GAME 32 - BYU Plays Wyoming in MWC Semifinals

Senior co-captain Austin Ainge will look to lead the Cougars to victory in their MWC Tournament semifinal game against Wyoming Friday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

BYU GAME #32 FAST FACTS

NO. 23 BYU COUGARS -- #1 SEED (24-7, 13-3 MWC)

vs.

WYOMING -- #5 SEED (17-14, 7-9 MWC)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Thomas & Mack Center (18,500)

Las Vegas

6 p.m. PT (7 p.m. MT)

Coaches:

BYU, Dave Rose (44-16 in second season; same overall)

UW, Steve McClain (157-114 in ninth season; same overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 96-69, after sweeping the season series

TV:

CSTV (Tom Hart - play-by-play, Steve Lappas - color)

Radio:

KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (5 p.m. PT pregame show -- Greg Wrubell, play-by-play; Mark Durrant, game analysis)

Web:

Live video, live audio and live stats links are available at www.byucougars.com/basketball_m/

No. 23 BYU PLAYS WYOMING IN MWC SEMIFINALS FRIDAY

After a 77-64 quarterfinal victory over eighth-seeded TCU, No. 23 BYU (24-7, 13-3 MWC) will continue its Mountain West Conference Tournament run on Friday at 6 p.m. PT (7 p.m. MT) against the fifth-seeded Wyoming Cowboys (17-14, 7-9 MWC), winners of their quarterfinal game against No. 4-seed Air Force. The game, which will be played at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, will be televised nationally on CSTV and can be heard live on the radio beginning with the pregame show at 5 p.m. PT (6 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 top-seeded Cougars have won 19 of their last 22 games and 11 of the last 12 including Thursday's quarterfinal victory.

UP NEXT

If BYU wins, the Cougars will advance to the MWC finals and play the winner of Friday's second semifinal between second-seeded UNLV and sixth-seeded Colorado State. The MWC Tournament Championship game will be Saturday at 4 p.m. PT (5 p.m. MT) and will be televised nationally on VERSUS.

COUGAR QUICK HITS

-- BYU won its first outright league title since 1987-88 with a 13-3 MWC record this season.

-- 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 TCU on Thursday, BYU has won 11 of its last 12 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 (16.8) and rebounding (6.3). All-MWC Second Team selection Trent Plaisted is second on the boards (6.2) and in scoring (12.5), while All-MWC honorable mention recipient Austin Ainge leads BYU with 4.35 assists per game.

-- The Cougars lead the MWC in scoring (77.8), field-goal percentage (.492), rebounding average (37.3), rebounding margin (+6.4) 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 RPI ratings of 19 and 20 in the various RPI rankings. BYU is ranked No. 7 in the nation in three-point shooting, No. 10 in field-goal percentage, No. 24 in rebound margin, No. 26 in scoring margin and No. 27 in scoring.

-- The Cougars are 17-0 at home this season, 6-6 on the road and 1-1 on a neutral court.

BYU MWC TOURNAMENT HISTORY

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 (161, 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

Including their quarterfinal victory over TCU, the Cougars now have an 8-6 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 quarterfinal game in five of the eight MWC Tournaments, advancing to the semifinals this year for the first time since 2004. 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 20-19 record in conference tournament games, which includes a 12-13 record in WAC Tournament games. BYU has played every MWC team in the MWC Tournament.

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 this year for the first time with a 1-0 record so far. 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). This year, the No. 1, No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6 seeds advanced to the semifinals while the No. 3, No. 4, No. 7 and No. 9 seeds did not win a game. The No. 8 seed won the play-in game but fell in the quarterfinals.

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).

OPPONENT INFORMATION

LOOKING AT WYOMING

The fifth-seeded Cowboys (17-14, 7-9) advanced to the semifinals with a 67-62 win over No. 4 Air Force on Thursday. Wyoming has nonconference wins over two teams who defeated BYU this year in Boise State and Lamar. The Cowboys are led by sophomore guard Brandon Ewing, who paces the team and the league in scoring overall at 19.8 points per game. He adds 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest. Junior guard Brad Jones is second on the team and third among MWC players in scoring at 18.0 ppg, while adding 5.0 rpg and a team-leading 4.5 assists per game (which ranks fourth overall among MWC players just ahead of Austin Ainge). Senior forward Daaron Brown paces the Cowboys on the boards at 6.8 per game while shooting a team-best .614 field-goal percentage toward his 9.6 scoring average. Junior guard James Spencer joins fellow perimeter players Ewing and Jones in double-digit socring with an 10.7 ppg average. As a team, the Cowboys average 73.6 ppg on .462 shooting from the field, including a .333 mark from three-point range, while holding opponents to 74.1 ppg on .452 shooting from the field. Wyoming has been slightly outrebounded (34.5-34.2) this year. Cowboy head coach Steve McClain is 157-114 in his ninth season at the helm.

