PROVO, Utah -- Riding a season-best seven-game winning streak, BYU (19-7, 9-4 MWC) travels to Las Vegas to face UNLV (16-10, 7-6 MWC) Saturday in a 12:30 p.m. PST (1:30 p.m. MST) tip at the Thomas & Mack Center. The game is being televised on ABC throughout the West and is available nationally via ESPN Full Court. The radio broadcast of the game can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160, beginning with a one-hour pregame show. Live audio and live stats are available online by selecting the basketball schedule page of the official BYU athletics website, byucougars.com. Live audio is also available on KSL.com, via BYU Radio on the Dish Network and at byuradio.org.
GAME #27 FAST FACTS (MWC GAME #14)
BYU COUGARS (19-7, 9-4 MWC) @ UNLV REBELS (16-10, 7-6 MWC)
SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2004
THOMAS & MACK CENTER (18,500)
LAS VEGAS, NEV.
12:30 p.m. PST (1:30 p.m. MST)
BYU, Steve Cleveland (127-85 in seventh year; same overall)
UNLV, Jay Spoonhour (interim coach 4-1 in first season; third season overall at UNLV)
Series tied, 8-8; First meeting this year: BYU edged the Rebels 64-61 in Provo on Feb. 7
ABC-TV (KTVX, ABC-4 in Utah; also available on ABC stations throughout the Mountain West, West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii)
Available nationally via ESPN Full Court
Air Time: 12:30 p.m. PST (1:30 p.m. MST)
Play-by-Play: Bob Carpenter
Game Analyst: Tim McCormick
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time: 11:30 a.m. PST (12:30 p.m. MST)
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Mark Durrant
Live stats and audio links are available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2003-04 schedule); audio also available on KSL.com and via BYU Radio on the Dish Network and at byuradio.org.
The Cougars (19-7, 9-4) has won a season-best seven straight games and are second in the MWC standings, having already wrapped up the No. 2 seed in next week's MWC Tournament. The preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference, BYU finished nonconference play with a 10-3 record, including the Cable Car Classic title and wins over nationally ranked Oklahoma State and the Pac-10's USC. BYU returns four starters from last year's 23-9 co-championship team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Four-year starter Mark Bigelow and fellow senior Rafael Araujo were both named to the Preseason All-MWC Team. Senior guard Kevin Woodberry and junior forward Jared Jensen were starters last season but primarily come off the bench this year. Newcomers include junior transfer Mike Hall and freshmen Garner Meads, Mike Rose and Austin Ainge. Araujo is averaging 18.3 points and 9.8 rebounds to lead BYU this year. Bigelow adds 13.9 points and 3.7 rebounds while Hall contributes 12.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. First-year starter Luiz Lemes, a senior combo guard in his second year in Provo, leads the team in assists (4.5). As a team, the Cougars shoot a MWC-best .486 from the floor, .348 on threes, and .721 from the line while scoring 73.3 points per game. BYU allows 64.2 points while the opposition has shot .443 from the field and .337 from behind the arc. BYU has an average rebounding advantage of 5.6.
UNLV returns four letterwinners, including three starters, from last year's team that finished 21-11 overall, tied for third in the Mountain West Conference with an 8-6 league record, and advanced to the NIT for the second consecutive year. This year UNLV has a 16-10 record overall and a 7-6 league mark, having wrapped up the No. 4 seed in next week's MWC Tournament. UNLV is 12-3 at home this year and 4-7 away, with a 5-1 home record in MWC play and a 2-5 road ledger. UNLV has won its last five games at home since Utah defeated the Rebels in Las Vegas to open MWC play. The Runnin'Rebels are coming off a road split, losing by two points at Air Force before defeating New Mexico. The Rebels have won four of their last five games since Jay Spoonhour took over as interim coach after his father and longtime Division I coach Charlie Spoonhour resigned for health reasons. Jay Spoonhour has been an assistant for three years at UNLV since coming to Las Vegas when his father took over the program. Jay came to the Runnin' Rebel program after serving one season as a junior college head coach at Wabash Valley College of Mt. Carmel, Ill., where he coached the Warriors to the 2001 NJCAA National Championship with a record of 36-1. Their success gained Jay the NABC National Coach of the Year, the NJCAA National Coach of the Year, the Region XXIV Coach of the Year, the District IV Coach of the Year and NJCAA Coach of the Tournament awards. The Rebels are led in scoring and rebounding by 6-7 junior forward Odartey Blankson, who is averaging a double-double of 17.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg. Three other players average double figures in scoring with 6-7 junior swingman Romel Beck averaging 14.4 ppg, 6-8 senior forward J.K. Edwards adding 12.5 ppg and 5-10 point guard Jerel Blassingame contributing 10.7 ppg. Blassingame, perhaps the quickest player in the league, was named MWC Player of the Week on Monday. Edwards is second on the team in rebounding at 6.2 rpg after missing the first six games of the year to a suspension. Louis Amundson, a 6-9 sophomore forward, is third on the team in rebounding, pulling down 4.5 boards and adding 5.0 points while primarily coming off the bench. Senior Demetrius Hunter hasn't started the last two games after 24 starts. The 6-2 guard 6-2 contributes 7.2 points and is second on the team with 36 treys. As a team, the Rebels are shooting .475 from the floor, 347 on threes, and .702 on free throws. UNLV opponents have combined to shoot .432 from the field and .325 on threes. The Rebels are scoring 74.3 points and allowing 70.7. Opponents have had an small edge over UNLV on the boards at 35.5-34.0.
