-time series 116-116 with the win.
Nielsen Named Academic All-District
BYU senior forward Eric Nielsen was named to the 2002 Verizon Academic All-District VIII men's basketball team, released last week. Two-time honorees Dan Dickau of Gonzaga and Predrag Savovic of Hawaii join Nielsen on the five-man team along with Jason Humbert of Eastern Washington and Michael Preston of Pacific. Four of this year's five honorees play on teams currently in the top three of their respective conferences. BYU, 16-8 overall, is currently tied for third in the Mountain West Conference at 6-5.The District VIII team was voted on by CoSIDA members from within the District VIII states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington, and the province of British Columbia. The all-district first-team selections advance to the national ballot for consideration. The 2002 Verizon Academic All-America team will be announced March 7. An All-MWC Academic member and a Cougar Club Scholar Athlete, Nielsen has a 3.26 GPA in Civil Engineering.
BYU is tied for 22nd nationally, making 47.7 percent from the floor. The Cougars shoot 47.2 percent in conference play. BYU is shooting 49.3 percent in its 17 victories and 44.6 percent in its eight losses. The Cougars are shooting .498 at home and .448 on the road. BYU has shot at least 45 percent in 17 games this year. BYU has shot 50 percent or better six times this year, including 55.9 percent vs. Air Force last Monday.
From Three-Point Range
BYU is shooting 40.1 percent on threes (rated 17th nationally). After making a season-low two threes vs. UNM, going 2-10 to end a string of six straight games with at least five threes, BYU responded with 8 treys vs. Air Force while shooting its second-best percentage at .615, going 8-13. BYU made a seaon-best 636 percent (7-11) vs. Stanford. BYU's 57.1 percent from three-point range vs. Wyoming was its third-highest mark from downtown this season. BYU equaled a season-high 11 treys vs. Southern Utah on Dec. 29. 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 54 threes (.419) and made a three in 22 of 25 games this year (including a BYU-record 22 straight games dating back to his freshman season). Travis Hansen has made 30 treys (.441) and Daniel Bobik has made 25 (.385). Matt Montague has made 14 (.333), and Eric Nielsen (.556) and Jimmy Balderson (.323) 10 apiece.
One-Two Scoring Punch
Travis Hansen and Mark Bigelow are BYU's 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. Hansen recently surpassed Bigelow as the team's leading scorer after his 19 points Monday vs. Air Force. Hansen averages 15.5 and Bigelow 15.0. Bigelow has reached double figures in 21 of 25 games and Hansen has been in double-digits in 19 of 25 games. The only game this year when neither player reached double-digit points was at UNM. Hansen rebounded with 22 points at Utah after a season-low five points at Air Force. Bigelow scored only four points at Utah, but responded to share game-high honors with Hansen vs. Wyoming with 19. Bigelow had a season-low 3 points vs. AFA Monday.
Other Scoring Options
The Cougars have three players scoring in double figure points. After leaders Travis Hansen (15.5) and Mark Bigelow (15.0), senior Eric Nielsen averages 10.1 ppg and has scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford. He has scored in double-digits in 11 of his last 13 starts and 11 of the last 14 games, including 14 points vs. Utah Saturday. 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 6.9 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 six times, including a season-high 13 points at Utah and vs. AFA.
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). Their shooting touch returned with home wins over Wyoming and CSU as Bigelow made 15-24 (.625) Hansen 13-21 (.619) and Bobik 2-4 (.500). In the last five home games, all wins, Hansen is 30-53 (.566), Bigelow is 25-47 (.532) and Bobik 4-9 (.500). In wins this year, Bigelow is shooting .478 and averaging 16.3 ppg, Hansen .475 and 15.0 ppg and Bobik .413 and 6.8 ppg. In losses, Bigelow's number drop to .346 and 12.1 ppg while Hansen's percentage falls to .419 but his average is up to team-leading 16.6 ppg. Bobik has shot better in losses (.440) with similar average (7.1 ppg).
