MWC Player of the Year Keena Young will lead BYU into the MWC Tournament this week beginning with a quarterfinal game on Thursday in Las Vegas. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYU GAME #31 FAST FACTS
NO. 23 BYU COUGARS -- #1 SEED (23-7, 13-3 MWC)
TCU -- #8 SEED (13-16, 4-12 MWC)
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Thomas & Mack Center (18,500)
Noon PT (1 p.m. MT)
the mtn. (James Bates - play-by-play, Blaine Fowler - color)
KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (11 a.m. PT pregame show -- Greg Wrubell, play-by-play; Mark Durrant, game analysis)
Live video, live audio and live stats links are available at www.byucougars.com/basketball_m/
NO. 23 BYU OPENS MWC QUARTERFINALS THURSDAY AT NOON
As the No. 1 seed, No. 23 BYU (23-7, 13-3 MWC) will play in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals on Thursday at noon PT (1 p.m. MT) against No. 8-seed TCU (13-16, 4-12 MWC), who defeated No. 9-seed New Mexico (15-17, 4-12 MWC) Tuesday in Las Vegas. Thursday's game, which will be played at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, will be televised on the mtn. and can be heard live on the radio beginning with the pregame show at 11 a.m. PT (12 p.m. MT) on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM out of Salt Lake City or via the Internet at KSL.com. The Cougars earned the top seed in the MWC Tournament after winning their first regular-season outright title since 1987-88. They have won 18 of their last 21 games and are coming off an 85-62 win over Utah on Saturday to conclude the regular season.
If BYU wins, the Cougars will advance to the MWC semifinals and play the winner of Thursday's second quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Air Force and fifth-seeded Wyoming. BYU's semifinal game will be Friday at 6 p.m. and will be televised nationally on CSTV.
COUGAR QUICK HITS
-- BYU won its first outright league title since 1987-88 with a 13-3 MWC record this season.
-- Two-time MWC Coach of the Year Dave Rose is 43-16 overall at BYU and 25-7 in MWC play.
-- The Cougars are ranked No. 23 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll and the AP Top 25 Poll. BYU entered the national rankings on Feb. 19 for the first time since 1993 at No. 21 in the AP Top 25 rankings and No. 22 in the Coaches Poll. Previously, BYU was last ranked on March 8, 1993 at No. 25 (AP).
-- Coming off a win over Utah on Saturday, BYU has won 10 of its last 11 games, including three wins over ranked teams. BYU currently owns the nation's longest active home winning streak (31 games).
-- MWC Player of the Year Keena Young leads BYU this year in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (6.2). All-MWC Second Team selection Trent Plaisted is second on the boards (6.1) and in scoring (12.2), while All-MWC honorable mention recipient senior Austin Ainge leads BYU with 4.27 assists per game.
-- The Cougars lead the MWC in scoring (77.8), rebounding average (37.0), rebounding margin (+5.8) and assists (16.2) in overall play. In league games, in addition to finishing first in the standings, BYU led the conference in scoring (78.9), scoring margin (+9.7), field-goal percentage (.516), three-point shooting (.457), assists (16.75) and assist/turnover ratio (1.32).
-- BYU has an RPI rating of 20 in the various RPI rankings. BYU is ranked No. 8 in the nation in three-point shooting, No. 20 in field-goal percentage, No. 25 in rebound margin, No. 29 in scoring and No. 30 in scoring margin.
-- The Cougars are 17-0 at home this season, 6-6 on the road and 0-1 on a neutral court.
IN THE EIGHT YEARS OF THE MWC ...
-- BYU has had six 20-win seasons, leading all MWC schools. To date, Utah has had five, UNLV four, Air Force, Wyoming and San Diego State three and New Mexico two.
-- BYU has had the league's top RPI three times, been second twice (including current RPI ratings) and third on three occasions. The Cougars were third last year (67) behind Air Force (50) and San Diego State (56).
-- BYU has played the toughest schedule on average of any team in the MWC (BYU's average strength of schedule rating the first seven years the MWC was 66, followed by Utah at 78). So far this year, BYU's schedule is rated third behind Utah and UNLV. BYU had the league's toughest schedule in two of the previous three seasons.
-- BYU has the second-most overall wins (160, Utah leads at 166).
-- BYU is also second in conference wins (73, Utah has 75).
-- BYU has the second-most MWC regular-season titles (three). Utah leads with four.
-- BYU is one of six MWC teams to win the MWC Tournament title.
BYU IN THE TOURNAMENT
The Cougars have a 7-6 Mountain West Conference Tournament record. BYU advanced to the finals in the first two years of the MWC Tournament, winning the title over UNM in 2001 after losing to host UNLV in 2000. BYU has won its quarterfinals game in four of the seven MWC Tournaments but has failed to advance to the semifinals in the past two seasons. BYU has a 2-2 semifinals record and 1-1 finals record in MWC Tournament play. During the four previous years the MWC Tournament was played in Las Vegas (2000-2003), BYU posted a 6-3 tournament record, with two finals appearances and one title (2001). The Cougars won their quarterfinals matchup every year but one, losing to eventual-champion San Diego State in 2002. BYU had a 1-3 tournament record during the past three years when the championship was conducted in Denver. Overall, BYU has a 19-19 record in conference tournament games, which includes a 12-13 record in WAC Tournament games. BYU has played every MWC team except second-year member TCU in the MWC Tournament. BYU did face TCU in the 1999 WAC Tournament, recording a 90-74 upset.