UNLV's LAST OUTING -- REBELS HOLD OFF NEW MEXICO FOR ROAD WIN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Odartey Blankson scored 11 straight points late in the second half and finished with a career-high 28 in UNLV's 78-75 win over New Mexico Monday night. Blankson's scoring spree over a period of less than three minutes put the Rebels (16-10, 7-6 MWC) over the top in the up-tempo game that saw the two teams combine for 18 3-pointers while putting up 125 shots. UNLV held off New Mexico (14-12, 5-8) behind point guard Jerel Blassingame's five straight points inside of two minutes and Demetrius Hunter's two free throws with 17.9 seconds left. Blankson, who also had 12 rebounds, was 4-for-4 on 3-pointers and 7-for-9 shooting overall in the second half. Hunter's free throws, which followed an off-balance 3-pointer by New Mexico's Javin Tindall with 18.7 seconds left, were the last points of the game. New Mexico put up three 3-pointers in the final seconds, but all missed. Troy DeVries' 3 rimmed out, and teammate Danny Granger rebounded the miss and passed it to an open Tindall at the top of the key. Tindall's 3-pointer also rimmed out, but again Granger got the rebound. With only a couple of seconds left, Granger dribbled out to behind the arc and put a 3 at the buzzer that sailed long. Granger led New Mexico with 23 points and 9 rebounds. Tindall added 17 points and a career-high 5 steals. New Mexico took a 64-62 lead after Rebels center J.K. Edwards fouled out with 5:56 left and the UNLV bench was assessed a technical foul for protesting the call. Tindall hit one of the two technical foul shots and Granger, who was fouled by Edwards, hit both of his free throws. Blankson, who had given UNLV a 62-61 lead with a basket moments earlier, then took over. He hit a 15-footer, a layup, a 3-pointer and another 15-footer for a 71-68 UNLV lead with 3:41 remaining. After Tindall's late 3-pointer got New Mexico within 76-75, Hunter was fouled on the inbound play. He swished through both free throws, his only points of the game.
UNLV'S PROJECTED STARTERS (based on last game)
POS. # NAME HT. WT. YR. PPG RPG
F 0 Odartey Blankson 6-7 220 Jr. 17.2 10.4
F 5 J.K. Edwards 6-8 250 Sr. 12.5 6.2
F 11 James Peters 6-8 215 Sr. 6.4 3.1
G 3 Romel Beck 6-7 185 Jr. 14.4 2.1
G 10 Jerel Blassingame 5-10 170 Jr. 10.7 1.7
This will be the 17th meeting in the series between the two schools that dates back to 1981. The series has been a close one with BYU having evened the series at 8-8 with its 64-61 win in Provo this year. The series has been tied six times over the years, and the two teams have split the regular season series with home wins each of the past three years. BYU has a chance to take only its second lead in the series with a win in Las Vegas on Saturday. The Cougars won the first two meetings in the series in 1981 before the Rebels ran off four straight victories.BYU last won in Las Vegas and went on to sweep the two regular season meetings in 1999-2000. The Rebels came back that year to achieved their largest margin of victory over BYU (23 points) in the title game of the 2000 MWC Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. BYU is 6-2 in Provo against UNLV and 2-6 in Las Vegas against the Rebels. BYU has won six of the 10 games as MWC opponents.