WYOMING'S PROBABLE STARTERS

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

F 2 James Spencer 6-4 195 Jr. 10.7 3.8

F 20 Joseph Taylor 6-8 210 Jr. 4.9 5.3

C 40 Daaron Brown 6-9 260 Sr. 9.6 6.8

G 1 Brad Jones 6-0 170 Jr. 18.0 5.0

G 23 Brandon Ewing 6-2 190 So. 19.8 3.3

WYOMING'S LAST OUTING -- COWBOYS SHOOT DOWN FALCONS

LAS -- Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik refused to make a case for an NCAA tournament bid Thursday after his players failed to do their part. "The only thing that matters is what the committee decides," Bzdelik said after the Falcons' 67-62 quarterfinal loss to Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference tournament. "We put ourselves in this position. We're at their mercy." His players were holding out hope after the academy's once-solid designs on a run through March Madness took a serious blow at the hands of Brad Jones, who scored 29, and Brandon Ewing, who added 19. The Falcons (23-8) have gone 6-7 after a 17-1 start and a rise in the rankings to a school-best 13th and many doubt the selection committee will take a team that's lost four in a row. Sweating through Selection Sunday. This precarious position seemed far-fetched a month ago, when the Falcons seemed like a lock for No. 4 seed, which would have given them a prime opportunity for the school's first-ever NCAA tournament win. Now, they'll be very lucky to even get invited, like so much other first-round fodder. Burtschi said the Falcons' RPI was still good, their strength of schedule better than ever. Like many of his teammates, he pointed to early wins over the likes of Wake Forest and Stanford before the rigors of the service academy set in and sent the Falcons on their annual spring swoon. "Our resume speaks for itself," senior Nick Welch said. "We've proven to the country we're a good team. We were nationally ranked all year. We had a little slump. The Mountain West is the best it's ever been." Amen to that, said Wyoming coach Steve McClain, who, unlike Bzdelik, wasn't shy about fighting for the Falcons. "I don't think there's any question on that question. Air Force should be in the tournament. Will be in the tournament," McClain said. "I don't debate that. You have to look at their overall (season). I go back to what I said, somebody out there needs to say we got a pretty darn good league here is what we got." Jones and Ewing, who had missed the last game between the schools after getting suspended for fighting at New Mexico, led the way as the Cowboys (17-14) trailed just once, at 21-20, in advancing to face top-seeded BYU in the semifinals Friday night. Ewing's 3-pointer gave Wyoming a 52-47 lead with five minutes left and was sandwiched between four errant free throws by Burtschi. The Falcons, who got 16 points from Andrew Henke, 15 from Burtschi and 13 from Tim Anderson, were just 18-of-32 from the stripe, missing 10 free throws over the final 5:23 as they were bounced from the first round of the tournament for the eighth straight season. The Cowboys sank 22 of their 27 free throws and Jones was 12-for-15 and hit all six of his free throws in the final two minutes.

SERIES NOTES

BYU and Wyoming have met 165 times. BYU leads the series 96-69. Wyoming has a 53-29 advantage in Laramie while BYU boasts a 63-14 record in Provo. BYU has a 4-2 edge on a neutral floor, including a 2-0 advantage in conference tournament play (MWC Tournament wins in 2001 and 2004). The Cougars have won the last four games and nine of the last 11 outings. Since the formation of the Mountain West Conference, BYU has won 13 of the 18 meetings. After Utah (244 games) and Utah State (224 games), BYU has faced Wyoming the third-most times in its history.