Numbers at the Line
BYU is shooting 76.6 percent from the line for the year (7th nationally). Last year, BYU led the nation at 78 percent from the line. BYU's worst percentage was at UNM, making only 7-12 free throws (.583). BYU shot 81.8 percent vs. Wyoming but only 66.7 percent vs. CSU. BYU's has been in the top four nationally most of the season but was only 21-32 (.656) vs. AFA, and 13-19 (.684) vs. Utah, only its third and fourth games below 70 percent. Daniel Bobik made 27 consecutive free throws before missing (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 this year until missing on his fourth attempt at home vs. SDSU. Bobik is 14th nationally at 90.5 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 37.3 minutes per outing. Forward Bart Jepsen and guard Daniel Bobik are the only reserves to play in every game but both have seen less minutes in recent games. Jon Carlisle and Dan Howard have been seeing time in the post and Jimmy Balderson on the perimeter. Howard has gotten much more time in the last four games.
BYU's record when . . .
BYU leads at half 12-4
Opponent leads at half 3-4
Score tied at half 2-0
BYU leads with 5 minutes left 15-2
Opponent leads with 5 min. left 2-6
BYU leads with 1 minute left 16-0
Opponent leads with 1 min. left 1-7
Score tied with 1 minute left 0-1
Game goes into overtime 0-2
BYU out rebounds opponent 13-2
Opponent out rebounds BYU 3-5
BYU and opponent tie in rebounds 1-1
BYU shoots 50 % or better 5-1
Opponent shoots 50 % or better 0-3
BYU out shoots opponent 14-3
Opponent out shoots BYU 3-5
BYU scores 60 or more points 16-6
Opponent scores below 60 points 10-0
Montague is BYU Energizer, Keeps on Going, and Going
Senior point guard Matt Montague averages a team-leading 37.3 minutes per game. While playing nearly the entire game, he fifth nationally in assists (7.4). In MWC play, he averages 7.7 assists. He leads the league in assist/turnover ratio. He is also averaging a career-best 6.6 ppg and 4.2 rpg. In last week's two games Matt Montague averaged 10.0 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds. He had seven points and seven rebounds against Utah. Montague equaled his season-high with 13 points vs. Air Force (also at Utah on 1/28/01) along with seven assists and six rebounds. He is tied with Danny Ainge as BYU's all-time assist leader.
BYU won its last three games (five of its last seven). 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. BYU has won 35 consecutive home games. BYU has lost eight 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. Including this year, the Cougars have had nine two-game losing streaks since losing the three straight in 1999. BYU's road losses include Utah State (OT), UCSB, Pepperdine (OT), UNM, AFA, Utah UNLV (at the buzzer) and SDSU.
Home Winning Streak
BYU has a 35-game home court winning streak. The streak, which is a school record topping the 24 straight won between March 1994 and January 1996, is the longest current streak in the nation. BYU finished 15-0 at home for the second straight season. BYU has had a perfect home record eight times since the Marriott Center opened for the 1971-72 season. This is the first time it has happened in back-to-back seasons. BYU's last home loss was on Feb. 17, 2000 when New Mexico edged the Cougars 78-74. BYU has won 17 straight at home over MWC teams.
Hitting the Glass
BYU has had the rebounding edge in 15 of 25 games, earning a 13-2 record when winning the battle of the boards. Overall, BYU averages 33.6 rebounds while its opponents grab on average 30.2. BYU held AFA to only 15 boards (a BYU opponent season low) while grabbing 35 last Monday. The Cougars have been out rebounded eight times overall this year (3-5 in those games). BYU has been out boarded in seven of 12 MWC games. BYU had 32 boards to Utah's 29. BYU got some key rebounds late vs. UNM Saturday to help seal its comeback despite being out boarded 32-25. Allowing some offensive rebounds late had hurt the Cougars in recent closely contested road losses. BYU's low on the glass was 23 at Air Force. BYU out boarded Fort Lewis, 47-17, for its season high. 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. Shooting guard Travis Hansen leads the team (6.6) and point guard Matt Montague is third at 4.2. Forward Eric Nielsen is second at 5.0. Hansen has had highs of 17 and 15 rebounds and had an 11-board effort at Utah.
BYU ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.420), first in three-point percentage defense (.299) and third in scoring defense (64.0). 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, UNLV 46.7 percent and SDSU 48.2, UNM 45.3 and Utah 48.9 in the last six games. Only three teams have shot better than 50 percent against BYU (at AFA, .543; at New Mexico, .536; at Utah State, .509). The Cougars have held nine opponents this year below 40 percent shooting while nine teams have shot better than 45 percent against BYU.
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. The 2002 Olympics had a significant impact on attendance this year.
