GAME 33 - No. 23 BYU Plays in MWC Championship Saturday

MWC Playe of the Year Keena Young will look to lead the Cougars to their first MWC Tournament Championship since 2001 Saturday at UNLV. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU GAME #33 FAST FACTS

No. 23 BYU COUGARS -- #1 SEED (25-7, 13-3 MWC)

at

No. 25 UNLV -- #2 SEED (27-6, 12-4 MWC)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thomas & Mack Center (18,500)

Las Vegas

4 p.m. PT (5 p.m. MT)

Coaches:

BYU, Dave Rose (45-16 in second season; same overall)

UNLV, Lon Kruger (61-33 in third season; 379-266 in 21st season overall)

Series:

BYU leads, 12-11, after the two teams split the season series with home victories

TV:

VERSUS (Tim Neverett - play-by-play, Craig Ehlo - color)

Radio:

KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (3 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 HOST UNLV IN MWC CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY

After a 96-84 semifinal victory over fifth-seeded Wyoming, No. 23 BYU (25-7, 13-3 MWC) will continue its Mountain West Conference Tournament run on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT (5 p.m. MT) against the second-seeded and Tournament-host No. 25 UNLV Rebels (27-6, 12-4 MWC), winners of their semifinal game against No. 6-seed Colorado State. The game, which will be played at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, will be televised nationally on VERSUS and can be heard live on the radio beginning with the pregame show at 3 p.m. PT (4 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 20 of their last 23 games and 12 of the last 13 including Friday's semifinal victory.

UP NEXT

The winner of Saturday's Championship game will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament while the loser will be eligible to receive an at-large berth. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced Sunday at 4 p.m. MT on CBS.

NOTING THE COUGARS

-- Won outright Mountain West regular-season title with 13-3 mark

-- Is 20-3 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. Plays UNLV on its home floor in MWC Tourney Finale Saturday

-- 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 - losses were at UCLA, Michigan State, Boise State and Lamar

-- Ranks in the top 30 nationally in six statistical categories

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 Wyoming on Friday, BYU has won 12 of its last 13 games, including three wins over ranked teams. BYU is currently tied for the nation's longest active home winning streak (31 games).

-- MWC Player of the Year Keena Young leads BYU this year in scoring (16.6) and rebounding (6.4). All-MWC Second Team selection Trent Plaisted is second on the boards (6.3) and in scoring (12.9), while All-MWC honorable mention recipient Austin Ainge leads BYU with 4.28 assists per game.

-- The Cougars lead the MWC in scoring (78.3), field-goal percentage (.492), three-point field-goal percentage (.414), rebounding average (37.5), rebounding margin (+6.3) and assists (16.1) 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 16, 18 and 19 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 2-1 on a neutral court.

BYU IN THE MWC

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 (162, 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 semifinal victory over Wyoming, the Cougars now have a 9-6 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, but hadn't advanced to the finals since until this season. 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 3-2 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 21-19 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 2-0 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 and No. 2 seeds are 2-0 while the No. 5, No. 6 and No. 8 seeds went 1-1. The No. 3, No. 4, No. 7 and No. 9 seeds did not win a game.

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).

MWC TEAMS IN THE NCAA

In the first seven years of the MWC, eight of the nine conference members have advanced to the NCAA Tournament at least once. TCU is the lone team not to advance but the Horned Frogs played in the MWC for the first time last season. New Mexico became the last of the other MWC teams to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the 2005 MWC Tournament. 2006 MWC-Champion San Diego State received the league's automatic bid last season while Air Force was selected as an at-large team (BYU was the other postseason MWC team last year, advancing to the NIT).

BYU AND MWC IN POSTSEASON

BYU has earned an invite to a postseason tournament in six of the seven years of the MWC, joining Utah in leading all MWC teams. BYU is second to Utah in NCAA appearances since the formation of the MWC (BYU has made three NCAA and three NIT while Utah has made five NCAA and one NIT). UNLV has received five invites (one NCAA, four NIT). New Mexico has received four (one NCAA, three NIT) while Wyoming has three (one NCAA, two NIT), San Diego State has three (two NCAA, one NIT) and Air Force has three (two NCAA and one NIT). Colorado State has been to one NCAA Tournament. TCU's first year was last season.