IN PROVO -- YOUNG LEADS COUGARS TO VICTORY

PROVO -- After a slow start, the BYU Cougars pulled out an 89-81 victory against the Wyoming Cowboys Tuesday night in the Marriott Center, improving to 13-5 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain West Conference. Senior Keena Young led his team with 29 points, a new career high, and 10 rebounds. BYU also improved their home-winning streak to 26 games. The Cougars started out slow with two turnovers in the beginning minutes. A three-pointer by Brandon Ewing carried the Cowboys to a 12-4 lead before a time-out was called by BYU. The game continued to go Wyoming's way until Ben Murdock hit a three-pointer to bring the Cougars within five points. A seven-point run by BYU was capped by a Mike Rose breakaway lay-up. With 10:25 left in the half, Trent Plaisted got his first bucket of the game after missing his previous six attempts. BYU continued to struggle when Murdock received his second foul with just over eight minutes left in the half. A Jonathan Tavernari jump shot was followed by an Austin Ainge three-pointer. Picking up where he left off during the Cougars' last home game against TCU, Tavernari made his first three-point attempt to bring his team within three. As the half came to a close, Young was sent to the free-throw line where he made both of his shots. A three-pointer by Jimmy Balderson tied the game for the first time. On the last play of the half, Tavernari hit his second three of the night, giving BYU its first lead of the game at 37-35. Young was fouled and sent to the line to open the second half where he made both of his free throws. A dunk by Plaisted with 16:05 on the clock tied the game, and a costly turnover by the Cowboys resulted in a breakaway lay-up by Rose, giving the Cougars a 51-45 advantage. BYU continued on a 17-0 run, with Young contributing nine points and Rose adding five. A strong defensive showing by the Cougars resulted in an expired Wyoming shot clock with just over 10 minutes to play. Murdock's fourth foul sent Eric Platt to the line, bringing the score to 66-54. Soon after, Plaisted recorded his second dunk of the night with 7:14 left in the half. At 6:53, Ewing recorded his first points of the half on a pair of free throws, having gone over 24 minutes without a score. Young tipped in a missed three-point attempt by Lee Cummard to give BYU a 12-point lead. On a trip to the free-throw line with four minutes left in the game, Young surpassed his previous career high of 27 points. Ewing's 800th career point came with just over two minutes to play. A steal by Ainge and ensuing tip-in by Plaisted put the Cougars up 85-79 with 30 seconds left in the game. A pair of free throws by Ainge sealed the BYU victory. Four Cougars scored in double figures, including Young with 29 points, Plaisted with 15, Ainge with 13 and Tavernari with 10. Ewing and Brown both led Wyoming with 22 points each. Brown also led his team with 18 rebounds.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "It was a physical game. Our guys responded well to that. All of the conference games will be physical. The teams are evenly matched so it will be a fight."

-- "Wyoming guards are very involved. They get the posts involved by penetration. In the second half we did a much better job of filling the lanes so the guards had to create shots."

-- "The defense sparked the 17-0 run. We got stops on defense and attacked them in transition."

-- "At the beginning of the game the energy level from our guys was suspect. That's why Jonathan Tavernari came in to give us a lift."

-- "Jonathan Tavernari's playing with a lot of confidence. He works really hard, has a great attitude and right now he is really helping our team."

Wyoming Head Coach Steve McClain

-- "I thought it was a great game. We got off to a great start. We did what we wanted to do. We are proud of our kids. We got it close but didn't get it."

-- "We go in at the half and feel like we are right there, and then we just missed shots. BYU did a good job defensively."

-- "I think our kids got frustrated by something they couldn't control. But I think that they really kept their composure."

BYU NOTES

-- Individual Career Highs: Keena Young - 29 points; Lee Cummard -- 3 blocks.

-- Individual Season Highs: Mike Rose -- 3 assists, 2 steals (tied); Keena Young -- 2 steals.

-- Team Season Highs: 52 points in a half; 12,817 attendance.

-- BYU's win over Wyoming extended its home winning streak to 26 games, which the second-longest active home victory streak in the nation. The Cougars are 12-0 at home this season.

-- With a .412 (7-for-17) three-point shooting percentage against Wyoming, BYU has now shot above .400 percent from behind the arc in five straight games and nine on the season.

-- BYU put together two very different halves against Wyoming, starting the game 2-for-11 (.182) while shooting 14-for-38 (.368) in the first half. In the second half, BYU started 8-for-11 (.727) while cruising to a season high 52 second-half points on a 13-for-24 (.542) shooting mark, the 10th time this year the Cougars have scored at least 40 points in the second half. BYU shot 27-for-62 (.435) for the game.

-- After Wyoming's Joseph Taylor was whistled for a technical foul at the 14:58 mark with the game tied at 45-45, BYU went on a 17-0 run thanks in part to nine points from Young and five points from Mike Rose.