BYU vs. UNLV SERIES BREAKDOWN
Overall Series Record: Tied, 8-89
BYU Record in Provo: 6-2
BYU Record in Las Vegas: 2-6
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 6-6
BYU Record in Overtime Games: 1-0 (1-0 in Las Vegas)
Last Overtime Game: 1981, won in 2OT in LV, 92-90
Longest BYU Win Streak: 2 (1981, 2000)
Longest UNLV Win Streak: 4 (1981-98)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 28, 91-63 in 2001
Largest UNLV Margin of Victory: 23, 79-56 in 2000
Most Points Scored by BYU: 92 in 1981
Most Points Scored by UNLV: 90 in 1981
RECENT RECAPS VS. UNLV
THIS YEAR AT BYU -- HALL'S LATE-GAME HEROICS SEAL VICTORY OVER REBELS
PROVO -- Mike Hall's block of Demetrius Hunter and two free throws with 2.7 seconds left helped the Cougars seal a 64-61 victory over UNLV Saturday afternoon at the Marriott Center. Cleveland said he was pleased with his team's performance, even though the game wasn't very pretty. He said he felt his team showed a lot of toughness and resolve in winning the close contest. Both teams started the game off cold with BYU making only three field goals in the first 10 minutes, falling behind 10-7, before reeling off a 16-4 run to take a nine-point lead with just over five minutes to play in the first half. During the run, Hall and Rafael Araujo scored six points each while Mark Bigelow added four. The Cougars would extend their lead to 11 points in the opening half before the Rebels cut it back down to nine at the break. UNLV came out of the locker room determined, cutting the BYU's lead to just one at 40-39, before the Cougars ran off nine straight points to extend their advantage to 10 points. But the Rebels were not going to go away. UNLV kept the game close and eventually took the lead at 61-60 on two Odartey Blankson free throws with 41 seconds to go. BYU would reclaim the lead for good at 62-61 on two Bigelow free throws, setting the stage for Hall's heroics to put the game away. BYU shot 87.5 percent from the line, including a perfect 10-for-10 for Hall and 4-of-4 from Luiz Lemes. Araujo led the Cougars in scoring, finishing the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds to record his 12th double-double of the season, and Lemes added a career-high 10 assists. Araujo is now tied for fourth nationally in double-double games, while Lemes becomes the first Cougar to record double-digit assists since BYU all-time assist leader Matt Montague dished out 12 vs. UC Irvine in 2002. On the strength of his free throw shooting, Hall added 16 points while Bigelow chipped in 13. UNLV was led by Blankson's 15-point, 12-rebound performance. J.K. Edwards also added a double-double for the Rebels with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while UNLV point guard Jarel Blassingame scored 12 points and dished out a team-leading five assists. With the victory BYU improves to 3-4 in conference and 13-7 overall, ending a three-game losing skid. UNLV falls to 12-7 and 3-4.
WHAT COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE FIRST MEETING IN PROVO THIS YEAR ...
"I thought it (the block) was a great individual effort. Someone has to make plays at the end to win a close game. I thought it was the most meaningful play of the game. A win like this means a lot more than coming in and winning by 15 (the Cougars had won their prior eight home games this year by an average of 24 points, with the closest margin being 14). Hopefully something like this will give us the confidence we need to get back playing well."
LAST YEAR AT UNLV -- POOR SHOOTING, TURNOVERS DOOM COUGARS
LAS VEGAS -- The UNLV Runnin' Rebels didn't show any love to BYU Valentine's night in Las Vegas, handing the Cougars their first conference road loss of the season 61-54. BYU played well defensively and out-rebounded UNLV 47-31 on the night, but its 23 turnovers were the most since the team lost at Creighton 74-64 earlier this season. BYU held UNLV to 40 percent shooting in their own gym, including 25 percent from behind the three-point arc. The Cougars' poor shooting and a season-high-equaling 23 turnovers led to their lowest scoring output of the season. BYU shot a season-low 34.5 percent as a team from the field and 25 percent from the three-point line. Marcus Banks and Dalron Johnson led UNLV with 19 points apiece. Johnson did most of his scoring before intermission, while Banks took over in the second half. Travis Hansen led BYU with 18 points. The only other Cougar in double figures was Jared Jensen with 12 points. Cleveland said the team looked tired, having played their third game in seven days. The game was tied at 27 after one half, and featured six lead changes and six ties. UNLV scored first in the second half, and never trailed the rest of the game. The Rebels pushed the lead to 16 in the second half before the Cougars cut it to seven to end the game. Junior forward Mark Bigelow was held scoreless in the first half, and finished the game with only four points, on 1-14 shooting (0-6 three pointers). Bigelow came in shooting 45 percent from the floor and 51 percent on threes in league games, and 44 percent on field goals and 48 percent on threes overall. The loss drops BYU to 6-2 in conference play and 17-6 overall.