MWC TITLE GOES THROUGH BYU
If the first six years of the Mountain West Tournament, BYU or the team that has knocked the Cougars out of the tournament won the title. Last year was the first time that trend did not continue as San Diego State won the title after BYU was knocked out by Utah in the quarterfinals. After losing in the title game to host UNLV at the inaugural MWC Tournament in 2000, BYU won the title in 2001. The next four years the Cougars were knocked out by the eventual champion. BYU was defeated by San Diego State in the 2002 quarterfinals before back-to-back semifinal losses to 2003-champion Colorado State and 2004-champion Utah. In 2005, New Mexico went on to win the title after defeating BYU in the quarterfinals.
SEVEN MWC TOURNAMENTS, SIX DIFFERENT CHAMPIONS
San Diego State became the first team in the MWC to win the Tournament title twice with its victories in 2002 and 2006. New Mexico's win in 2005 marked the sixth Tournament winner in the first six years of the event. The only teams not to win an MWC title are Wyoming, Air Force and TCU, who made its MWC debut last season.
BYU SEEDS AT MWC TOURNAMENT
BYU is the MWC Tournament's No. 1 seed for the first time. BYU has been the second seed three times (5-2 combined record in 2001, 2003 and 2004, including 2001 title). The 2006 Tournament was the first time that the Cougars have been the No. 3 seed in the MWC Tournament (first-round loss to Utah). The Cougars have also been the fourth seed once (suffering a first-round exit with loss to eventual-champion San Diego State in 2002), the sixth seed once (advanced to the finals in 2000) and the No. 7 seed once (2005 first-round loss to eventual-champion New Mexico).
FRUITS OF THE SEEDS
In the first seven years of the MWC Tournament, the teams with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds boast the best overall record as each has recorded a 10-5 mark. The No. 4 teams have gone 8-7. The No. 6 seeds have a combined 7-6 record while their first-round opponent No. 3 seeds have a 6-6 record. Fifth-seeded teams are 4-6. The No. 8 seed has a 1-0 record in play-in games and a 2-6 record overall. The No. 9 seed is 0-1 in the play-in game after the MWC's first season with nine teams. The No. 7 team won for the first time in 2006 and now has a 2-7 record. Last season marked the first time the No. 7 seed has advanced past the first round and the first time neither the No. 2 nor No. 3 seed advanced to the semifinals. The Tournament title has been won by the top seed twice (UNLV in 2000 and San Diego State in 2006); the second seed twice (BYU in 2001 and New Mexico in 2005); the third seed once (Utah in 2004); the fifth seed once (San Diego State in 2002); and the sixth seed once (Colorado State in 2004).
BYU TOURNAMENT TITLES
BYU won the MWC Tournament title in 2001. BYU won WAC Tournament titles in 1991 and 1992. The Cougars' Kevin Nixon hit a dramatic three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer to defeat UTEP, 73-71, in Fort Collins, Colo., for the 1992 title. BYU won its first WAC Tournament title in 1991 with an overtime win over Utah. The Cougars also won the postseason conference playoff series in the Rocky Mountain Conference in 1924 (defeated Colorado College, 2-1) and 1933 (defeated Wyoming, 2-1).
BYU'S SEES SIX HONORED WITH MWC ACCOLADES
The Mountain West Conference announced its 2006-07 men's basketball awards Monday. The league's nine men's head coaches along with selected media picked the all-conference teams, as well as the coach, player, freshman and defensive awards. BYU head coach Dave Rose captured Coach of the Year honors for the second straight year, while Cougar Keena Young was selected as the Player of the Year. BYU also brought home Freshman of the Year honors as Jonathan Tavernari earned the award, while UNLV's Joel Anthony was named Defensive Player of the Year. In addition to the four major awards, three All-MWC teams were announced as Young was named to the All-MWC First Team, Trent Plaisted received second-team honors and Lee Cummard was honored with a third-team selection. Cougar Austin Ainge received honorable mention. In all, BYU, Air Force and San Diego State each had four players recognized followed by UNLV and New Mexico with three and TCU, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado State with two.
DAVE ROSE -- MWC COACH OF THE YEAR
-- Became the first Cougar head coach to earn back-to-back league Coach of the Year honors including his selection last year
-- Has guided BYU to consecutive 20-win seasons and the program's first national ranking since 1993
-- With a 13-3 MWC record, BYU earned its first outright regular-season league championship since 1987-88
-- The Cougars' current 23-7 overall record makes them just the sixth team in BYU history to record at least 23 regular-season wins
-- With a 25-7 record in Mountain West Conference games since taking the helm of the BYU program for the 2005-06 season, Rose is currently the winningest MWC coach in league play in the past two years
-- BYU set or tied eight different MWC records this season
KEENA YOUNG -- MWC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
-- Became just the seventh player in BYU history to earn conference player of the year honors, joining John Fairchild (1964-65), Danny Ainge (1980-81), Devin Durrant (1982-83), Timo Saarelainen (1984-85), Michael Smith (1987-88), Mekeli Wesley (2000-01) and Rafael Araujo (2003-04)
-- BYU's leading scorer (17.5 ppg) and rebounder (5.5 rpg) in conference play
-- MWC Co-Player of the Week (Feb. 12)
-- Ranked among the top 10 in the MWC in three statistical categories including scoring (fourth -- 17.5 ppg), field-goal percentage (seventh -- .557) and free-throw percentage (ninth -- .800)
-- Topped the 20-point scoring mark six times in league play including 29-point outings in each of BYU's two games against Wyoming, the most points scored by a Cougar since Dec. 6, 2003 (Rafael Araujo -- 32 pts)
-- Led BYU in scoring seven times and rebounding five times in league action, including posting one double-double, while shooting above .600 from the field in conference play six times.