LOOKING AT UNLV

The 25th-ranked Rebels are 27-6 overall and finished second in the Mountain West Conference with a 12-4 mark. UNLV has won eight of its last nine games since losing to BYU in Provo on Feb. 3 and currently own a six-game victory streak. UNLV is also 18-1 at home this season, having won 16 straight at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels are led by senior Wendell White, who averages 14.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game - both team bests. He is shooting .511 from the floor. Sophomore guard Wink Adams is second on the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg while adding 3.8 rpg and a team-high 51 steals. Adams scored a career-high 27 points against BYU earlier this year in Las Vegas. Arizona State transfer Kevin Kruger runs the point for the Rebels and is averaging 13.7 ppg and 5.1 assists per game. The senior guard who is also the son of UNLV head coach Lon Kruger missed six games due to injury, including the Rebels' first outing this year against BYU in Las Vegas. Senior Gaston Essengue is second on the team in rebounding at 4.8 rpg while adding 7.6 ppg. As a team, the Rebels average 75.2 ppg on .450 shooting from the field, including a .363 mark from three-point range, while holding opponents to 66.5 ppg on .425 shooting. UNLV trails the battle of the boards 35-1-34.8. Rebel head coach Lon Kruger is 61-33 in his third season at UNLV and 379-266 in his 21st year overall.

UNLV'S PROBABLE STARTERS

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

G 01 Wink Adams 6-0 190 So. 14.3 3.8

G 02 Kevin Kruger 6-2 185 Sr. 13.7 2.5

G 03 Michael Umeh 6-2 205 Sr. 7.0 2.7

F 05 Wendell White 6-6 215 Sr. 14.4 6.3

F 52 Gaston Essengue 6-8 245 Sr. 7.6 4.8

UNLV'S LAST OUTING -- NO. 25 REBELS RUN INTO CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

LAS -- Nobody's enjoying the switch from the Rocky Mountains to the high desert more than the UNLV Runnin' Rebels. The 25th-ranked Rebels swept into the championship game of the Mountain West tournament Friday night with a 88-72 semifinal win over Colorado State at the rocking Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels handily won their 16th straight game on their homecourt, where they're 17-1 this season. "It's nice. We sleep in our beds and play in our gym," said Kevin Kruger, a fifth-year senior who transferred from Arizona State to play for his father, Lon, this season. "To me if feels great," Wink Adams added. "I mean, it doesn't change for me. It's just like playing in the regular season, playing at home in front of fans." They'll be counting on those fans to help them Saturday night when the second-seeded Rebels (27-6), ranked this week for the first time since the final week of the 1992-93 season, face regular-season champion BYU (25-7) for the trophy. The teams split this season, with UNLV winning at home 88-75 but losing on the road by 27 last month. Although the winner gets an automatic NCAA tournament berth, the loser will get an at-large bid. The conference was hoping for four bids, but Air Force lost its last four games and San Diego State was upset by Colorado State in the tournament quarterfinals, making for a nervous Selection Sunday for those schools. The Rebels are 9-2 in the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas, but went just 4-3 in three seasons in Denver. They won the inaugural conference crown in 2000 at the Thomas & Mack. Kruger scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half and dished out nine assists. Adams added 18 points and Michael Umeh 15. "The way we play as a team leaves a lot of people open," Kevin Kruger said. "Like we've said from Day 1, there isn't really one person you can focus on. I was open. My teammates were finding me. The ball was just going in tonight." Jason Smith's 16 points and 11 rebounds led the Rams (17-13), who got 14 points from Stuart Creason and 13 each from Cory Lewis and Tim Denson. UNLV led 41-31 at the half and started the second half on a 10-1 run to take away any doubt about the outcome. The Rebels hit 15-of-25 from the arc, with Kruger leading the way at 5-for-7, although Matt Shaw's 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left drew the ire of Lon Kruger, who made Shaw apologize to Rams coach Dale Layer. "They're on their homecourt and they're shooting the lights out," Layer said. "Who's going to beat them tonight?" UNLV's 27 wins are its most since 1990-91 when the Rebels went 34-1.