WHAT BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY AFTER THE GAME IN LAS VEGAS LAST YEAR ...
"Turnovers and missed shots are a bad combination; you can't do that on the road and expect to win. We haven't practiced very much this week, and obviously it caught up with us tonight."
UP NEXT FOR BYU
BYU enters the 2004 MWC Men's basketball Championship in Denver, Colo., as the No. 2 seed. Game matchups and times will be announced Saturday evening. The tournament is being played at the Pepsi Center, March 11-13.
MEDIA RECEPTION WEDNESDAY
The Metro Denver Sports Commission will be sponsoring a media reception, Wednesday, March 10th from9-11 p.m. at NikeTown (500 16th Street -- 16th Street Mall, Denver, 303/623-6453). A 2004 Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships credential will be required for admittance.
The pairings for the MWC Tournament will be announced Saturday evening. Listed below are the scheduled game times for the three-day championship.
THURSDAY, March 11
1 p.m. Men's Quarterfinal Game #1 (ESPN+Plus)
3:30 p.m. Men's Quarterfinal Game #2 (ESPN+Plus)
7 p.m. Men's Quarterfinal Game #3 (ESPN+Plus)
10 p.m. Men's Quarterfinal Game #4 (ESPN)
FRIDAY, March 12
7 p.m. Men's Semifinal Game #5 (ESPN+Plus)
10 p.m. Men's Semifinal Game #6 (ESPN)
SATURDAY, March 13
8 p.m. Men's Championship Game (ESPN)
As of Wednesday, BYU is the top-rated MWC team in RPI according to Collegiate Basketball News and CBSSportsline.com. BYU is 32nd (Sportsline) and 34th (CBN). BYU has played the toughest schedule among MWC teams, with a No. 40 (CBN) and No. 50 (Sportsline) rating. The MWC is rated seventh as a league by CBN.
GAME 26 RECAP -- BYU DOWNS UTAH TO EXTEND VICTORY STREAK, SECURE NO. 2 SEED
PROVO -- Rafael Araujo led four Cougars (17-7, 7-4) scoring in double figures with 18 points while grabbing eight rebounds as the Cougars defeated New Mexico (13-10, 4-6) 88-71 Saturday night in front of 18,367 screaming fans at the Marriott Center. The Lobos used an early 9-0 run to jump out to a seven-point lead before the Cougars outscored New Mexico 22-3 to give BYU the lead for good at 32-23. New Mexico would pull within two points just before the half before Luiz Lemes buried a three to put BYU up by five at the half. The Cougars shot well in the first half, hitting 53.6 percent of their shots, including 50 percent from behind the arc. BYU didn't cool off in the second half, opening the half on a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach. Senior forward Mark Bigelow helped ignite the Cougar run, scoring nine of his 16 points during the run. The Cougars finished the game shooting a red-hot 60 percent from the floor and a season-high 52.3 from three-point land. Fan-favorite Mike Rose entered the game in the second half and promptly hit three of his four attempts from three-point range for nine points. The Lobos and Cougars tied a Marriott Center record set last year by the same two teams with a combined 23 three-pointers. The Lobos went 14-of-32 (.438) while BYU finished 9-of-17 from long range. "Certainly, offensively I felt like we got the touches I wanted and we shot well," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "We had good movement." BYU also had an excellent game on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Lobos to just 41.1 percent from the floor. Mike Hall frustrated New Mexico's Danny Granger, who lit up the Cougars for 27 points in their previous meeting, holding him nearly 12 points below his average with just nine points. "I thought Mike Hall played extremely well," said Cleveland, who now has the second most victories by a BYU coach in the Marriott Center with an 82-18 record. "Guarding Granger is not easy and he responded really well. It was a solid win. It was exactly what we needed. We had a lot of guys step up and play well." Besides his excellent defense, Hall poured in 16 points and grabbed five rebounds. Lemes was BYU's fourth player to score in double figures, finishing with 12 points. Troy DeVries led the Lobos with 16 points on the strength of 5-of-9 three-point shooting. Javin Tindall contributed 12 points, including three treys.