JONATHAN TAVERNARI -- MWC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
-- Played in all 16 of BYU's league games, averaging 13.9 minutes per game, 8.3 ppg and 3.2 rpg while shooting .552 from the field, .451 on three-pointers and .737 from the free-throw line in MWC play
-- Was the top-scoring freshman in the MWC
-- Scored in double figures in five outings, including a career-high 18 points three times
-- Shot .500 or above from the field nine times and from three-point range five times
-- Made his first six three-point shots against TCU, tying the BYU record for most consecutive three-pointers made in a single game, before missing his final attempt while adding 18 points
-- His .857 three-point percentage (6-for-7) against TCU set an MWC freshman record
TRENT PLAISTED -- ALL-MWC SECOND TEAM
-- As BYU's second-leading scorer (12.9 ppg) and rebounder (5.1 rpg) in conference play, Plaisted started all 16 conference games, scoring in double figures in 12 of them
-- MWC Co-Player of the Week honoree (Jan. 29)
-- Ranked among the top 15 in the MWC in four statistical categories in league play including field-goal percentage (sixth -- .563), blocks (tied for fifth -- 1.50), offensive rebounds (ninth -- 2.25) and scoring (14th -- 12.9 ppg)
-- Topped the 20-point scoring mark twice in league action, including a career-high 27 points at Colorado State, while leading BYU in scoring twice, rebounds four times and blocks 10 times in MWC play
-- Shot above .600 nine times in conference action, including five outings above .700
-- His six blocked shots also set an MWC sophomore record in league games
LEE CUMMARD -- ALL-MWC THIRD TEAM
-- Ranked among the top 15 in the MWC in four statistical categories including eighth in steals (1.44), tied for ninth in assists (2.88), 11th in blocks (1.25) and tied for 12th in defensive rebounds (3.56)
-- Scored in double figures five times in MWC play while averaging 8.6 ppg and leading BYU in scoring once, rebounds five times, assists four times, steals eight times and blocks eight times in league play
-- Made 11 straight shots, including five three-pointers, during a four-game stretch
-- Often called upon to guard the opponent's top perimeter player. His defensive highlights include holding the MWC's all-time leading scorer Brandon Heath of SDSU to a season-low-tying 13 points -- well below his scoring average -- while ending Heath's string of four straight 20-point games in BYU's league opener
-- In back-to-back road games, he held Wyoming's Brandon Ewing, the league's top scorer, to just eight points on 2-for-12 shooting and TCU's Brent Hackett to six points on 2-of-7 shooting while Cummard averaged 13.0 ppg on 77 percent shooting, 6.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 bpg and 2.0 spg for the week
-- Posted just the second double-double of his career with 16 points and 11 rebounds in BYU's conference opener against San Diego State
AUSTIN AINGE -- ALL-MWC HONORABLE MENTION
-- Took over the starting point guard role after the suspension of Rashaun Broadus following BYU's league opener, starting the last 15 games
-- Led the MWC in three-point field-goal percentage (.525) while ranking third in assist/turnover ratio (1.81) in league play, fourth in assists (4.88 apg) and 10th in three-pointers made (2.00 per game)
-- Scored in double figures eight times while averaging 9.5 ppg
-- As BYU's leading assist man in conference play (4.88 apg), he led BYU in assists 11 times in league play, dishing out at least three assists in each MWC game he started
-- Shot at least .500 from the floor in nine contests, topping the .700 mark three times
-- Shot at least .500 from three-point range 10 times, helping BYU lead the league in that category
LOOKING AT TCU
TCU (13-16, 4-12) is the No. 8 seed and advanced to the MWC quarterfinals with a 62-54 win over No. 9-seed New Mexico in Tuesday's play-in game. The Horned Frogs started league play 2-0 before suffering an 11-game losing skid started with a loss at BYU on Jan. 10. TCU rebounded to win two of its final three games with home wins over nationally ranked Air Force (71-66) and Wyoming (77-58) before a close road defeat at San Diego State (56-51) on Saturday. TCU has two starters and five letterwinners from last season's 6-25 team that won just two MWC games. The Horned Frogs have two players scoring in double figures this year led by University of California transfer Kevin Langford at 12.9 points per game. The 6-foot-8 sophomore forward adds 6.0 rebounds per game, tied for first on the team, and has posted 22 blocks on the year. Junior guard Brent Hackett also scores in double figures with 11.6 ppg to go along with 2.0 rpg and 1.8 assists per contest. In addition to Langford's contribution, the Horned Frog rebounding effort is paced by junior guard Neiman Owens at 6.0 ppg while junior forward Alvardo Parker adds 5.9 rpg. Parker also adds 8.9 ppg and is third in the MWC in blocked shots with 61 on the year, 2.1 per game. Senior Neil P. Dougherty, the son of TCU head coach Neil Dougherty, runs the point for the Horned Frogs and averages 2.6 assists per game. As a team, TCU averages 63.0 ppg on .414 shooting from the field, including a .332 mark from three-point range, while allowing opponents to score 66.4 ppg on .439 shooting from the floor. The Horned Frogs outrebound their opponents 34.2-33.5. Head coach Neil Dougherty is in his fifth year at the helm of the TCU program with a 61-91 overall record.