SERIES NOTES

This will be the 24th meeting in the series between the two schools that dates back to 1981. BYU holds a slim 12-11 series advantage thanks to a 90-63 Cougar win earlier this season in Provo after a UNLV win in Las Vegas. The two teams split the season sereis last year with each squad winning on its home floor. BYU swept the season series in 2004 and split the series in 2005, with each team winning on the road. The series has been tied eight times over the last four years. The Cougars won the first two meetings in the series in 1981 before the Rebels ran off four straight victories. Prior to 2004, the last time the Cougars swept the regular season series was in 1999-2000. The Rebels came back that year to achieve their largest margin of victory over BYU (23 points) in the title game of the 2000 MWC Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. BYU is 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. The two teams have met just once in the MWC Tournament, with BYU losing 76-59 in the 2000 Championship game on the Rebels' home floor at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Overall Series Record: Series tied 12-11

BYU Record in Provo: 8-3 (8-3 in the Marriott Center)

BYU Record in Las Vegas: 4-8 (3-8 in the Thomas & Mack Center)

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0

BYU Record under Dave Rose: 2-2

BYU Record in Overtime Games: 2-0

Last Overtime Game: 2005, won in OT in Las Vegas, 82-72

Longest BYU Win Streak: 3 (2004-2005)

Longest UNLV Win Streak: 4 (1981-98)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 28, 91-63 in 2001

Largest UNLV Margin of Victory: 23, 79-56 in 2000

Most Points Scored by BYU: 92 in 1981

Most Points Scored by UNLV: 90 in 1981

IN PROVO -- THREE-POINTERS PUSH BYU PAST NO. 25 UNLV

PROVO -- The Cougars broke No. 25 UNLV's five-game winning streak on Saturday in the Marriott Center, deciding to return the favor after having their own seven-game winning streak snapped earlier this season while at the Thomas & Mack Center. A crowd of 15,899 was present to witness the final score of 90-63. Mike Rose led all scorers for BYU with 27 points, breaking his career high, followed by Austin Ainge with 17 points and Trent Plaisted with 12. Rose also tied the BYU individual record that he set for most three-pointers made in a game with eight. Lee Cummard had a perfect game, shooting 3-for-3 from the field. The team set a new school record for three-pointers made in a game with 15. The win marked BYU's second victory against a ranked team this season. The team previously beat No. 13 Air Force on Jan. 27 in the Marriott Center. Also, with the victory BYU extended its home winning streak to 28 games, tied for the second-longest in the nation. The Cougars have now won 12 of the last 14 games and are 17-6 overall and 7-2 in the Mountain West Conference. BYU jumped out to an early 9-3 lead, capped by Jimmy Balderson's first recorded dunk of the season. Both teams continued to trade baskets, quickly driving up the score. With 10:21 to play in the half, Mike Rose hit back-to-back three-pointers to extend BYU's lead to eight at 24-16. With 7:40 left in the half, Rose remained perfect behind the arc by making his fourth three-pointer, bringing the Cougar lead to 35-23. Vuk Ivanovic earned his first points of the game with just under seven minutes to play, followed by a jumper by Keena Young. Rose's fifth three came a few minutes later, bringing the score to 44-28. Sam Burgess scored his first points of the game with 2:50 to go in the half, recording the Cougars' ninth three-pointer of the half. A steal by Jonathan Tavernari resulted in two points for Austin Ainge. At the half, BYU was 9-of-15 from behind the arc and .588 from the field. Austin Ainge scored the first five points to open the second half of play, bringing the score to 54-34. With just under 16 minutes on the clock, he made his third three of the game. A significant blocked shot by Trent Plaisted turned the possession over to BYU with 14:52 remaining. After three made free throws by Rose, the Rebel's Wink Adams hit a jumper, bringing the score to 66-43. BYU answered with a one-handed dunk by Plaisted. Rose's first three-pointer of the half came with just under eight minutes to play. On the next possession Adams of UNLV came back with one of his own. A one-for-three trip to the free throw line by the Rebels' Curtis Terry was followed by Plaisted's third dunk of the night with 4:25 left to play. Tavernari's three with 2:08 on the clock tied BYU's record for the most baskets made from behind the three-point line. With just over 30 seconds to play, Rose made his eighth three-pointer of the night. UNLV was led by Adams with 14 points and Gaston Essengue with 6 rebounds.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "The guys really responded well from an emotional win earlier in the week."