-- After scoring 16 second-half points at UNLV, Keena Young once again put together another impressive offensive performance against Wyoming, scoring a career-high 29 points on 9-for-16 (.563) shooting, marking the 16th time in 18 games he has scored in double figures and the fourth time he has posted 20+ points. His 29 points is the most scored by a Cougar since Rafael Araujo scored 32 points against then-No. 25 Oklahoma State on Dec. 6, 2003 at the Delta Center.

-- Young added 10 rebounds against the Cowboys to record his fifth double-double of the season and the eighth of his career.

-- With an 11-for-12 performance from the free-throw line, Young also became the first Cougar since Mike Hall on Feb. 7, 2004 to make double-digit free throws in a game.

-- With a three-point make at the 12:21 mark of the second half, Mike Rose has now made a three-pointer in 10 straight games, tying his career record. Rose has come on strong for BYU as of late, scoring 77 points in the last 10 games (7.7 ppg), including nine against Wyoming, after scoring just 11 points in the first eight games (1.4 ppg).

-- Lee Cummard recorded a career-high three blocks in the game, marking the ninth game this year he has recorded at least one rejection. Cummard entered the game ranked 15th in the MWC averaging 0.65 bpg.

-- Jimmy Balderson gave the Cougars their first tie of the night at 34-34 on a three-pointer with 1:34 left to play in the first half. Jonathan Tavernari then gave BYU its first lead at 37-35 on another three-pointer with three seconds remaining in the half. Wyoming led by as many as 10 points (16-6) in the first period of play.

IN LARAMIE -- BYU TAKES OVER FIRST PLACE WITH WIN AT WYOMING

LARAMIE -- The Cougars survived Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium Tuesday night after battling out a 77-73 win over the Cowboys to improve to 18-6 overall and 8-2 in the Mountain West Conference. BYU was led by Young, who tied the career high he set against Wyoming earlier this season in Provo with 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field to go along with six rebounds. Trent Plaisted led the Cougars on the boards with seven rebounds while adding 13 points and one assist. Mike Rose and Lee Cummard also scored in double figures for BYU with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Cougars held the Cowboys scoreless from the floor for the first 3:29 of the game as they built a 6-1 lead until Wyoming's Spencer scored a layin at the 16:31 mark. Cummard responded with a bucket on the other end for BYU, but the Cowboys roared back thanks to seven more points from Spencer to take the lead at 12-10 with just under 14 minutes to play in the half. Plaisted scored the next six Cougar points to keep the game close, but BYU had no answer for Spencer, who scored 13 of the Cowboys' first 16 points to maintain a 16-14 Wyoming lead. A jumper from Young out of the timeout and a free throw from Plaisted allowed the Cougars to retake the lead at 17-16, but a 6-2 Wyoming spurt put the Cowboys up 22-19 with nine minutes to go. The Cowboys extended their lead to 28-23 until Rose drained a three-pointer to get the Cougars within two at 28-26 with 4:28 left in the half. Rose drained another three-pointer to give BYU a 31-30 lead with just over a minute to play, but the Cowboys scored the last four points of the half, the final bucket coming at the buzzer on an airball putback. The Cowboys opened the second half with an emphatic dunk from Okoye and a three-point play from Bienvenu Songondo, both playing in place of unavailable starters, to take a 39-33 lead. Young converted a three-point play of his own after a fastbreak bucket to get BYU within one point, but Wyoming responded with just its second three-point make in 13 tries to go back up by four at 42-38. Young and the Cowboys traded buckets on the next four possessions as Young scored nine straight Cougar points, but BYU was unable to get back on top as Spencer drained a three to go up 47-42. Ben Murdock jumped a 15-footer as the shot clock wound down on the next Cougar possession to keep the game close before Rose once again did his part with his third three-pointer of the night to tie things up at 47-47 with 11:56 left to play. Plaisted gave BYU its first lead of the half moments later with two big free throws followed by another make from long range by Rose to cap a 12-2 Cougar run and give BYU a 54-49 advantage at the 9:53 mark. Wyoming clawed its way back with four straight makes from the free-throw line to make it a one-possession game at 58-55. Young responded with two big makes from the line, but the Cowboys scored another putback to make the score 60-57. Wyoming looked to be on a roll after Plaisted missed a dunk and the Cowboys had numbers on the other end, but Brad Jones missed the easy layup and was called for a technical foul, resulting in free throws and possession for BYU. Young made one-of-two on the technical trip and then missed both after being fouled on the ensuing possession, but the second miss was rebounded by Plaisted and immediately kicked out to Cummard, who drained a huge three-pointer from the left corner to give BYU a 64-57 lead. Just when the Cougars were getting comfortable with a 68-59 advantage, BYU recorded three straight turnovers resulting in five Cowboy points to cut the lead to 68-64 with just over two minutes left to play. Austin Ainge stopped the bleeding with a free-throw make at the 1:55 mark, and the Cougars sealed the deal from the charity stripe in the last two minutes, scoring eight more to post the 77-73 win.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "This game was like the majority of the wins we've had this year. A couple guys stepped up and made some big plays, but it was a team win from top to bottom. We got some good play out of our bench, and then Keena Young was great down low. I'm really proud of our guys."