TCU'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 32 Kevin Langford 6-8 242 So. 12.9 6.0
F 33 Alvardo Parker 6-8 218 Jr. 8.9 5.9
G 2 Brent Hackett 6-2 203 Jr. 11.6 2.0
G 5 Neiman Owens 6-3 195 Jr. 6.4 6.0
G 13 Neil P. Dougherty 6-0 195 Sr. 3.4 2.4
TCU'S LAST OUTING -- TCU ADVANCES TO QUARTERFINALS WITH WIN OVER UNM
LAS VEGAS -- Brent Hackett's 24 points led TCU's comeback from a 14-point first-half deficit and the Horned Frogs raced past New Mexico 62-54 Tuesday night in the opener of the Mountain West Conference tournament. TCU (13-16) advanced to face top-seeded BYU in the quarterfinals Thursday, and the Lobos (15-17) finished with just their second losing season since 1984. Kevin Langford pulled down 13 boards and Femi Ibikunle added 10 points and some very big defensive stops for TCU, which trailed by six at the half. The Lobos, who hadn't lost five straight games since 1995, jumped out to a 24-11 lead on the eighth-seeded Horned Frogs but then went stone cold from the floor. Hackett's drive to the basket with just under five minutes left gave the Horned Frogs a 52-46 lead and capped a 13-3 run. Chad Toppert responded with a 3-pointer for New Mexico, but Alvardo Parker's three-point play with 3:42 restored TCU's six-point lead, and the Lobos didn't have another run left in them. J.R. Giddens had 10 points and 11 boards for New Mexico, which also got 12 points from Jamaal Smith. McKay, whose team lost five conference games in The Pit for the first time ever, was fired last month, effective at season's end. It appeared early on that he'd get at least another game with the Lobos. New Mexico used an 18-0 run highlighted by Smith's rebound and fastbreak basket to take a 24-11 lead. The Horned Frogs went seven minutes between baskets during that stretch. After trailing by as many as 14, however, TCU pulled to 34-26 at the half. The Lobos missed their first eight shots after halftime before Tony Danridge sank a bucket with 13:36 left, giving New Mexico a 37-33 lead.
The Cougars and Horned Frogs have met just 11 times in the history of the two programs with BYU owning an 8-3 series lead including an 89-65 win in Provo and 85-72 victory in Fort Worth this season. The series began with three straight Cougar victories, two in 1953 and one in 1960, before TCU was able to win three straight from 1985 to 1997. The two teams next met in the first round of the 1999 WAC Tournament in Las Vegas when BYU recorded a 90-74 win, the first of five straight for the Cougars. Last season, the two schools met as members of the Mountain West Conference for the first time with BYU coming away with an 89-80 overtime win in the Marriott Center and then winning 81-72 at TCU. The Cougars are 5-1 against the Horned Frogs in Provo, 2-1 in Fort Worth and 1-1 on a neutral court.
BYU'S LAST OUTING -- BYU WIN OVER UTAH EARNS MWC TITLE
PROVO -- Playing before a sellout crowd of 22,812, the BYU Cougars secured their position as the Mountain West Conference Champions on Saturday evening with an 85-62 victory against in-state rival, University of Utah. With this win, the Cougars improved to 23-7 overall and 13-3 in conference play, winning their first outright MWC regular-season title. Six seniors were honored before the last home game of their careers, including Austin Ainge, Jimmy Balderson, Derek Dawes, Fernando Malaman, Mike Rose and Keena Young. BYU was led in scoring by Young and Sam Burgess with 15 points each. Also scoring in double figures was Trent Plaisted with 13 points and Ainge with 11 points. Young also led the team with nine rebounds. Utah got out to an early 6-1 lead before Young earned his first two points on the Cougars' possession following a Luke Nevill traveling call. A blocked shot by Plaisted was soon followed by a three-point play by Young with 16:28 to play in the first half, evening the score at 6-6. With 14:03 to play in the first half, the Cougars took their first lead of the game after a dunk by Plaisted. Lee Cummard increased BYU's lead to 13-9 by hitting his first three-pointer of the night. Utah's Johnnie Bryant hit a three-pointer, giving his team a one-point lead, before Balderson made one of his own with 10:15 left in the first half. A pass from Ainge to Burgess gave the Cougars a 21-20 lead. Burgess' make from behind the arc with just under seven minutes to play in the first half was soon followed by the same from Ainge. Young's make off the glass gave the Cougars a 29-21 lead. A three-pointer by Balderson with a minute to play in the half brought the score to 34-24. The fans were then brought to their feet when Ainge's fast break lay-up resulted in a three-point play. BYU held a 37-26 advantage to close the first half, which consisted of five lead changes. To open the second half of play, Plaisted went to 2-for-2 from the line after Nevill was called for his fourth foul. Plaisted recorded his second dunk of the night with 17:30 in the second half. After a missed jumper, Young pulled down his own rebound to bring the score to 44-29. Mike Rose scored his first points of the game on a three-pointer with 15:30 to go in the second half. Jonathan Tavernari increased the Cougar lead to 14 points when he made a lay-up on a pass from Young. Ainge followed with a three-pointer on the next possession. Balderson hit a three-pointer of his own with 13:30 in the second half. After a Balderson miss, Tavernari scored the rebound and laid it in, bringing the score to 57-35. Mike Rose capitalized on a three-point play with 10:46 to play in the second half. The Cougars' 15-0 run ended on a Utah free throw by Daniel Deane. With 8:40 to go in the second half Mike Rose found his second basket from behind the arc, bringing the score to 69-40, BYU's largest lead of the game. On Utah's next possession, Burgess recorded his first block of the season. A lay-in by Tavernari brought the Cougar lead to 73-49. A pair of free throws by Utah's Ricky Johns with just under five minutes to play in the game was followed by a score from Plaisted. A successful trip to the free-throw line put the Cougars up two more points, bringing the lead to 81-57. Utah's Johns hit a late three-pointer with under two minutes to play. After a second trip to the free-throw line for Burgess, BYU was up 85-60 with 41 seconds to play in the game.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "Obviously it was a well played game. I thought our team was really together tonight. There was balanced scoring, but I really thought we were able to handle the emotions of the night and stay together."
-- "One thing I do know is they deserve it. They've worked pretty hard. We got help from our bench. We got help from our starters. It was a team victory, and it's been that way all year."
Utah Head Coach Ray Giacoletti
-- "This has been a great rivalry. BYU is very deserving. Their group of seniors have come together and, with a few additions, they have all the pieces."