-- "I like it when guys come off the bench and make shots. It's really good for our energy and chemistry. There was good play off the bench tonight and great play from Mike Rose."

-- "We really wanted to work on the inside tonight but had a lot of opportunities from outside the perimeter."

-- "Tonight, you get someone who goes 8-for-10 from the perimeter, and that's a special night. Mike Rose had a great night."

UNLV Head Coach Lon Kruger

-- "It was a total domination by BYU. They got us on our heels early, and they just kept getting better."

-- "They got on top of us early, and we didn't respond in a way that we could change the momentum back."

-- "We have to learn from this, make progress and get better. We didn't win many battles today."

-- "Basically, they got to all the loose balls, got the long rebounds and made all the energy plays."

BYU NOTES

-- Individual Career Highs: Mike Rose -- 27 points, 8 three-pointers made (tied); Ben Murdock - 4 assists; Lee Cummard - 5 steals.

-- Team Season Highs/Lows: Most points scored in a half against Div. I -- 49 (first); .682 three-point shooing percentage.

-- Records -- BYU set a new school record for three-pointers made in a game with 15 against UNLV. Mike Rose tied the BYU individual record for three-pointers made in a game with eight against UNLV (set by Rose in 2003).

-- BYU's win over No. 25 UNLV extended its home winning streak to 28 games, which is tied for the second-longest active home victory streak in the nation. The Cougars are 14-0 at home this season and 400-116 (.775) all-time in the Marriott Center.

-- The Cougars' victory over No. 25 UNLV marked the second consecutive BYU win over a ranked team in the Marriott Center, including last Saturday's win over No. 13 Air Force. 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.

-- With a matchup against the No. 25 Rebels, BYU has now faced four ranked teams this season, the only Mountain West Conference team to do so. The Cougars are 2-2 in those games with a 90-63 win over 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.

-- With a +27 (90-63) margin of victory against UNLV, BYU has won four of its nine MWC games this season by more than 20 points, including 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 10 games by 20 points or more in MWC play since the formation of the league prior to the 1999-2000 season.

-- BYU is now 16-3 when scoring at least 70 points and 15-0 when holding opponents below the 70-point threshold.

-- With a 38-30 rebounding advantage against the Rebels, the Cougars are now 16-0 when winning the battle of the boards.

-- Leading 49-34 against UNLV, BYU went into the locker room with a halftime lead for the 18th time this season, including its eighth double-digit lead, The Cougars have scored over 40 points in the first half five times this season. The Cougars are now 16-2 when leading at the break. BYU is also 16-0 when leading at the five-minute mark and 16-0 when leading at the one-minute mark.

-- The Cougars' .682 (15-for-22) three-point shooting marked the 12th time this season BYU has shot above .400 from three-point range and the ninth time this year the Cougars have topped .500. BYU ranked 15th in the country in three-point shooting percentage entering the UNLV game.

-- Austin Ainge scored in double figures for the seventh time this season with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range.