GAME 25 RECAP -- COUGARS KNOCK OFF FIRST-PLACE AIR FORCE
PROVO -- BYU kept its perfect home season intact Monday night, knocking off first-place Air Force 67-61 at the Marriott Center. The Cougars' sluggish offense came to life late in the second half behind stellar performances from seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo. Bigelow scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 1:11 that sealed the win and moved him into eighth place on BYU's all-time scoring list. Araujo was a goliath in the paint, also notching 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field. "Bigelow and Araujo played excellent games for us tonight," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "It was a great college game for both teams." The win pushes the Cougars' winning streak to six games and improves their record to 18-7 (8-4 in the MWC). The Falcons fell to 19-5 (9-2 MWC). BYU has won 17 in a row at the Marriott Center and 61 out of its last 62. "Tonight the pressure was on them," Falcons coach Joe Scott said. "They did a good job when they were down to come back." In the first half BYU sprinted to an early 6-0 lead. However, poor shooting and foul trouble for Araujo kept the Cougars' offense sputtering. BYU ended the half trailing 26-23, shooting 0-4 on threes and 5-10 on free throws. The second half started out in the same fashion until reserve guard Mike Rose hit a three-pointer six minutes in. His basket sparked a surge in the Cougar offense, with Bigelow tying the game at 41 on a baseline jumper with 11 minutes left. On the next possession, a driving lay-up by senior forward Jake Shoff gave BYU its first lead since the first half. The Cougars never trailed again. Steady shooting down the stretch iced the game for BYU. The Cougars shot a season-high 64 percent from the field, including a lights-out 82.4 percent in the second half when the Cougars made all 13 of their attempts from inside the three-point arc. BYU also sank 15-of-18 foul shots in the second half. BYU has historically dominated the match-up, taking 41 out of 50 games. However, times have changed as Air Force has emerged as a MWC powerhouse this season. The Falcons defeated the Cougars 74-52 on Jan. 24. "In the past Air Force hasn't been as good as they are this year," Cleveland said. "But, this year they are hitting on all cylinders." Nick Welch led the Falcons with 16 points, while Tim Keller scored 14 and Antoine Hood added 10.
ON A ROLL
BYU has won a season-best seven straight games, the team's longest victory streak since winning eight straight in 2001-02. That eight-game streak included a win over No. 13 Stanford at the Las Vegas Showdown at the Thomas & Mack Center. BYU's current seven-game victory streak is the longest for the Cougars during regular-season MWC play under Steve Cleveland.
BYU PRODUCING IN TRANSITION
BYU has pushed the ball more during its current seven-game winning streak. The Cougars averaged 3.7 fast-break points to their opponents' 2.0 transition points over the first six MWC games, posting a 2-4 record. In the last seven games -- all victories, BYU has scored 11.6 points per game in transition, while opponents have averaged 2.8 fast-break points. BYU held a 12-0 advantage over Utah Monday in fast-break points. In BYU's win at CSU, BYU held a 19-0 advantage in that category with several offensive explosions produced in transition.
BYU's defense has helped start its break, coming up with double-digit steals in five of the last seven games, including 11 vs. Utah Monday. BYU has had three other games this season with 10 or more thefts (CSU in Provo, ISU and Weber State) and all were wins. BYU leads the MWC in steals in league play, with Rafael Araujo (2.08), Mike Hall (1.92) and Luiz Lemes (1.38) ranking No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5, respectively.
CONVERTING ON THE ROAD
BYU enters the UNLV game with a 6-7 record away from the friendly confines of the Marriott Center, where the Cougars have shot 50 percent from the floor while going a perfect 13-0 this season. Every player on the team but Terry Nashif (3-12, .250) shot 45 percent or better in the Marriott Center this year. BYU has made a solid 46.6 percent of its shots away from home this year, where the Cougars have a scoring dificit of less than a single point and have suffered four losses in the final minute of play. A key shot from the perimeter on the road could be the difference for the Cougars. Among the players who could be called upon to make a big shot are three guards who have shot significantly better at home this year. Kevin Woodberry has made 48.8 percent (22-45) at home compared to .343 (23-67) away from Provo. Luiz Lemes was successful on his Marriott Center attempts at a .466 (41-88) rate compared to .366 ( 26-71), while Mike Rose shoots .474 (27-57) at home and .300 (6-20) away.