-- "We just need to go and regroup for the Mountain West Conference Tournament."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- Individual Career Highs: Sam Burgess -- 15 points, 4 rebounds (tied); Austin Ainge -- 1 block (tied); Keena Young -- 4 assists (tied).
-- BYU's win over Utah extended its home winning streak to 31 games, which is currently the longest active home victory streak in the nation. The Cougars went 17-0 at home this season and are 403-116 (.776) all-time in the Marriott Center.
-- With the victory, BYU has secured its first outright MWC regular-season title and its first outright league crown since 1987-88. The Cougars have won 27 conference titles. This year marks the first time since 1978-79 that the men's basketball, women's basketball and football teams have all won outright league crowns in the same season.
-- BYU's season-high crowd of 22,812 vs. Utah marked the Cougars' second sellout this season (22,700 vs. then-No. 13 Air Force). Prior to this year, BYU had not sold out two games in a season since 1981-82 (vs. UNLV, vs. Utah). The attendance mark was also the 21st largest in Marriott Center history and the seventh largest for a BYU vs. Utah game. It was the largest crowd in MWC history.
-- With a record of 23-7 in the regular season, BYU became just the sixth team in program history to reach 23 wins prior to postseason play. No Cougar team had reached the 23-win mark in the regular season since 1992-93.
-- The Cougars set a Mountain West Conference record in their final league game, finishing conference play with 1,263 total points to surpass SDSU's mark of 1,246 points set last season. BYU entered the game needing 69 points to set the record and finished with 85. The record was actually set on a three-point make from Mike Rose with 8:38 left in the game.
-- The Cougars have also won the Old Oquirrh Bucket and the in-state basketball bragging rights that go along with it for the first time since 2000-01 with a 5-0 record this season against in-state teams. BYU, which actually secured the Bucket with a win at Utah earlier this season, has claimed the Bucket eight times since 1975.
-- With the 85-62 (+23) win over Utah, BYU won five MWC games this season by more than 20 points, including a +27 (90-63) margin of victory against UNLV on Feb. 3, a 21-point (70-49) win at New Mexico on Jan. 24, a 24-point (89-65) win over TCU on Jan. 10 and a 22-point victory (80-58) over San Diego State to open MWC play. BYU has won just 11 games by 20 points or more in MWC play since the formation of the league prior to the 1999-2000 season. The Cougars had not beaten Utah by at least 20 points since March 10, 1994, a 96-65 win in the WAC Tournament. The last time BYU recorded a margin of victory that large over the Utes in Provo was Jan. 15, 1982 with a 74-51 win.
-- BYU is now 21-4 when scoring over 70 points and 19-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point threshold. The Cougars are also 11-0 this year when scoring at least 80 points.
-- With a 36-24 rebounding advantage against the Utes, the Cougars are now 22-1 when winning the battle of the boards.
-- With a 37-26 advantage at the break, BYU enjoyed its 22nd halftime lead of the season and their 11th in double figures. Overall, BYU is 20-2 when leading at the break, 3-4 when trailing and 0-1 when tied.
-- With 15 points against Utah, Young has now scored in double figures in 26 of 30 games this season, helping BYU go 20-6 in those games. Young scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field in the first half.
-- After Plaisted began the game with a free-throw make, Young scored seven straight points for BYU to spark a 13-3 run that gave the Cougars a 13-9 lead.
BYU IN NATIONAL RANKINGS
BYU is ranked No. 23 in this week's ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll and AP Top 25 Poll. BYU entered the national rankings on Feb. 19 for the first time since 1993 as the Cougars were ranked No. 21 in the AP Top 25 Poll and No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll. BYU was last ranked in the top 25 on March 8, 1993 when the Cougars were No. 25 in the AP Poll. BYU's No. 21 ranking equaled its highest ranking achieved during the 1992-93 season. BYU was ranked as high as No. 2 (UPI) and No. 4 (AP) in the 1987-88 season. BYU has been nationally ranked in the AP Poll during 15 seasons starting in 1950-51 when the Cougars won the national title as NIT Champions (unable to determine other seasons when BYU could also have been ranked in other polls due to incomplete in-season historical listings). Four BYU opponents appear in this week's polls as UCLA is ranked No. 3 in the Coaches Poll and No. 4 in the AP Poll. UNLV is ranked No. 25 in both polls while Air Force is listed 29th (Coaches) and 35th (AP) and Michigan State is listed 39th in both polls.
COUGAR RECORD AMONG THE TOP IN SCHOOL HISTORY
BYU has a 23-7 record through 30 games this year. In the 105-year history of BYU men's basketball, only three teams of the 41 that played at least 30 games during a season earned a better record than this year's Cougar squad (noting that 64 teams did not total 30 games during the season, including the 20-5 NIT Championship team in 1965-66). Five other BYU teams have equaled the current Cougars' 23-7 start. (SEE CHART AT LEFT).
THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
With a 13-3 Mountain West Conference record, BYU secured its first MWC title and its first outright league crown since 1987-88. The Cougars have won 27 conference titles. This year marks the first time since 1978-79 that the men's basketball, women's basketball and football teams have all won outright league crowns in the same season.
COACH ROSE OWNS TOP MWC MARK IN HIS TWO SEASONS
With a 25-7 record in Mountain West Conference games since taking the helm of the BYU program for the 2005-06 season, Dave Rose is currently the winningest MWC coach in league play in the past two years. UNLV's Lon Kruger is 24-10 and SDSU's Steve Fisher is 23-9 while fellow second-year coach Jeff Bzdelik follows with a 22-10 conference record in his two seasons with the Falcons. In addition to a 13-3 league and 23-7 overall record this year, Rose was named the Mountain West Conference and USBWA District VIII Coach of the Year last season after coaching his team to a second-place MWC finish at 12-4 -- one game behind league-champion San Diego State -- while turning a 9-21 team into a 20-9 success that proved to be the second-best improvement among all Division I programs.