IN LAS VEGAS -- COUGARS' WIN STREAK ENDS AT UNLV

LAS -- The BYU men's basketball team saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end Saturday night as the Cougars fell, 83-75, at UNLV. Sophomore Lee Cummard was the high scorer for the Cougars as he posted a career-high 18 points while tying his personal-best with a team-high five assists. Senior Keena Young scored 16 points in the game, all after halftime, while sophomore Trent Plaisted added 13 points and senior Mike Rose posted 12. Plaisted paced BYU on the boards with nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Wink Adams led UNLV with a career-high 27 points. UNLV struck first with a layin at the 18:37 mark, but Plaisted matched the Rebel bucket with one of his own to get BYU on the board. Plaisted and Cummard set the tone early for the Cougars as the pair scored BYU's first 11 points to give the Cougars an early 11-8 lead despite two quick fouls on leading scorer Young. After UNLV cut the lead to one at 11-10, Fernando Malaman ended a 3:23 BYU drought with a jumper from the free-throw line to maintain the Cougar advantage. UNLV got back to within one on the next possession, but Mike Rose extended the Cougar lead to 16-12 with his 18th three-point make of the year. Cummard and Plaisted then scored on back-to-back BYU trips to cap a 7-0 Cougar run and give BYU a 20-12 lead at the 9:14 mark. Cummard kept the Cougar momentum going with his second three-pointer of the night at the 7:37 mark to give BYU its largest lead of the game to that point at 25-14. The Rebels responded with a three ball of their own and then picked off Austin Ainge to get another score and cut the lead to 25-19. Ainge made up for the turnover with a three-point make on the other end, but Malaman picked up his second foul on the next UNLV possession, resulting in two Rebel free throws. With both Malaman and Young on the bench with two fouls apiece, Coach Rose called on true freshman Jonathan Tavernari, who drained his first two three-point attempts to give BYU a 34-25 advantage. However, 11 straight UNLV points gave the Rebels their first lead since 6-4 with a 36-34 advantage with 41 seconds to play in the half. A layin from Plaisted to end a 3:37 BYU scoring drought sent the Cougars into the locker room with their first halftime tie of the year at 36-36. Jimmy Balderson put BYU back in front with a pair of free throws just 26 seconds into the second half. UNLV could not convert three early Cougar turnovers, going 0-for-6 to start the half, allowing BYU to extend its lead to 41-36 on a three-pointer from Cummard. However, after struggling to find the basket to begin the half, UNLV put together a 14-4 run to take a 50-45 lead. Young, the only Cougar to score during the spurt, added his second dunk of the year to get BYU within three at 50-47, but the Rebels weren't done scoring as they increased their lead to 54-47 thanks in part to strong rebounding on the offensive glass. The UNLV scoring continued as the Rebels matched BYU's large lead of the game with a 59-48 advantage at the 9:22 mark. Young continued his second-half scoring run with a three-point play but was answered on the other end with a three-pointer to maintain the 11-point Rebel lead. After UNLV pushed its advantage to 13 points at 66-53, Rose drained his second three-pointer of the night, but the Rebels' hot shooting continued as they made their eighth shot in 10 attempts to take a 74-58 lead with 2:56 left to play. Rose drained back-to-back three-pointers between the two- and three-minute marks to get BYU to within 10 points at 74-64, and then Ben Murdock drained a three after two UNLV free throws to cut the deficit to single digits at 76-67. The Cougars kept pushing as the clock wound down, getting to within seven points at 80-73 on a three-pointer from Cummard, but time was not on BYU's side as the Cougars could not complete the comeback.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "They played better than we did over the course of 40 minutes. We had a lot of chances, but we couldn't get it done."

-- "We got stuck for quite a while where we didn't score. We got the shots we wanted but they weren't going in and then we started shooting quick shots. Keena (Young) got us going a little bit but by then we were down 12 or 13 points and had to dig out of a hole."

-- "Tonight we didn't have a good enough offensive game combined with a good enough defensive game to get this done."

-- "Lee Cummard continues to play well. He continues to be consistent for us. We used him to break the pressure for us a lot tonight. I think that he just continues to get better."

-- "It's a tough league. It's a long process. We jumped out to a nice start, but tonight we had a setback. But we've got a long way to go."

BYU NOTES

-- Individual Career Highs: Lee Cummard -- 18 points, 7 field goals made, 4 three-point field goals made, 5 assists (tied); Fernando Malaman -- 2 assists (tied); Vuk Ivanovic -- 2 assists (tied).

-- The loss at UNLV snapped a seven-game Cougar winning streak, their longest since the 2003-04 season.