FOCUS ON FINISHING
With its current seven-game victory streak, the Cougars have gone from a tie at the bottom of the MWC standings at 2-4 to second place at 9-4. The Cougars have traditionally finished strong under Steve Cleveland to earn postseason bids. They have shared the conference regular season title in two of the last three years. BYU has avanced to the finals of the MWC Tournament in two of the four seasons, claiming the championship in 2001. With its solid RPI rating and strong finish to the regular season, BYU has enhanced its opportunity to obtain its third NCAA bid of the last four seasons.
COUGARS LOOKING FOR THIRD STRAIGHT ROAD VICTORY
BYU is looking to win its third straight road game. In its last two road games, BYU swept the Wyoming-CSU road trip for the second straight season. The last time BYU swept the Front Range in back-to-back years was in 1972 and 1973. BYU last won at CSU in consecutive years 10 years ago during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons. BYU last won consecutive trips to Wyoming in 1994-95 and 1995-96. BYU's last win at UNLV was in the both team's first-ever MWC game, a 77-75 Cougar win on Jan. 10, 2000.
PLAYER PERFORMANCE NOTABLES
Make Hall made 8-of-10 shots on his way to a game-high 21 points in BYU's win over Utah ... Rafael Araujo went 9-for-10 scoring 21 points while Mark Bigelow made 7-of-10 shots to also score 21 points in BYU's win over league-leading Air Force ... Mike Hall scored 16 points and held UNM's Danny Granger to only 9 points and 3 rebounds, while Mark Bigelow made 6-of-8 shots for 16 points vs. the Lobos ... Jake Shoff scored a season-high nine points in only 12 minutes at CSU, sparking a key BYU run with an offensive put-back off a free throw miss followed on the other end with a block to start a BYU break ... Rafael Araujo recorded his 13th double-double of the year against the Rams with 21 points and 12 boards ... Mark Bigelow made a season-high 4 treys on his way to a game-high 21 points at Wyoming ... Kevin Woodberry played a strong game, holding Jay Straight to five points on 2-0f-9 shooting, twice blocking his three-point attempts. He added a season-high 5 rebounds with 6 points on the offensive end ... Freshman Garner Meads had a career-high 19 points along with 8 boards vs. SDSU ... Mike Hall recorded a personal-best 5 steals while scoring 20 points. He extended his free-throw streak to 18 straight before a miss, going 8-for-9 on the night ... Against UNLV, Luiz Lemes recorded a career-high 10 assists ... At Utah, Mark Bigelow scored a season-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including three triples. Bigelow pullled down a season-high nine rebounds the prior outing at New Mexico ... Mike Hall also scored 21 points, one below his season-high, and Araujo recorded a double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds) against the Lobos ... Bigelow scored a 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting at Air Force ... Meads recorded his first double-double with career highs of 13 points and 10 rebounds vs. Wyoming in Provo ... Bigelow dished out a career-best 9 assists vs. the Cowboys ... Against CSU, Jared Jensen tied his career-high 10 rebounds, Terry Nashif set a new personal best of 6 rebounds, and Austin Ainge got his first extended playing time, logging 10 minutes and scoring a career-best 6 points while dishing out a high of 2 assists.
ARAUJO EARNS THIRD MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR THIS SEASON (Feb. 16-22)
BYU senior center Rafael Araujo averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds last week to earn Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors for the third time this season. He also averaged 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks. Araujo, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, led BYU to two wins last week and helped extend the Cougars current win streak to five games. The victories came at Colorado State (79-73) and at home vs. New Mexico (88-71). Against New Mexico, Araujo had game highs of 18 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes of action. He went 7-of-13 from the floor, and added three blocks. He recorded his 13th double-double of the year at Colorado State, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 boards to lead BYU to a rare sweep of the Front Range road trip (CSU and Wyoming). Araujo's 13 double-doubles currently rank tied for fifth in the nation. Araujo came up with a game-high four steals against the Rams to help ignite a BYU fast break that produced a 19-0 advantage over the Rams in transition. He shot 7-of-17 from the floor and 7-of-10 from the line.
ARAUJO RATES HIGH IN MWC STATISTICS
Senior center Rafael Araujo is in the top-10 in eight categories in the MWC, including six top-4 rankings. Among MWC players entering Saturday's final games, he is No. 2 scorer, No. 2 in steals, No. 2 in defensive rebounds, No. 4 in total rebounds, No. 4 in offensive rebounds, No. 4 in field goal percentage, No. 6 in field goal percentage, No. 9 in blocks, and No. 14 in free throw percentage. Araujo leads all MWC players in steals in league games.