-- "We've got a lot of really good players, and as a staff we have confidence in all those guys. When our bench players get an opportunity to go in there and help our team, they get it done. Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess gave us big lifts that we need for our team to be successful."

-- "These guys are very smart players. They know when they step up to the line late in the game that those are big free throws. The thing I feel good about is that very few of our misses are way off. We're close, and our guys are right there. It's something that we need to work on. We know it's an issue, but you have to give the guys a lot of credit for the effort and the competitive spirit they had to be able to overcome leaving so many points at the line."

BYU NOTES

-- Individual Career Highs: Ben Murdock - 4 assists; Keena Young -- 29 points (tied), 13 free throws attempted; Lee Cummard -- 3 blocks (tied).

-- BYU is now 17-3 when scoring at least 70 points and 3-6 when allowing opponents to reach the 70-point threshold.

-- With a 31-30 rebounding advantage against the Cowboys, the Cougars are now 17-0 when winning the battle of the boards.

-- The Cougars trailed at halftime for just the fifth time this season and the first time in conference play, going into the locker room down 34-31 at the break. With the win, BYU has now come back from a halftime deficit twice this season, including overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit against Seton Hall. Overall, the Cougars are 16-2 when leading at the break, 2-3 when trailing and 0-1 when tied this season.

-- After losing five of their first six true road games this season, BYU has now won its last three games away from the Marriott Center. The Cougars have shot above 50 percent in their last four road games, including a .543 (25-for-46) mark against the Cowboys.

-- BYU's .500 (14-for-28) first-half shooting mark marked the fourth of five MWC road games in which the Cougars have shot at least 50 percent in the first period of play.

-- With 29 points at Wyoming, Keena Young has now scored in double figures in 20 of 24 games this season, including six outings with at least 20 points. Young's highlight reel against the Cowboys included a 9-0 personal run in the early minutes of the second half to keep the Cougars close. He tied his career high of 29 points set against Wyoming in Provo earlier this season.

-- After making 11 straight shots dating back four games, including scoring his first two attempts at Wyoming, Lee Cummard recorded his first miss since Jan. 24 on a three-pointer with 3:38 left in the first half. Prior to the miss, Cummard had made his first two shots at Wyoming, gone 3-for-3 against then-No. 25 UNLV, 3-for-3 at Utah and 3-for-3 against then-No. 13 Air Force since missing his last shot at New Mexico. Cummard finished the night with 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field, his 10th double-digit scoring outing of the year.

-- With two steals against Wyoming, Cummard has now recorded at least one takeaway in 20 of 24 games. Cummard leads BYU and ranks fifth in the MWC in that category. Cummard also tied his career high with three blocked shots against the Cowboys, his 12th game with at least one rejection.

-- After tying his own school record with eight three-pointers against UNLV last Saturday, Mike Rose continued his hot shooting from downtown against Wyoming, making 4-of-6 to score 12 points.

POTENTIAL FINALS OPPONENTS

The BYU-Wyoming winner will advance to face the winner of Friday's second semifinal contest pitting No. 2-seed UNLV against No. 6-seed Colorado State. BYU has played UNLV 23 times, holding a 12-11 edge in the series. The two teams split the season series with home wins. The series has been tied eight times over the last four years. The Rebels and Cougars have faced each other once in conference tournament play, meeting in the inaugural MWC Tournament finals in 2000 at the Thomas & Mack Center, with UNLV achieving its largest-ever margin of victory over BYU (23 points). BYU is 8-3 in Provo against UNLV and 4-8 in Las Vegas against the Rebels. BYU has won 10 of the 17 games as MWC opponents. BYU and Colorado State have met 127 times with the Cougars leading the series 81-46. The two teams split the season series with home wins. The Cougars own a 53-10 record in Provo while the Rams hold a 33-27 advantage in Fort Collins. CSU has a 3-1 advantage in neutral court games. The Rams won the lone MWC Tournament matchup between the two teams, upsetting the Cougars in the 2003 semifinals on their way to the title.