-- The Cougars are now 12-2 when scoring at least 70 points with losses at Lamar and at UNLV and 1-5 when allowing opponents to score at least 70 points. Prior to the 83-75 loss, BYU had held opponents under the 70-point mark in seven straight games. The Cougars have scored at least 70 points in nine straight games.

-- With a .571 (12-for-21) three-point shooting mark against UNLV, BYU has now shot above .400 from behind the arc in four straight games and eight on the season. The Cougars have shot at least .500 from three-point range in five games.

-- BYU's .750 (9-for-12) free-throw efficiency marked its highest percentage since shooting .867 (13-for-15) against San Jose State on Dec. 6.

-- After outrebounding their opponents in six straight games, including a double-digit margin in the last five, the Cougars have been bested on the glass in the last two games, including a 39-31 deficit at UNLV. BYU entered the game leading the Mountain West Conference in both rebounding average and rebounding margin. The Cougars are now 11-0 this season when outrebounding their opponents and 1-5 when losing the battle of the boards.

-- BYU went into the locker room at the half tied for the first time this season at 36-36. The Cougars have led at the half in 12 games and trailed in four.

-- Keena Young bounced back from a six-point performance against TCU in which he was hampered by foul trouble to score 16 points against the Rebels, marking the 15th time in 17 games he has scored in double figures. All of Young's points came in the second half.

-- With a three-point make at the 10:38 mark, Mike Rose has now made a three-pointer in nine straight games, just one game short of his career record. Rose has come on strong for BYU as of late, scoring 68 points in the last nine games (7.6 ppg), including 12 against UNLV, after scoring just 11 points in the first eight games (1.4 ppg).

-- Plaisted and Cummard combined for BYU's first 11 points as Plaisted scored six and Cummard scored five points in the first 4:48 of the game.

-- Plaisted recorded his 15th dunk of the season and the 48th of his career just 4:48 into the game. BYU's big man has slammed one home in 11 of 17 games this year. Young also recorded a dunk in the game, his second of the season and fifth of his career.

BYU NOTES

BYU'S LAST OUTING -- PLAISTED'S CAREER NIGHT LEADS BYU TO TITLE GAME

LAS -- The BYU men's basketball team (25-7) will be heading to the MWC Tournament Championship game for the first time since 2001 after beating Wyoming 96-84 in Friday's semifinal. BYU was led by All-MWC center Trent Plaisted, who tied his career high with 27 points and posted 10 boards. Lee Cummard, Austin Ainge and MWC Player of the Year Keena Young each scored in double figures with 21, 14 and 12 points, respectively. The Cougars began the game hot with Cummard hitting two threes and Ainge getting a mid-range jumper to take a quick 8-2 lead. Young then got a pair of free throw, which was immediately followed by a two-handed throwdown by Cummard, forcing Wyoming to take an early timeout with 16:38 left in the first half. BYU came out of the timeout going right at the Cowboys as Ainge hit a three and Cummard posted a layup. Wyoming thought the media timeout might cool the Cougars off but Jimmy Balderson hit a three at the top of the key to extend the lead to 20-5 and continue BYU's hot shooting. Plaisted then took over, scoring 11 straight for BYU and spurring a 17-1 Cougar run. MWC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Tavernari then gave Coach Rose huge minutes off the bench, hitting his first attempt from the field, and was followed by a Mike Rose three-pointer extending the lead 38-13. The Cougars traded baskets with Wyoming the rest of the first half and went into the intermission up 54-35. BYU shot 60 percent behind the arc in the period and was led by Plaisted and Cummard's 17 and 12 points, respectively. BYU came out of the locker room struggling to score until Balderson drove the lane and dished to Plaisted for a crowd raising one-handed slam at the 17:30 mark. On the next Cougar possession Balderson hit a deep three to extend the lead to 59-37. Over the next six minutes Wyoming held BYU to just seven points as the Cowboys tried to claw their way back into the game down by 16 with 10:29 left. Though the Cougars were struggling offensively, they took valuable time off the clock on the offensive end, making it difficult for Wyoming to mount any sort of quick comeback. BYU got back on track with a mid-range jumper by Young and a pair of Plaisted free throws to maintain a 70-53 lead with 9:06 remaining. Over the next four minutes Wyoming put pressure on BYU every time the Cougars brought the ball up the court, forcing BYU to turn the ball over and take difficult shots. Right after Wyoming got within seven of the BYU lead Ainge hit two huge free throws, and then Rose added the dagger with a deep three at the top of the key to extend the lead to 82-72 with 2:19 left. BYU then got back-to-back defensive stops and a pair of free throws from Young and Cummard to go up 14 with 1:30 remaining. The Cowboys then went on an 8-1 run to get within seven of the Cougars but, after failing to convert on the offensive end, they were forced to foul the rest of the way, resulting in the 96-84 BYU win.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "I'm very proud of our players," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "We came out and got off to a great start. We were playing well together, we were unselfish and sharing the ball and we were hitting shots. We got a nice lead and were able to carry that lead to victory."