At 23-7 so far this season, BYU has achieved the program's 30th 20-win season, including two straight for Cougar head coach Dave Rose in his first two seasons at the helm. Last year, the Cougars finished 20-9. BYU has averaged 20 wins every 2.6 years (BYU has played 79 seasons in which it has played at least 20 games in a season). Rose became the fourth Cougar head coach to win 20 games in each of his first two years, joining G. Ott Romney, Stan Watts and Roger Reid. However, Rose is the first Cougar head coach to win 20 games in each of his first two years after taking over a program with less than 13 wins the prior year. BYU was 9-21 in 2004-05 before Rose turned the program into the second-most improved team in the nation last year.
20-Win Seasons at BYU
Stan Watts had 6 seasons of 20 wins in 23 years of coaching
Roger Reid had 6 seasons of 20 wins in 8 years of coaching
G. Ott Romney had 5 seasons of 20 wins in 9 years of coaching
Steve Cleveland had 4 seasons of 20 wins in 8 years of coaching
Ladell Anderson had 3 season of 20 wins in 6 years of coaching
Frank Arnold had 3 seasons of 20 wins in 8 years of coaching
Dave Rose has 2 seasons of 20 wins in 2 years of coaching
Floyd Millet had 1 season of 20 wins in 8 years of coaching
CURRENT COUGARS RANK AMONG BEST EVER IN REGULAR-SEASON WINS
This year's BYU team is just the sixth Cougar squad to record its 23rd win prior to the end of the regular season, making it one of the best BYU teams in program history. The Cougar record for wins in the regular season is 24 achieved three times (SEE CHART AT LEFT)
REGULAR-SEASON BENCHMARKS FOR NCAA INVITES
Winning 20 or more games in the regular season has proven to be a significant indicator for receiving an invitation into the NCAA Tournament. Since the first NCAA Tournament in 1939, BYU has had 20 seasons with 20 regular-season wins, including this year's team. In the prior 19 seasons when this occurred, BYU earned a postseason invite each season, including 16 NCAA bids, three NIT berths (BYU played both NIT and NCAA in 1950-51) and one NAIB (1948-49) invite. In the modern era since the NCAA Tournament became the predominant championship over the NIT, BYU has had 15 seasons when it earned 20 or more wins during regular-season games (prior to starting the conference tournament). The Cougars have received an invite to play in the NCAA Tournament in 13 of those seasons (not including this year), with the lone exception being last year's 20-7 regular-season team that fell to 20-8 with a loss at the MWC Tournament before receiving an NIT invitation. Including this year, BYU has reached 21 regular-season wins during 11 of those 15 seasons and has been invited to play in the NCAA Tournament in each of the prior 10 years.
VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
The Cougars are 3-2 in their games vs. ranked teams this year with a 62-58 victory at No. 20 Air Force, a 90-63 win over then-No. 25 UNLV, a 61-52 win over then--No. 13 Air Force, an 82-69 loss at then-No. 5 UCLA and a 76-61 neutral court loss against then-No. 25 Michigan State. The win at No. 20 Air Force was BYU's first win over a ranked team on the road since a win at No. 12 New Mexico on Feb. 26, 1998. The Cougars' victory over then-No. 25 UNLV marked the second consecutive BYU win over a ranked team in the Marriott Center, including a win over then-No. 13 Air Force the week before. Prior to that, BYU had not defeated a ranked opponent since beating then-No. 25 Oklahoma State 76-71 on Dec. 6, 2003 in Salt Lake City. BYU hadn't beaten a ranked team in the Marriott Center since Feb. 1, 1992 with an 80-63 win over No. 19 UTEP. BYU is 49-108 all-time against ranked opponents.
BYU has won five MWC games this season by more than 20 points, including a 23-point (85-62) victory over in-state rival Utah on Saturday, a +27 (90-63) margin of victory against UNLV on Feb. 3, a 21-point (70-49) win at New Mexico on Jan. 24, a 24-point (89-65) win over TCU on Jan. 10 and a 22-point victory (80-58) over San Diego State to open MWC play. The UNLV win marked BYU's largest margin of victory in MWC play since a 29-point win (82-53) on Jan. 17, 2004 against Colorado State. BYU has won just 11 games by 20 points or more in MWC play since the formation of the league prior to the 1999-2000 season.
BYU is the only MWC team that has not had a game decided by three points or less this season. The Cougars have had some close games, however, as three games have required overtime this year. BYU is 2-1 in overtime with an 86-77 loss at Lamar on Dec. 13 and an 84-78 win against Idaho State on Nov. 18 and a 73-69 victory at Weber State on Dec. 2. This is the first season since 2001-02 that BYU has played multiple extra period games in one year (BYU was 0-3 in overtime that season). The Cougars' loss at Lamar ended a five-game overtime winning streak dating back to March 14, 2003, an 86-80 setback against Colorado State at the MWC Tournament. BYU is 50-45 (.526) all-time when playing past regulation.
DEFENDING THE HOME COURT
With 31 straight wins in the Marriott Center, the Cougars currently own the nation's longest active home victory streak thanks to their win at Air Force last Tuesday, snapping the Falcons' 30-game home win streak. BYU won 17 home games this season after going 14-1 at home last year. BYU's last home loss was in last year's season opener against Loyola Marymount. BYU has since won 15 straight over nonconference opponents and has won 16 consecutive over MWC foes since losing its season finale in 2005 to UNLV. BYU is 403-116 (.776) all-time in the Marriott Center. The Cougars' longest home winning streak came from Feb 19, 2000 to Jan 16, 2003 when BYU won 44 straight in the Marriott Center.