From the Training Room
After playing only four games, reserve point guard Shawn Opunui is expected to be out the remainder of the season with torn ligaments in his left thumb.
Hansen Named MWC Player of the Week on Jan. 7
COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU junior forward Travis Hansen has been named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week after averaging a double-double last week in BYU's two games. Hansen, from Orem, Utah (Utah Valley State College) averaged 19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds while BYU defeated San Francisco and lost in overtime at Pepperdine. The Cougar guard shot 48 percent from the field (13-of-27) and was perfect from the free throw line (14-of-14). "Travis is very deserving," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "He had a special performance at Pepperdine. He just competed like a lion. He was a warrior out there who carried us on his shoulders." In the 84-70 win vs. San Francisco, Hansen scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds, had two assists, one block and one steal in 27 minutes. Against Pepperdine, he collected his team-leading third double-double of the year with 30 points and 17 rebounds in the 82-79 overtime loss. He went 10-of-19 from the floor and 10-of-10 from the line while adding two assists and one steal in 42 minutes. He set career highs during the game in points, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throw percentage, and minutes played. Hansen's 17 boards tops his previous high of 15 rebounds set earlier this year and are the most by a Cougar since Brett Applegate had 17 rebounds in December 1983. This is Hansen's first player of the week honor of his career and the second awarded to a Cougar this season. BYU senior forward Eric Nielsen earned the honor on Dec. 24. "It's an nice honor for me and the team," Hansen said. "I think it reflects how we have played as a team during the preseason. Obviously it would be a lot sweeter had we won the game at Pepperdine, but it is something to build upon entering our conference games."
Nielsen Earns MWC Player of the Week Award after Stanford Victory
COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU senior forward Eric Nielsen was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week Monday after leading the Cougars to an 81-76 upset of 13th-ranked Stanford Saturday at the Las Vegas Showdown. It was Nielsen's first player of the week honor of his career. Nielsen, from Freemont, Calif. (Irvington HS) scored a career-high 29 points after making 11-of-16 shots from the floor (68.8 percent), including 2-for-2 from three-point range. He was also a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line and grabbed six rebounds, while dishing out two assists. Nielsen's two treys marked a career best and equaled the total number of threes he's made in te past two years combined. Nielsen scored 17 points in 18 first-half minutes, keeping BYU within one at intermission, 41-40. He added 12 points in the second half and helped the Cougars outrebound Stanford, holding the Cardinal nine boards their season average. Nielsen also set career highs with the 16 field goal attempts, 11 field goals made and free throw percentage (1.000).
Bigelow Sets Three-Point Mark vs. UNLV in Provo
Against UNLV, Mark Bigelow connected from behind the arc for the 22nd straight game dating back to his freshman season, a new BYU record. His streak ended with three misses at New Mexico. Terrell Lyday previously held the record with 21, all coming in the 1999-2000 season. Lyday's 21 games is still the single-season consecutive games record for BYU. Bigelow also achieved the third-longest single season mark at 15 games. BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson is second on the single-season list. Toolson made a three in 29 of 30 games as a senior in 1990, with streaks of 16 and 13 games. Toolson didn't make a three vs. Wyoming.
Cleveland in Conference Play
After the win over Utah, Cleveland's conference (WAC/MWC) record is 34-34. Cleveland last reached a .500 mark with the UNLV win in Provo on Jan. 15. Taking over after BYU's 1-25 season, Cleveland improved BYU's conference record in each of his first four seasons and has exceeded most expectations with only one starter returning this year. The UNLV win in Provo was the first time since a 2-2 mark in his first season that Cleveland had reached .500 in conference play. Overall, he has been at .500 four times (1-1, 2-2, 29-29, 34-34). He can achieve a conference winning mark for the third time and the first time since early in his first season (1-0, 2-1). Cleveland has a 23-16 (.590) MWC record.
BYU in Nonconference
BYU achieved double-digit nonconference wins for the third straight season with a 10-3 mark this year. Last year BYU was 11-4 entering MWC play and went on to a 24-9 record. In 1999-2000 the Cougars were 11-2 and finished 22-11. BYU has defeated 26 straight nonconference opponents in the Marriott Center. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998. BYU has a 32-6 home record against nonconference teams under Steve Cleveland. BYU is 25-0 vs. non-MWC teams at home since the conference was founded in 1999. The Cougars are the only MWC team with an unbeaten home nonconference mark.