BYU NOTES

BYU'S LAST OUTING -- PLAISTED LEADS BYU TO QUARTERFINAL WIN

LAS -- Sophomore Trent Plaisted led the No. 23 BYU Cougars to a 77-64 win over the TCU Horned Frogs in the Mountain West Conference Tournament quarterfinals Thursday. BYU has now won 11 of its last 12 games and improves to 24-7 on the season and 3-0 against the Horned Frogs this year. BYU will advance to the MWC semifinals for the first time since 2004. Plaisted led all scorers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Also scoring in double figures for BYU was Mike Rose with 16 points and Jimmy Balderson with 10 points. Sophomore Lee Cummard's defensive play limited Brent Hackett, coming off a 24-point game against New Mexico, to two points. Austin Ainge finished the game with seven assists. Balderson opened the game by scoring on the team's first three-point attempt, which was soon followed by a Keena Young jumper, giving BYU a 5-0 lead. Turnovers plagued the Cougars early, allowing TCU the opportunity to tie the score at 8-8 with 14 minutes left in the first half. Rose made his first three-pointer of the night at the 11:30 mark, before TCU's Neiman Owens was sent to the free-throw line to complete a three-point play. BYU continued to struggle before Balderson drove to the basket and laid it in with just under nine minutes to play in the half. Young scored two points off a Horned Frog turnover to give the Cougars a 21-16 lead. The BYU bench continued to contribute as it has all season with Vuk Ivanovic's layup and ensuing rebound. TCU's Neil Dougherty capitalized on the Cougars' eighth turnover, narrowing BYU's lead to three points. With 4:32 left in the first half, Jonathan Tavernari's running layup was good off of a pass by Ainge. Ainge's second assist of the game resulted in a Plaisted one-handed dunk. BYU's successful defensive play with 1:21 left in the first half resulted in a Horned Frog shot clock violation. Plaisted recorded another dunk, putting the Cougars up 34-24. Young's second foul of the game sent Hackett to the charity stripe where he went 2-for-2, giving the Cougars a 10-point lead at 36-26 going into the half. Plaisted's jumper to open the second half gave BYU a 12-point lead followed by a similar play on the opposite end of the court by Femi Ibikunle. Young's assist to Balderson with 17:27 left in the second half resulted in two points for the Cougars, bringing the score to 42-32. Rose hit his second three-pointer of the game followed by a jump hook from Plaisted at the 12:58 mark. Ryan Wall drilled a three for the Horned Frogs, followed by another from Rose, bringing the score to 52-41. Following an 0-for-2 trip to the free-throw line for Balderson, Plaisted secured the rebound, scoring two points. With 11:33 left in the second half, Rose found his fourth basket from behind the arc, building on an 8-0 BYU run. Ben Murdock kicked it out to Ivanovic for a reverse layin, giving the Cougars a 61-42 lead with 7:38 to play in the game. TCU's Ibikunle went 1-for-2 from the line before a long three was made by Wall. Two made free throws by Murdock put BYU up by 20 points. With 3:35 left to play in the second half, a tip-in by Cummard gave the Cougars a 68-52 lead. TCU continued to fight with Kevin Langford scoring on a layup and later drawing a third foul on Young. Balderson scored on a running layin before Ibikunle followed suit with under two minutes to play in the game. Fernando Malaman scored two points to end the game. TCU was led by Langford with 23 points and Ibikunle with 13 points.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "I thought TCU played really, really well. They played hard. They battled. Our guys needed to respond to that. I thought we had a difficult time guarding them off the dribble. We probably fouled more than we should have."

-- "In the second half, I thought TCU did a good job of playing together. We hit some shots and were able to get a little bit of a lead and then ride that lead in."

-- "TCU did a really good job of controlling the pace of the game. We really like to initiate offense and push the ball. Defensively, Keena Young had guys all around him when he would make a catch."

-- "It took a little bit of time, but we finally figured out that some of those perimeter guys were going to be open when they were sagging a little bit, and we were able to hit a few jump shots, especially there in the second half."