-- "I think a lot of it was Wyoming; they're very athletic. You get in a situation at this time of year when players realize that the season's over if you don't win, and it changes the mindset. I think they came out in the second half with great determination. I think we were real fortunate we played as well as we did in the first half."

-- "There seems to be a lot more excitement here in Las Vegas. There seems to be a lot more excitement here as far as ticket requests are concerned. That must mean there's a lot more people that are here."

-- "When things got close, mainly we were just trying to be positive and get some confidence going. All we needed to do was make a free throw or make a shot, and it would really settle everything down. But we knew they were going to continue to contest every pass, contest every dribble, contest every catch, and that we just needed to get ourself in a positive mind frame. We just needed to finish the game off."

-- "I think Mike Rose's three was very big for our confidence. But I also think that put-back that Lee had sometime in that stretch was a real big shot for us. I've said this all year long: it's hard to win games. Your guys have to really compete for 40 minutes. I thought our guys did really well down the stretch."

BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING

-- Individual Career Highs: Trent Plaisted -- 27 points (tied), Lee Cummard -- 21 points.

-- Individual Season Highs: Trent Plaisted -- 17 points in a half (first).

-- Team Season Highs/Lows: 54 points in a half (first).

-- MWC Tournament Records -- BYU's 54 first-half points set an MWC Tournament record while its 96 points scored is fourth all-time and its .643 three-point shooting percentage is third.

-- BYU MWC Tournament Records -- The Cougars' 96 points is the most they've scored in the MWC Tournament while Trent Plaisted's 27 points is third, his 10 field goals is second and his 10 rebounds is tied for fifth. Keena Young's 10 rebounds is also tied for fifth.

-- MWC Tournament History -- With the win, the Cougars have advanced to the MWC Tournament finals for the third time in event history and the first time since 2001. BYU is now 9-6 all-time in the MWC Tournament, including a 3-2 semifinals record. The Cougars are also 8-3 at the event in Las Vegas including their two previous finals appearances with one title (2001). This year marks BYU's first as the No. 1 seed, giving the Cougars a 2-0 record so far as the top team.

-- BYU is now 23-4 when scoring over 70 points and 5-7 when allowing opponents to surpass the 70-point threshold.

-- With a 42-38 rebounding advantage against the Cowboys, the Cougars are now 24-1 when winning the battle of the boards.

-- BYU has now shot above .500 from the field in 10 of the last 14 games, including a .518 mark against Wyoming. The Cougars have also shot above .400 from three-point range in 11 of the last 13 games with a .643 efficiency against the Cowboys. BYU has topped 60 percent from long range four times this year.

-- With a 54-35 advantage at the break, the Cougars enjoyed their 24th halftime lead of the season and their 13th in double figures. Overall, BYU is 22-2 when leading at the break, 3-4 when trailing and 0-1 when tied. The Cougars' 54 first-half points is the most they've scored in a half all season, led by Trent Plaisted's 17 points, also a season high for points in a half.