Winning Ways Have Changed
When BYU's scoring leader Mark Bigelow last played for the Cougars prior to his mission in 1998-99, the Cougars suffered several close defeats on the way to a 12-16 record. With BYU off to an 17-8 record this year, Bigelow has already helped the Cougars achieve more wins than his team achieved his freshman year. During Bigelow's mission, BYU earned back-to-back 20-plus win seasons. Including this year, the Cougars are 63-28 (.692) in the last three seasons.
Tough MWC Conference
BYU's seven Mountain West opponents have combined (as of Feb. 26) to win 60 percent of their games this year. The league was predicted to be stronger top to bottom from last season. BYU was picked sixth in the preseason poll with Wyoming and Utah considered the top two teams to win the title this year.
BYU Opponent Records
Of the 20 opponents BYU will face this year, 14 have winning records as of Feb. 26. Six teams have a losing record. Seven of BYU's eight losses (except Air Force) have come against team's with winning records. Overall, BYU's opponents have combined to win 59.2 percent of their games with the nonconference teams having won 59 percent and MWC teams 60 percent.
BYU vs. Postseason Teams/Conference Champs
On this year's schedule, BYU has played seven conference champions, including Pac-10 champion Stanford, and has 12 games against teams who qualified for postseason play last year. In addition to Stanford, last year's champions included Creighton of the Missouri Valley Conference, Utah State of the Big West, Cal State Northridge of the Big Sky (playing in Big West this year), Southern Utah of the Mid-Continent Conference and fellow co-champions Utah and Wyoming of the Mountain West Conference. Pepperdine and New Mexico also advanced to post-season play in the NIT tournament. So far this year, BYU is 6-2 vs. the conference title holders with Thursday's game at Wyoming still on the schedule. BYU is 7-4 against teams that earned postseason berths last year with losses at Utah State, Pepperdine, New Mexico and Utah and wins over Creighton, Stanford, CS Northridge, Southern Utah , Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah.
BYU's win this year over then No. 13 Stanford in Las Vegas was the Cougars' first win over a top-20 team since upsetting No. 15 New Mexico (83-62)i n The Pit in February 1998. Last year BYU lost to No. 13 USC, 70-67, at the Yahoo Sports Invitational in Laie, Hawaii, after leading by 18 at the half, 41-23. BYU played at No. 4 Arizona on Dec. 1, 1999 but lost 86-62 after a late Arizona run in the final eight minutes. BYU took No. 11 Arizona to overtime in Provo on Nov. 24, 1998, before losing 78-74. BYU nearly won in regulation, but Arizona's Jason Terry hit a three-pointer to send the game to overtime.
All BYU games will be carried live on the Cougar Sports Radio Network, originating from KSL Newsradio 1160 AM in Salt Lake City. BYU is featured six times this season in the Mountain West television package with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Regional Television (ESPN+Plus) and ABC. The Cougars play twice on ESPN and four times on ESPN+Plus. An additional 13 BYU games are part of the SportsWest Productions' package and KBYU will produce two games for taped-delay broadcast. In all 21-of-27 regular season games are slated for television broadcast. BYU also appeared on Fox Sports West 2 against Pepperdine and Fox Sports Arizona vs. Arizona State.
Sagarin Ratings (as of Feb. 26)
BYU is currently ranked 48th and is the second-rated team in the Mountain West Conference in the Sagarin ratings. BYU has the second-highest rated schedule (49th). The MWC is the 7th ranked conference. Below is a list of MWC teams in order of ranking. To see the latest Sagarin Rankings go to: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin.htm
Rk. Team Sched Rank
40 Utah 54
48 BYU 49
57 Wyoming 121
69 UNLV 77
70 San Diego State 38
78 New Mexico 115
145 Colorado State 81
171 Air Force 79
RPI Report (as of Feb. 26)
According to the CollegeRPI.com rankings, BYU is ranked 33rd nationally in RPI, the second-rated MWC team behind Utah at 18. The Mountain West Conference is rated 7th among the 32 conferences (and five independents).
