Senior Sam Burgess has started all 33 games for the Cougars this season. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYU GAME #34 FAST FACTS
NO. 23/24 BYU COUGARS -- #1 SEED (27-6, 14-2 MWC)
UNLV REBELS -- #2 SEED (25-7, 12-4 MWC)
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Thomas & Mack Center (18,500)
4 p.m. PT (5 p.m. MT)
VERSUS (Tim Neverett, play-by-play; Tim McCormick, game analyst)
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 analyst)
Live audio and live stats links are available on the basketball schedule page at www.byucougars.com
NO. 23/24 BYU FACES UNLV IN MWC CHAMPIONSHIP
No. 23/24 BYU (27-6, 14-2 MWC) will play in the 2008 Phillips 66 Mountain West Conference Championship game on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT (5 p.m. MT) against second-seeded UNLV (25-7, 12-4 MWC) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. BYU has won 15 of its last 16 games, including a 63-54 win over fourth-seeded San Diego State in the MWC Tournament semifinals on Friday. This will be the fourth MWC championship game appearance for the Cougars and the second straight. Saturday's game will be televised on VERSUS. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM /1160 AM out of Salt Lake City and on the Internet at KSL.com beginning with the pregame show at 3 p.m. PT (4 p.m. MT).
COUGAR QUICK HITS
-- At 27-6, No. 23/24 BYU has achieved the best 33-game record in the 105-year history of the program. The Cougars have a chance to tie the program record of 28 overall wins achieved by the 1950-51 team that went 28-9.
-- BYU became the first MWC team to win two outright league titles with a 14-2 record in conference play. The Cougars also won the MWC crown outright last season.
-- BYU won its second straight league title with a one-game improvement over last year's 13-3 record, setting a league record with 14 conference victories. The Cougars also improved their margin from last season to this year, winning the title by two games over UNLV this year after just a one-game margin last season.
-- With a 25-6 overall regular-season record, the Cougars set a program record for regular-season victories.
-- BYU was 6-2 on the road in conference play, winning four straight between losses at UNLV and San Diego State. Overall, BYU is 8-4 in away games this season and 3-2 on a neutral floor. BYU's road victory marks in overall and league play tie MWC records.
-- Two-time MWC?Coach of the Year Dave Rose helped make BYU the second-most improved program in the nation in his first season with a 20-9 record and guided the Cougars to the outright MWC?title and a top-25 ranking in his second campaign in Provo as the Cougars went 25-9 last season. The Cougars have also been nationally ranked in back-to-back seasons.
-- Junior Lee Cummard became BYU's fourth MWC Player of the Year in the nine-year history of the league as he earned Co-Player of the Year honors this season along with New Mexico's J.R. Giddens. Cummard and junior Trent Plaisted were named to the All-MWC First Team while sophomore Jonathan Tavernari earned third-team honors.
LOOKING AT UNLV
UNLV returns eight lettermen and one starter from last year's 30-7 NCAA Sweet 16 team that finished second at 12-4 to BYU in the Mountain West Conference before winning the MWC Tournament with a victory over the Cougars in the title game at the Thomas & Mack Center. This year the Rebels are 25-7 overall after finishing league play 12-4 and earning the second seed in the 2008 MWC Tournament. The Rebels advanced to the title game with an 89-88 win over seventh-seeded TCU in the quarterfinals and a 61-55 victory over sixth-seeded Utah in the semifinals on Friday. UNLV is 18-2 at home this season, 6-5 on the road and 1-0 on a neutral floor. The Rebels' two home defeats have both been against nationally ranked teams with losses to Louisville (68-48) on Nov. 21 and Arizona (52-49) on Dec. 19. Wink Adams is the Rebels' top scorer at 16.4 points per game, followed by Joe Darger at 11.2 ppg and Curtis Terry at 10.9 ppg. Darger is second for UNLV on the glass with 4.6 rebounds per game while Rene Rougeau pulls down 5.9 boards per contest. Terry dishes out a team-leading 4.9 assists per outing. The Rebels average 69.9 points while giving up 62.1 points per game but are being beaten on the boards by 2.0 rebounds per game (36.7 to 34.7). UNLV makes 42.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent on threes and 74.4 percent at the line. Adams is the second-best free-throw shooter in the MWC at 84.3 percent (129-for-153). UNLV has held its opponents to .406 shooting from the field, including .305 from three-point range. The Rebels pace the league in turnover margin, gaining 4.25 more possessions on average than they surrender. UNLV also leads the MWC in assist/turnover ratio at 1.41.