-- "We've had balanced scoring all year long. Keena (Young) has been really consistent for us. Trent (Plaisted) has been really consistent for us. Those two are our leading scorerds. Our perimeter guys are all capable of having big nights. When we shoot the ball well from the perimeter, it really, really helps the inside game."

-- "Lee Cummard does a great job on perimeter scoring guards. He's done it from the very first game of the season. He works hard at it. We wear him out. It might affect his offensive game, but defensively he's long. He's just figured out a way to get through screens."

BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING

-- Individual Career Highs: Jonathan Tavernari -- 7 rebounds (tied).

-- Individual Season Highs: Mike Rose -- 3 rebounds (tied).

-- Team Season Highs/Lows: Highest rebounding margin - +22 (tied).

-- MWC Tournament Records -- With seven assists, Austin Ainge tied the BYU MWC Tournament record that he set in 2005 against New Mexico. Trent Plaisted's nine field goals is second behind Mekeli Wesley's mark of 11 in 2001 while Mike Rose's four three-pointers is tied for second with Wesley in 2001, just one behind Terrell Lyday's mark of five in 2001.

-- MWC Tournament History -- With the win, the Cougars have advanced to the MWC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2004. BYU is now 8-6 all-time in the MWC Tournament, including a 5-3 first-round record. The Cougars are also 7-3 at the event in Las Vegas including two finals appearances and one title (2001). This year marks BYU's first as the No. 1 seed, giving the Cougars a 1-0 record so far as the top team.

-- BYU is now 22-4 when scoring over 70 points and 20-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point threshold.

-- With a 46-24 rebounding advantage against the Horned Frogs, the Cougars are now 23-1 when winning the battle of the boards. BYU has posted a double-digit advantage on the glass 14 times this season and tied its season high in rebounding margin with +22 against TCU.

-- With a 42-30 scoring advantage inside, the Cougars remain undefeated this season when winning the points in the paint category at 18-0.

-- With a 36-26 advantage at the break, the Cougars enjoyed their 23rd halftime lead of the season and their 12th in double figures. Overall, BYU is 21-2 when leading at the break, 3-4 when trailing and 0-1 when tied. The Cougars have held their opponents under 30 points in the first half 17 times this season while topping the 30-point mark in all but three games.

-- Trent Plaisted topped the 20-point scoring mark for the fifth time this year and eighth time in his BYU career with 22 points against TCU on 9-for-12 shooting from the field. He also added nine rebounds.

-- Mike Rose came up big for BYU off the bench against the Horned Frogs, draining four three-pointers while scoring 16 points and tying his season high with three rebounds. Rose has come off the bench and drained at least three three-pointers seven times this season.

-- Five different Cougars scored BYU's first 10 points of the game as Jimmy Balderson struck first with a three-pointer followed by a layin from Young and a free-throw make by Trent Plaisted. Lee Cummard then recorded a putback at the 15:03 mark and Mike Rose rounded out the balanced scoring effort with a jumper to give BYU a 10-8 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 24-7 record through 31 games this year. In the 105-year history of BYU men's basketball, only three teams of the 36 that played at least 31 games during a season earned a better record than this year's Cougar squad (noting that 69 teams did not total 31 games during the season, including the 20-5 NIT Championship team in 1965-66). Three other BYU teams have equaled the current Cougars' 24-7 record. (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 24-7 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.

20-WIN SEASONS

At 24-7 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.

WINNING BIG

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.

CLOSE CALLS

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 then-No. 20 Air Force, 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 8, 2007)

Wins Team This year Next home game

31 BYU 17-0 Next Season

30 Memphis 18-0 March 9 vs. Tulane (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 have split two neutral court games this year with a loss against then-No. 25 Michigan State at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich., and a win against TCU in the MWC Tournament.

VICTORY STREAK

BYU has won 11 of its last 12 games overall with victories over New Mexico (twice), Air Force (twice), Utah (twice), UNLV, Wyoming, TCU (twice) 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.

FOR STARTERS

Coach Rose has used four different starting lineups this year but has gone with the same starting five in the last 16 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 28 starts. Rashaun Broadus started 11 of 15 games before being suspended for the season. Austin Ainge has started 23 games.