New Mexico 48
San Diego State 59
Air Force 172
Colorado State 173
BYU in MWC Statistics (as of Feb. 26)
Category Overall Conf. Only
Scoring Offense 5th 5th
Scoring Defense 3rd 3rd
Scoring Margin 2nd 3rd
FT Percentage 1st 3rd
FG Percentage 3rd 2nd
FG % Defense 2nd T-4th
3-FG Percentage 2nd 3rd
3-FG % Defense 1st 1st
Rebound Offense 6th 6th
Rebounding DeF. 3rd 1st
Rebound Margin 5th 5th
Blocked Shots T-6th 4th
Assists T-4th 3rd
Steals 8th 8th
Turnover Margin 7th 4th
Assist/TO Ratio 2nd 2nd
Offensive Reb. 7th 6th
Defensive Reb. 3rd 4th
3-FG Made 3rd 4th
Individual (overall games)
Â• Matt Montague leads the MWC in assists and assist/turnover ratio. He is 10th in defensive rebounds, tied for 10th in steals, and 16th in rebounding.
Â• Mark Bigelow9th in scoring, 6th in free throw percentage, and tied for 3rd in three-pointers per game and 7th in three-point percentage.
Â• Travis Hansen is 8th in scoring, 7th in rebounding, 4th in defensive rebounds, tied for 5th in three-point percentage, tied for 9th in free throw percentage and 15th in three-pointers per game.
Â• Eric Nielsen is 6th in field goal percentage, 12th in blocks, 10th in defensive rebounds, and 12th in total rebounds.
Â• Daniel Bobik would lead all MWC players in free throw percentage (.905) but doesn't shoot enough to qualify for the rankings. He is 14th in three-point percentage.
Â• Jared Jensen is No. 1 in FG percentage, is 5th in FT percentage and tied for 13th in off. rebounds.
Â• Jon Carlisle is 14th in blocked shots.
BYU in National Statistics (as of Feb. 26)
Â• BYU is 7th in the nation in free throw shooting percentage (.766), 17th in three-point percentage (.401), and tied for 22nd in field goal percentage (.477).
Â• Matt Montague is 5th in assists (7.4) (1. - T.J. Ford, Texas, 8.7; 2. - S. Blake, Maryland, 7.9; 3. - Steve Kennedy, Marist (7.8); 4. C. Thomas, Notre Dame, (7.5). Daniel Bobik is 14th in FT% (.905).
Montague Set to Become BYU Assist Leader
Senior guard Matt Montague tied Danny Ainge Saturday with as BYU's all-time assist leader. He stands alone in that honor with his first assist vs. Wyoming. He is currently the leader in career average, just ahead of Ainge, and has BYU's best single-season average at 7.4, which is currently fifth nationally. He needs 19 assists to pass Nate Call as the single-season total assists leader. He has also dished out 15 assists in a game twice this year, just one off the BYU mark of 16 set by Mike May in 1976.
BYU Assist Leaders
Total Assists - Career
1. Danny Ainge 539
Matt Montague 539
3. Nathan Call 528
4. Marty Haws 502
Assists by Average -- Career
1. Matt Montague 4.60
2. Danny Ainge 4.57
3. Nathan Call 4.09
Total Assists -- Season
1. Nathan Call (1992) 204
2. Matt Montague (2002) 186
3. Nathan Call (1991) 164
4. Danny Ainge (1978) 158
Assists by Average -- Season
1. Matt Montague (2002) 7.4
2. Nathan Call (1992) 6.4
3. Danny Ainge (1978) 5.3
Assists in a game
1. Mike May (1976) 16
2. Matt Montague (2002) 15 (twice)
MATT MONTAGUE / 6-0 Â• 190 Â• senior Â• point guard
Â• Montague provides leadership at the point having started 82 times and played in all 117 games in his fourth year. He has led the team in assists during each of his four seasons.
Â• He averages a MWC-best 7.4 assists (5th nationally). He tops the MWC in assist/TO ratio. He has two of the nation's top seven assist games. He had15 assists vs. Wyoming and Idaho - the most assists by a Cougar since Mike May set the school record with 16 vs. Niagara in 1976. He is tied with Danny Ainge as BYU's all-time assist leader.
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 has reached double figures points in six games this year, including a season-high 13 points (7 assists, 6 rbs) vs. AFA Monday and at Utah (7 rebs., 5 assists) in the first meeting.
Â• He averages career highs of 6.6 ppg, 7.4 apg and 4.2 rpg. He made a career-best 8 FTs to seal the win over Stanford.
Â• He had a season-high 8 rebounds at home vs. SDSU. At 6-foot, he is third on the team in rebounding average at 4.2.