HALL NAMED MWC CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Feb. 9-15)
BYU's Mike Hall and Utah's Tim Drisdom were named Co-Mountain West Conference Players of the Week Monday after leading their respective teams to 2-0 records last week. Hall, a junior guard from San Bernardino, Calif., shot 68.8 percent from the floor (11-of-16) and 82 percent from the free throw line (9-of-11), while averaging 16.5 points, three rebounds and three steals in two games last week. He scored a team-high 20 points in BYU's overtime win against San Diego State (83-69) last Monday. Hall connected on 6-of-10 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws, while grabbing five rebounds and recording a career-high five steals. He made 5-of-6 shots, including 2-of-3 treys, to score 13 points as BYU earned its first conference road win of the season at Wyoming Saturday, 67-53. A first-team NJCAA All-American at Dixie State College last year, Hall is BYU's third-leading scorer and rebounder in his first season in Provo, helping the Cougars to their current 16-7 record. This is the first MWC Player of the Week honor for Hall.
CLEVELAND NO. 2 ON MARRIOTT CENTER VICTORY LIST
Cougar head coach Steve Cleveland has guided BYU to the second-most Marriott Center wins. He needs nine more Marriott Center wins to have the most ever by a BYU coach. With his 84-18 record in the Cougars' home arena, he is currently second, having passed Frank Arnold's 81 victories with his win vs. New Mexico. Roger Reid has the most Marriott Center wins with 92. Ladell Andersen is fourth with 71. With BYU's seventh win this season, Cleveland moved into fifth on BYU's career coaching victories list. He moved past Ladell Andersen (114-71 record from 1983-89). Cleveland now has a 127-85 record in his seventh season in Provo. Legendary Cougar coach Stan Watts has the most wins in school history with 372 triumphs from 1949-72. Ott Romney (1927-35) and Roger Reid (1989-96) both achieved 152 victories and Frank Arnold (1975-83) is fourth with 137 wins.
ARAUJO NAMED TO NABC DISTRICT 13 FIRST TEAM
The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) have announced the NABC Division I All-District Teams recognizing the country's best men's collegiate basketball student-athletes. The 150 student-athletes, from 15 districts, are now eligible for the NABC Division I All-American Team to be announced at the conclusion of the 2003-2004 season. BYU center Rafael Araujo was selected to the District 13 First Team. Last year BYU's Travis Hansen earned first-team honors. Former Cougar Mekeli Wesley was a first-teamer in 2001, the same year Terrell Lyday was a second-team selection.
ARAUJO SELECTED TO WOODEN AWARD MIDSEASON TOP 30 LIST
Senior Rafael Araujo has been selected as one of the top-30 candidates for the Wooden Award Player of the Year and All-America Team by the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Committee. On March 30, the 10-player Wooden All-America Team will be announced. One member of the team will be selected April 10 to receive the Wooden Award as the nation's "Most Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year." BYU's Danny Ainge was recognized as the nation's top player in 1981 when he received the Wooden Award.
ARAUJO AMONG NATION'S MOST PRODUCTIVE PLAYERS
Araujo has the fourth-highest combined scoring and rebounding averages among players nationally who are averaging a double-double this year. Kris Humphries of Minnesota, Emeka Okafor of Connecticut and Jaime Lloreda of Louisiana State are the only players averaging more combined points and rebounds than Araujo. Araujo has 13 double-double games this year (tied for sixth in Division I) and 20 for his career. Araujo tied an MWC record by posting five consecutive double-doubles starting with the UVSC game until his streak ended with his 23 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes against Weber State. During his five-game double-double streak, Araujo averaged 26 points and 13.6 rebounds.
BYU has played 11 games this year where the outcome was in question entering the final minute. The Cougars have gone 7-4 in those games. BYU's four losses in close games have come by a combined nine points. BYU's 11 other wins have been by a margin of 13 or more points, with six being by more than 20 points, including two 30-plus point blowouts. BYU has suffered two blowout losses, a 27-point setback at North Carolina State and a 22-point defeat at Air Force. BYU is 18-0 when leading with five minutes remaining and 18-1 when holding the advantage or it is tied with one minute left in the game.
COUGAR OPPONENTS HAVING STRONG SEASONS
BYU has played two of the nation's hottest teams this year, handing No. 7 Oklahoma State (22-3 ) one of its three losses and losing by two points at No. 21 Utah State (24-2). The seven teams to beat BYU this year have almost 70 percent of thier games. In addition to Oklahoma State and Utah State, BYU opponent NC State is also nationally ranked in the top 25.