FROM DOWNTOWN

With 233 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 seventh nationally in three-point shooting (.409) and led the league in three-point percentage (.457) in MWC play. Cougar players finished 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 67.9 points. BYU is 20-0 when opponents score less than 70 points and 4-7 when they score 70 or more. BYU is 22-4 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 23-1 this season when outrebounding its opponents and 1-6 when losing the battle of the boards. The Cougars lead the MWC in rebounding average (37.3) and rebounding margin (+6.4). BYU posted its largest margin of the season with a +22 mark against then-No. 13 Air Force (42-20) and against TCU in the MWC Tournament (46-24). Senior Keena Young is sixth at 6.3 rpg while sophomore Trent Plaisted is tied for seventh on the glass at 6.2 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 31 games this year. He leads BYU in scoring overall (16.8), which ranks sixth among MWC players, and in rebounding (6.3), sixth in the MWC. He is also fifth in the league in field-goal percentage (.551) and eighth 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 10.

VETERAN LEADERSHIP AT THE POINT - AUSTIN AINGE

Senior Austin Ainge is averaging a team-best 4.35 assists, fifth in the MWC, while ranking fourth in the conference with a 1.88 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 12 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 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting .549 from the floor, .439 on threes and .811 from the line. He ranks among the top 15 in the MWC in seven 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 24 of 31 games, including a career-high 5 steals against UNLV, and his hit a three-pointer in 23 of 31 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 12.5 points per game on .547 shooting from the field, seventh in the MWC. He also ranks second for BYU and is tied for seventh in the league with 6.2 rebounds per game while adding 1.35 blocks per game, eighth in the conference. Plaisted has scored in double figures in 20 games, helping the Cougars go 16-4 in those contests, while scoring at least 20 points in five 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 11 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).

KEENA YOUNG EARNS USBWA ALL-DISTRICT HONORS

After leading the Cougars to their first outright league title since 1988 and first national ranking since 1993, BYU's Keena Young has been named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District VIII Team. The USBWA announced men's all-district teams in nine regions from coast to coast, based on voting from its national membership. Each team consists of a coach of the year and 10 student-athletes, including the player of the year. District VIII represents the top players from teams in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Young is one of seven student-athletes to represent the MWC and one of four players from a Utah university to earn all-district accolades this season. Joining Young on the District VIII Team are Nevada's Nick Fazekas, who was named the Player of the Year, along with fellow-MWC players Jacob Burtschi of Air Force, Brandon Ewing of Wyoming, Luke Nevill of Utah, Jason Smith of Colorado State and Wendell White of UNLV. The team is rounded out by Utah State's Jaycee Carroll, New Mexico State's Justin Hawkins and Weber State's David Patten. Wildcat head coach Randy Rahe received Coach of the Year honors. San Diego State's Brandon Heath was selected to the District IX Team. Young is the fourth Cougar in the last five years to earn USBWA All-District accolades. BYU center Trent Plaisted was one of just three freshmen in the nation to be selected last year while former center Rafael Araujo was honored in 2004 and former Cougar swingman Travis Hansen was named to the team in 2003. In addition to being voted the MWC's Player of the Year by the league's head coaches and selected media, Young also garnered MWC Player of the Year honors from CollegeInsider.com. The popular college sports website named a Player of the Year, Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year from each conference including independents, selecting SDSU's Heath as MVP and UNLV's Lon Kruger as Coach of the Year in the MWC.

YOUNG NAMED TO NABC DISTRICT 13 FIRST TEAM

Senior forward Keena Young became the first BYU men's basketball player since Rafael Araujo in 2004 to be honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as one of the best players in the country. The NABC announced Wednesday its 2007 Division I All-District teams, naming Young to the District 13 First Team. In all, 150 student-athletes representing 15 districts were recognized as the nation's best men's collegiate basketball players as voted on by members of the NABC. Young is one of eight student-athletes to represent the MWC and one of three players from a Utah university to earn all-district accolades this season. Joining Young on the District 13 First Team are Nevada's Nick Fazekas and San Diego State's Brandon Heath, who both earned first-team honors last year, along with Colorado State's Jason Smith and Air Force's Dan Nwaelele. District 13 Second Team members include Coby Karl of Boise State, Rodney Stuckey of Eastern Washington, Jacob Burtschi of Air Force, Brandon Ewing of Wyoming and Luke Nevill of Utah. UNLV's Wendell White was named to the District 15 Second Team, while Utah State's Jaycee Carroll was honored as a second-team member of District 14. BYU players have received all-district recognition 82 times by the NABC since 1950.

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