Â• His three treys on 3-3 shooting vs. AFA set career highs. He has made 13 threes in the last 14 games, hitting on 13-29 attempts (.448), after making only 1 trey (1-13, .077) in BYU's first 11 games. He took a career-high 5 three-pioint attempts at Utah in the first meeting. His trey vs. Utah Saturday with a minutes left set up the game-winning shot.
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 leading scorer (15.5) and rebounder (6.6).
Â• He averaged a team-leading 18.0 ppg last week. He shot 52.6 percent from the floor, including 66.7 (4-6) percent on threes, and 75 percent from the line. He has scored 17 or more in seven of the last eight games, including three games with 20 or more points. The exception was his 7 points at SDSU, where he played a season-low 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
Â• He has led BYU in scoring a team-leading 11 times overall this year, including the last three straight games.
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 has reached double-digit points in 19 of 25 games, including seven of the last eight.
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• He played the last two games with deep muscle pulls (groin and hip flexor).
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 has led BYU in scoring much of the year and is now second at 15.0 ppg. He has scored at least 13 points in 19 of 25 games. He has five 20 or more points games this year, including a BYU season-high 31 vs. ASU. He had a string of 14 straight double-digit games before only 4 points at UNM. He also had 4 points at Utah, taking a season-low one three-point attempt. He had his season low in points vs. AFA, going 1-4 for three points on a trey.
Â• After averaging 18.3 ppg over the first 11 games (9-2 record) and shooting .469 from the floor, Bigelow slumped to 24-71 (.338) over the next seven games (3-4 record), including 8-32(.250) on threes while averaging 11.7 ppg over that stretch. He rebounded vs. Wyoming going 8-12 for 19 points. In the last six games, starting with Wyoming, he has continued to shoot better, going 32-66 (.485) from the floor and and 15-33 (.455) on threes. BYU is 5-2 in those games.
Â• Bigelow made two three-pointers vs. UNLV in Provo to set a BYU record with 22 consecutive games with a trey. He has made two or more threes in 15 games, including a career-equaling 5 treys vs. Southern Utah. He had four threes vs. CSU, a conference-season high. He went 3-5 on threes vs. Utah Saturday.
Â• He averages 16.9 ppg at home and 12.1 ppg away.
ERIC NIELSEN / 6-9 Â• 215 Â• senior Â• forward
Â• A four-year starter, Nielsen is the only starter back from last year's NCAA team. His 55.2 career field goal percentage (334-605) is fifth all-time at BYU (No. 1 Alan Taylor, .574; No. 2 Gary Trost, .566, No. 3 Jared Miller and Russell Larson, .556). 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 63-28 (.692) record to date, including two postseason tournament berths.
Â• Nielsen is third on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg), second in rebounding (5.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (.528).
Â• He hit the game-winner vs. Utah, scoring 14 points.
Â• He has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 14 games. He has reached double digits 15 times this year.
Â• He had a season-high 9 rebounds vs. AFA Monday. He took only two shots in the game, scoring a season-low 2 pts.
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• He scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford, taking a career-high 16 attempts while making a new-best 11 shots.
Â• He has taken 195 shots this year, topping 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 7.8 attempts.
Â• He missed his only start at Air Force because he was ill. He did not attempt a shot for only time this year (3 pts).
Â• An Academic All-MWC and Cougar Scholar Athlete, Nielsen was named to the 2002 Verizon Academic All-District VIII team this year. He maintains a 3.26 GPA in Civil Engineering.
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 10.4 ppg.
Â• He shoots a team-leading and MWC-best 60.6 percent. He has 12 double figure games this year.
Â• He has played 20-plus minutes in 15 games. After 8 straight 20-plus outings, he played a season-low 7 minutes at Utah and has only had three 20-minute games in the last seven. He had 14 points vs. AFA and 9 points vs. Utah.
Â• At Utah, he got in foul trouble and played limited minutes because of matchups. He did not score for only the second time this year (first time was at Pepperdine). He has failed to make a field goal three times this year (at Pepperdine, at Utah and vs. CSU).
Â• He had perhaps the best game of his young career at Air Force when he scored a career-high 20 points, going 6-10 from the floor and 8-9 from the line. He also added 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
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. He made a career-best FT percentage vs. AFA Monday, going 8-8.