Active Homecourt Winning Streaks (through games played March 3, 2007)
Wins Team This year Next home game
31 BYU 17-0 Next Season
29 Memphis 17-0 March 7 vs. First Round C-USA Tournament
ON THE ROAD
BYU has won five of its last six games on the road including wins at No. 20 Air Force (62-58), at TCU (85-72), at New Mexico (70-49), at Utah (76-66) and at Wyoming (77-73) and a loss at San Diego State (86-74). The Cougars' win in the Huntsman Center was their first since 1994, and their win at Air Force snapped the Falcons' 30-game home winning streak. BYU is 6-6 on the road this year and 5-3 in conference play with a season-opening loss at then-No. 5 UCLA, a Nov. 29 setback at Boise State, an overtime win at Weber State, an overtime defeat at Lamar and league losses at UNLV and at CSU. BYU was the only Mountain West Conference team with a winning record on the road in league play this year. The Cougars lost their only neutral court game so far this season with a loss against then-No. 25 Michigan State at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. BYU finished last year 6-8 away from home, including a 4-4 mark during MWC play.
BYU has won 10 of its last 11 games overall with victories over New Mexico (twice), Air Force (twice), Utah (twice), UNLV, Wyoming, TCU and Colorado State and a loss at SDSU. The Cougars had won eight straight prior to the SDSU loss, marking their longest victory streak since winning nine straight during the 2003-04 season and ranking tied for 10th nationally. The Cougars also won seven straight this year over Utah State, Western Oregon, Liberty, Oral Roberts, Seton Hall, San Diego State and TCU. Before coming to an end with a loss at UNLV on Jan. 13, that streak was tied for the 12th-longest active victory streak in the nation.
TRUE BLUE FANS
BYU averaged 12,703 fans this season, including the largest crowd in MWC history with 22,812 fans against Utah and another sellout crowd of 22,700 fans against then-No. 13 Air Force, marking the first time since 1981-82 that BYU has had multiple sellouts in the same year. The Cougars were second in the MWC in attendance behind New Mexico's 12,853 average. BYU has consistently ranked among the national attendance leaders. The Cougars averaged 11,069 fans in 2005-06, outdrawing the regular-season conference champions of 27 out of 31 conferences as well as over half of the teams in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big East and Southeastern Conferences and all but Arizona in the Pacific-10 Conference. BYU also averaged more fans than 12 of the 16 NCAA Sweet Sixteen participants, including all of the Final Four teams.
Coach Rose has used four different starting lineups this year but has gone with the same starting five in the last 15 games. Sophomore Lee Cummard and senior Keena Young have started every game this season, while sophomore Trent Plaisted has missed just one start because of injury. Jimmy Balderson has made 27 starts. Rashaun Broadus started 11 of 15 games before being suspended for the season. Austin Ainge has started 22 games.
With 228 three-pointers made this season, BYU has set a new program record in that category, surpassing the mark of 214 set in 1992. The Cougars also set a school record with 15 three-pointers against UNLV on .682 (15-for-22) shooting from long range, the third time this season the Cougars have shot above .600 from downtown. BYU has shot above 40 percent from behind the arc 16 times on the season, including 10 of the last 12 games, and has made a least 10 treys in a game on seven occasions. The Cougars rank eighth nationally in three-point shooting (.409) and led the league in three-point percentage (.457) in MWC play. Cougar players rank first (Austin Ainge - .525) and second (Mike Rose - .471) in the league in three-point shooting percentage in MWC action. Rose tied the BYU individual record he set in 2003 with eight triples against UNLV.
BOUNCE BACK COUGARS
With the win at Air Force coming after a loss at San Diego State, BYU has now bounced back from six of its seven losses this year with wins, suffering back-to-back defeats only once (vs. then-No. 25 Michigan State, at Lamar). BYU won eight straight games after losing to Colorado State on Jan. 20, its longest win streak since the 2003-04 season. After suffering its first back-to-back regular-season losses of the Dave Rose era with defeats against the Spartans and Cardinals, BYU responded with seven straight wins. Last year with its 20-9 overall record, BYU suffered consecutive defeats only once -- against Utah in the Mountain West Conference Tournament and at Houston in the NIT in the last two games of the year, having bounced back from each prior loss with a victory.
MAGIC NUMBER: 70
This year the Cougars are scoring an MWC-leading 77.8 points and allowing 68.1 points. BYU is 19-0 when opponents score less than 70 points and 4-7 when they score 70 or more. BYU is 21-4 when it scores 70 or more points (exception at Lamar, at UNLV, at CSU and at SDSU) and 2-3 when scoring less than 70 with both wins coming against nationally ranked Air Force. The Cougars are also 11-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points. With its current scoring output, BYU is on pace to have its highest scoring average since 1996 (82.3 ppg) and highest scoring margin since 1992 (+10.6).
CLEANING THE GLASS
BYU is 22-1 this season when outrebounding its opponents and 1-6 when losing the battle of the boards. The Cougars lead the MWC in rebounding average (37.0) and rebounding margin (+5.8). BYU posted its largest margin of the season with a +22 (42-20) mark against then-No. 13 Air Force. Senior Keena Young is tied for sixth at 6.2 rpg while sophomore Trent Plaisted is ninth on the glass at 6.1 rpg. The Cougars recorded back-to-back season-high efforts of 52 rebounds vs. Oral Roberts and 55 against Seton Hall in the BYU Holiday Classic. BYU outrebounded the Pirates 55-34 as four Cougars had nine or more rebounds (Cummard 12, Young, Plaisted and Ainge 9).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - KEENA YOUNG
Senior forward Keena Young has made noise this season for BYU as he proved to be the Cougars' go-to guy while earning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year honors. A consistent scoring threat and solid all-around performer for the Cougars, he finished fourth in the MWC in scoring (17.5) in league games while ranking seventh in field-goal percentage (.557) and ninth in free-throw percentage (.800). He has scored in double figures in 26 out of 30 games this year. He leads BYU in scoring overall (17.1), which ranks fourth among MWC players, and in rebounding (6.2), tied for sixth in the MWC. He is also fifth in the league in field-goal percentage (.560) and 10th in free-throw percentage (.806). The senior co-captain has led BYU in scoring 13 times and rebounding 12 times. He posted a career-high 29 points in each of his games against Wyoming this season (most since Dec. 6, 2003; Araujo - 32). He has scored at least 20 points in eight games, including five of the last nine.