-- BYU had two players record double-doubles for the second time this season as Trent Plaisted posted his third of the year and the ninth of his career with 27 points and 10 rebounds and Keena Young added his sixth of the season and ninth of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

-- Keena Young recorded his 1000th career point on a free-throw make just 3:30 into the game. Young is the 36th Cougar to join BYU's elite 1000 Point Club.

-- With 27 points against the Cowboys after a 22-point performance against TCU, Trent Plaisted has recorded back-to-back 20-point outings for the second time this season, reaching the 20-point scoring mark for the sixth time this year. He scored 11 straight points for BYU during the first half to give the Cougars a 31-8 lead and established a season-high for points scored in a half with 17 in the first period of play.

-- BYU began the game 10-for-13 (.769) from the field, including a 4-for-4 mark from three-point range, to build a 26-6 lead.

-- The 20-point lead marked the 12th time this season the Cougars have led by as many as 20 points in a game, including eight times against MWC opponents and the last three straight games.

- Wyoming did not score back-to-back baskets from the field until two makes at the 5:23 and 5:04 marks of the first half.

-- Lee Cummard scored 10 of the Cougars' first 17 points in the game, reaching double-digit points after less than five minutes of action.

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

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 25-7 record through 32 games this year. In the 105-year history of BYU men's basketball, only one team of the 36 that played at least 32 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' 25-7 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 25-7 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 opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll, including an 8-47 mark on the road and a 1-1 record against the Rebels. However, BYU is 131-53 all-time as a ranked team.

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 are currently tied for 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 9, 2007)

Wins Team This year Next home game

31 BYU 17-0 Next Season

31 Memphis 19-0 March 10 vs. Houston (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 are 2-1 in 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 wins against TCU and Wyoming in the MWC Tournament.

VICTORY STREAK

BYU has won 12 of its last 13 games overall with victories over New Mexico (twice), Air Force (twice), Utah (twice), UNLV, Wyoming (twice), 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 17 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 29 starts. Rashaun Broadus started 11 of 15 games before being suspended for the season. Austin Ainge has started 24 games.

FROM DOWNTOWN

With 242 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 17 times on the season, including 11 of the last 13 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 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 78.3 points and allowing 68.4 points. BYU is 20-0 when opponents score less than 70 points and 5-7 when they score 70 or more. BYU is 23-4 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 12-0 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 24-1 this season when outrebounding its opponents and 1-6 when losing the battle of the boards. The Cougars lead the MWC in rebounding average (37.5) and rebounding margin (+6.3). 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 fifth at 6.4 rpg while sophomore Trent Plaisted is sixth on the glass at 6.3 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 27 out of 32 games this year. He leads BYU in scoring overall (16.6), which ranks sixth among MWC players, and in rebounding (6.4), fifth in the MWC. He is also ninth in the league in field-goal percentage (.541) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.803). The senior co-captain has led BYU in scoring 13 times and rebounding 13 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 11.

VETERAN LEADERSHIP AT THE POINT - AUSTIN AINGE

Senior Austin Ainge is averaging a team-best 4.28 assists, fifth in the MWC, while ranking fourth in the conference with a 1.85 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 13 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 9.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting .558 from the floor, .442 on threes and .820 from the line. He ranks among the top 15 in the MWC in eight 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 25 of 32 games, including a career-high 5 steals against UNLV, and his hit a three-pointer in 24 of 32 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 12.9 points per game on .557 shooting from the field, sixth in the MWC. He also ranks second for BYU and is sixth in the league with 6.3 rebounds per game while adding 1.41 blocks per game, seventh in the conference. Plaisted has scored in double figures in 21 games, helping the Cougars go 17-4 in those contests, while scoring at least 20 points in six outings. He has also reached double-digits on the boards in three games, posting three double-doubles on the year. He has led BYU in rebounds 12 times, scoring seven 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.

COUGAR NOTABLES

GOOD WINS

* 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

GOOD LOSSES

* 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)

NOTES

*Won outright Mountain West regular-season title with 13-3 mark

*Is 20-3 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

AttachmentSize
GAME-33---No.-23-BYU-Plays-in-MWC-Championship-Saturday.pdf701.98 KB