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 (6.9). 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 played 20 minutes once in the last seven games (at SDSU). He played a season-low 5 vs. Utah Saturday. He averages 19.4 minutes overall. He played a career-high 33 minutes with 12 points and four rebounds in the season-opener at USD.
Â• He did not take a shot for the first time this year vs. UNM.
Â• Five of his seven double figures games have been on the road, including 12 at USD, 10 vs. Stanford in two wins.
Â• With Eric Nielsen sick, he got his only start at Air Force, playing 21 minutes, taking only 1 shot, scoring 2 points.
Â• He shoots a MWC-best 90.5 percent (14th nationally) from the line and had a string of 27 straight free throws until missing his last attempt at Utah (all-time BYU record is 32 by Michael Smith). Bobik's free throw string extended over 17 games (began vs. ASU). He set career bests in all three free throw categories, going 8-8 vs. CS 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 had 2 points on a dunk in only 4 minutes last Saturday vs. UNM and three rebounds in only five minutes at SDSU. He had 2 rebounds in only 2 minutes vs. AFA on Monday. He played only a minute vs. Utah.
Â• He blocked Brian Greene's shot with seconds left to help BYU preserve its three-point lead over CSU at home. 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 18 games, but played a season-high 22 minutes at UNLV (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 in Provo. 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 six 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 had not appeared in any conference games until playing one minute vs. AFA on Monday. He had not appeared in 11 straight contests until his late duty on Monday.
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, consequently, will likely not factor into any 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. He is a career 15-22 (.682) from the floor in his two seasons, including 7-11 this year.
Â• Howard has appeared in 16 games overall this season. Last year, Howard played in 14 games in limited action.
Â• He has played his most significant time in the last four games. He had an important dunk and rebound late, along with a free throw vs. Utah Saturday. He played 10 minutes vs AFA with 5 boards, and 12 minutes, including a nice tip-in follow to help BYU come back on UNM, last Saturday. At SDSU he had career highs in points (8), rebounds (7), steals (1) and minutes (19) and equaled his career bests in field goals (3), field goal attempts (3), field goal percentage (3-3, 1.000), free throws (2), and free throw percentage (2-2, 1.000). While his offensive numbers were good, his biggest contribution was on the defensive end. He was able to significantly slow down SDSU's Randy Holcomb, who had a huge first half for the Aztecs. Howard's action in the past two games is his first extended minutes in games still in question since playing a season-high 12 minutes at San Francisco last season.
Â• He started the season-opener at USD, the only 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. He played a 13 minutes in each game.
Â• He has played double-digit minutes six times this year, including the last four straight games.
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 taken off 40 pounds since returning from his mission. He is a talented post player who has the tools to be a strong contributor in the future. 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 20 games, including the last 19 straight. He has grabbed a rebound in 16 of 20 games and has scored in 11 of his 20 games.
Â• He is 13-26 (.500) from the floor.
Â• After three straight scoreless games, he scored 5 points and had 2 rebounds in 8 minutes vs. UNM. He recorded his first steal of the year and equaled a season-high 4 field goal attempts. He had 2 points vs. AFA.
Â• He played a season-high 19 minutes vs. Wyoming, scoring a career-high 8 points.
Â• At Utah, 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.
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 trouble.
Â• He had four points and season-high four boards in 13 minutes at UNM. He also had 4 boards 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 32 percent on threes. Almost half of his attempts are three-pointers.
Â• He had 8 points in seven minutes at SDSU last Monday. He scored six points in five minutes vs. Wyoming on a three-pointer and a spectacular oldfashion three-point play on a reverse layin.
Â• Balderson has played in 22 games. He played a season-high 23 minutes at Air Force, with 14 points, 6 rebounds. His 14 points at Air Force is his highest total vs. a Division I team.
Â• He has reached double figures three times. In addition to 14 points at AFA, 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 had career highs in rebounds (7) and steals (3), sharing team-high honors.
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 seven games, averaging 9.0 points in 16.0 minutes in those games.
Â• He had a string of 14 consecutive made free throws come to an end at SDSU, going 4-5 from the line. He missed the first of three attempts after being fouled on a three-point attempt with 1.7 seconds remaining.
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 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 17 games, but has played only one minute in eight of those games.
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 recorded a career-high 3 points, going 3-6 from the line, playing five minutes vs. CSUN .
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 (84-65 in fifth year)
Steve Cleveland is in his fifth season at the helm of the Cougars. In his five seasons 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.