VETERAN LEADERSHIP AT THE POINT - AUSTIN AINGE
Senior Austin Ainge is averaging a team-best 4.27 assists, fifth in the MWC, while ranking third in the conference with a 1.83 assist/turnover ratio. He averaged 4.88 apg in league play (4th) while leading the conference with .525 shooting from three-point range and ranking third with a 1.81 assist/turnover ratio. Ainge scored 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, including 3-for-4 from three-point range, against then-No. 25 UNLV while adding four assists and four rebounds. He posted a season-high 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field, including a 5-for-7 mark from three-point range, to go along with six assists against TCU. He totaled 16 points with a career-best nine rebounds off the bench against Seton Hall. His 14 points -- all in the second half -- against Boise State fueled BYU's furious comeback attempt. He has tied his career high with eight assists three times in the last 11 games (at UNM, at Utah, vs. CSU).
DEFENSE, OFFENSE, DOING IT ALL - LEE CUMMARD
Sophomore Lee Cummard contributes across the box score and on the defensive end of the floor for BYU. On the year, Cummard averages 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting .551 from the floor, .450 on threes and .811 from the line. He ranks among the top 15 in the MWC in six statistical categories overall. In conference action, he was eighth in steals (1.44), tied for ninth in assists (2.88), 11th in blocks (1.25) and tied for 12th in defensive rebounds (3.56). He has had at least one steal in 23 of 30 games, including a career-high 5 steals against UNLV, and his hit a three-pointer in 23 of 30 games, including a string of 13 straight. He guards the opponent's top perimeter player. Among his defensive highlights was excelling in the tough assignment to guard the MWC's all-time scoring leader and reigning MVP Brandon Heath of San Diego State. He held Heath to season-low-tying 13 points -- well below his MWC No. 2-ranked 20.3 scoring average entering the game -- helping end Heath's string of four straight games with 20 or more points. He held Wyoming's Brandon Ewing, the league's top scorer, to 8 points on 2-of-12 shooting and TCU's Brent Hackett to 6 points on 2-of-7 shooting, while Cummard averaged 13.0 ppg on 77 percent shooting, 6.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 3.0 bpk and 2.0 spg in those back-to-back road games. He also helped hold Utah State's leading shooter Jaycee Carroll, who ranked 22nd in the nation shooting .629, to just .308 shooting (4-for-13) and 7 points below his average.
SUPER SOPHOMORE - TRENT PLAISTED
Just one year removed from his Freshman All-American campaign, sophomore Trent Plaisted is once again contributing solid play for the Cougars. He is currently second on the team with 12.2 points per game on .538 shooting from the field, eighth in the MWC. He also ranks second for BYU and is ninth in the league with 6.1 rebounds per game while adding 1.33 blocks per game, eighth in the conference. Plaisted has scored in double figures in 19 games, helping the Cougars go 15-4 in those contests, while scoring at least 20 points in four outings. He has also reached double-digits on the boards in two games, posting two double-doubles on the year. He has led BYU in rebounds 10 times, scoring six times and assists twice. In league play, Plaisted was sixth in the MWC in field-goal percentage (.563), tied for fifth in blocks (1.55), ninth in offensive rebounds (2.25) and 14th in scoring (12.9).
* Oral Roberts (72-62) -- Mid-Continent Conference champion
* Weber State (73-69) -- Big Sky Conference co-champion
* Utah State (75-62) -- 21-win team who defeated No. 9 Nevada last week
* San Diego State (80-58) -- defeated defending MWC champion and preseason No. 1 pick in league opener
* Air Force (61-52) -- Air Force was ranked No. 13 at the time
* UNLV (90-63) -- UNLV was tied for No. 25 at the time
* at Air Force (62-58) -- Air Force was ranked No. 20 at the time, also ended the Falcons' 30-game home win streak
* at UCLA (69-82) -- led at the half and trailed by two with just over six minutes to play vs. last year's national runner-up and this year's Pac-10 Champions/BYU was UCLA's closest nonconference home game in Pauley Pavilion, others lost by an average of 24.8 ppg/UCLA's overall margin of victory at home was 18.1 including Pac-10 play
* vs. Michigan State (61-76) -- in Detroit
* at UNLV (75-83)
* at San Diego State (74-86)
*Won outright Mountain West regular-season title with 13-3 mark
*Is 18-3 since December 13, 2006
*Has a 6-6 record in true road games, including 5-3 in MWC play, and has won five of its last six road contests capped with a win at No. 20 Air Force to end the Falcons' nation-leading 30-game home victory streak
*Has won 31 straight in the Marriott Center, which is the longest home win streak nationally
*Is 9-1 over last 10 games, including three wins over ranked teams
*Under second-year coach Dave Rose has registered second straight 20-win season and has six 20-win seasons in the last eight years
*Has six wins over teams with 20-win seasons
*Went 10-4 in non-conference play - only losses were at UCLA, Michigan State, Boise State and Lamar
*Ranks in the top 30 nationally in six statistical categories
*Starting point guard Rashaun Broadus was suspended for the season on Jan. 10. BYU has gone 12-3 since his departure.