ON THE ROAD
BYU is 6-7 away from the Marriott Center this year with a 4-7 away record and a 2-0 neutral court mark. BYU played one stretch this year of 8-of-11 games on the road. For the second straight season, the Cougars played more nonconference games away from Provo than they did in the friendly confines of the Marriott Center. This year, BYU played six games at home and seven out-of-town contests while going 10-3 in nonconference. BYU went 6-0 at home and 4-3 away from Provo, with a 2-0 neutral court mark and a 2-3 record in an opponent's arena. Among those games included a neutral court win over then No. 25 Oklahoma State; a win at Boise State; and a victory over host Santa Clara to win the Cable Car Classic. Last season BYU played seven home games and eight away from the Marriott Center while earning an 11-4 record before starting Mountain West Conference play. BYU finished 4-4 away from home last year during nonconference play. The Cougars went 3-1 on a neutral floor, including a 3-0 mark to win the Paradise Jam, and were 1-3 in true away games, with a win over Arizona State.
IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER
BYU is a pefect 13-0 at home this year and has won 18 straight overall in the Marriott Center. BYU has won 62 of its last 63 games at home and is 57-1 over the past four seasons. BYU won a school-record 44 straight home games in the Marriott Center before losing to Utah, 79-75, on Jan. 25. The streak was the longest active streak in the country over parts the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. BYU continues its string of nonconference home wins.
NONCONFERENCE VICTORY STREAK IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER
The Cougars have defeated 40 straight non-conference opponents in the Marriott Center since starting the streak with a 61-59 win over Utah State on Jan. 2, 1999. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998.
COUGAR FANS SHOWING SUPPORT
BYU averaged 15,300 in 13 home games this year. BYU had a season-high 22,718 attendance vs. Utah Monday, the largest crowd since 1992 and the 21st largest ever in the Marriott Center. Last year BYU averaged the 17th largest crowd in the nation overall at 14,468.
SHOOTING, REBOUNDING SUCCESS
BYU has outshot its opponents in 20 of 26 games this year. BYU is 17-3 when when it shoots better and 2-4 when the opposition has the better touch. On the boards, BYU has had the upper hand in 18 of 26 games. BYU is 15-3 when winning the rebound battle.
BYU's win over San Diego State was the Cougars' first overtime game of the season. BYU's last OT game was an 86-80 OT loss to Colorado State in the MWC tournament last year. The Cougars had lost four straight overtime contests prior to beating SDSU. BYU's prior overtime victory came at Florida International on Dec. 23, 1999. The Cougars had last played in an overtime game at home on Nov. 28, 1998, losing to the Arizona 78-74. BYU's last home win in overtime before the SDSU victory was on Jan. 26, 1995, against UTEP.
Facing then No. 25 Oklahoma State, BYU played its first top-25 ranked team this season. The victory over the (currently No. 7) Cowboys was BYU's first over a top-25 team since an 81-76 victory over No. 13 Stanford on Dec. 22, 2001 at the Las Vegas Showdown.
RECORD AGAINST TOP TEAMS
BYU is 9-5 this year against teams that qualified for postseason last year (21-point win over Weber State at home; five-point win over then No. 25 and current No. 7 Oklahoma State on a neutral floor; 29-point and six-point wins over CSU; two 14-point wins over Wyoming; three-point win over UNLV; 14-point OT win over SDSU; 13-point win over Utah; two-point loss at now nationally ranked Utah State; one-point loss at Cal, 27-point loss at nationally ranked North Carolina State, four-point loss at SDSU and eight-point setback at Utah). BYU finished last season with a 7-2 record against teams that were conference champions the prior season. BYU went 12-6 last year against teams that qualified for postseason play in 2002.
At home 18-0
On the road 2-0
On a neutral floor 2-0
At home vs. Nonconference 40-0
At home vs. MWC 12-0
On the road vs. Nonconference 0-1
On the road vs. MWC 2-0
On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 2-0
On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1
BYU STARTING LINEUPS RECORD
Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Meads, Araujo 11-3
Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Jensen, Araujo 4-2
Lemes, Woodberry, Hall, Bigelow, Araujo 3-0
Lemes, Woodberry, Bigelow, Jensen, Araujo 1-1
Nashif, Lemes, Hall, Bigelow, Araujo 0-1