UNLV'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG Hometown
F 15 Corey Bailey 6-5 215 Sr. 6.8 3.8 Tampa, Fla.
F 45 Joe Darger 6-7 225 Jr. 11.2 4.6 Riverton, Utah
G/F 31 Curtis Terry 6-5 205 Sr. 10.9 3.3 University Place, Wash.
G 24 Rene Rougeau 6-6 205 Jr. 9.1 5.9 Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
G 1 Wink Adams 6-0 200 Jr. 16.4 4.0 Houston, Texas
UNLV'S LAST OUTING -- UNLV EARNS RETURN TRIP TO THE TITLE GAME
LAS VEGAS (AP)--Wink Adams and Curtis Terry each scored 20 points, leading UNLV back into the Mountain West Conference championship with a 61-55 win over Utah in the semifinals Friday night. The second-seeded Runnin' Rebels (25-7) will face top-seeded and 24th-ranked BYU (27-6), the team they beat for the title a year ago, also at the rockin' Thomas & Mack Center. While Adams and Terry were providing the muscle, guard Rene Rougeau supplied the muscle, darting in to grab rebound after rebound over 7-foot center Luke Nevill, who was limited to 15 points and five boards. Rougeau had his third double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He had a couple of key put-backs and two critical offensive boards that led to a big basket on a finger-roll by Terry. Terry's bucket made it 53-49 with just over a minute to go and it came with the exhausted Utes all standing around, making it look like a pregame layup drill. After that, the Rebels, 74 percent free throw shooters, sank eight-of-10 from the stripe, including 5-of-6 from Adams, to hold off Utah (17-14). Terry's NBA-long 3-pointer gave the Runnin' Rebels a 25-24 halftime lead after they had trailed by eight points midway through the half, and he hit another big 3 to put the Rebels ahead 42-41 with 9:19 left, and the Utes never saw the lead again. Johnnie Bryant and Lawrence Borha each scored 10 points for the Utes, but the usually reliable shooter Shaun Green was held to two points on 1-of-7 shooting. His only bucket was a putback that made it 58-55.
This will be the 27th meeting in the series between the two schools that dates back to 1981. The series is currently tied, 13-13, after a 70-41 UNLV win in Las Vegas and a 74-48 BYU win in Provo earlier this season. Last season, BYU won 90-63 in Provo after an 83-75 UNLV win in Las Vegas and then fell 70-78 at UNLV in the MWC Tournament Championship game. The two teams split the season sereis in 2005-06 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 10 times over the last five 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. BYU is 9-3 in Provo against UNLV and 4-10 in Las Vegas against the Rebels. BYU has won 11 of the 20 games as MWC opponents. In addition to last year's MWC Tournament matchup. the two teams also met in the 2000 Championship game with BYU losing 76-59 on the Rebels' home floor at the Thomas &?Mack Center.
THIS YEAR AT BYU -- REBELS ROLL AT THOMAS & MACK
LAS -- On a night that the Cougars were held to their lowest point total of the season, BYU dropped its first Mountain West Conference game of the year at UNLV, 70-41. The Cougars (12-5, 1-1 MWC) fell for the fourth straight time against the Rebels (13-4, 2-1 MWC) at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Cougars came into their first MWC road game averaging 79.5 points per game, but they left with connecting on just 33 percent of their shots for only 41 points. BYU also shot a season low from the free-throw line, connecting on 8-of-20 (.400) attempts. BYU was led by junior guard Lee Cummard as he finished as the only Cougar in double-digit scoring with 11. Chris Miles and Chris Collinsworth came off the bench to give a boost to the Cougars. Miles finished second in scoring with a season-high nine points, and Collinsworth pulled down a career- and game-high 11 rebounds. UNLV got out to a hot start as the Rebels started the game with a 9-3 run over the first 4:20 of the contest. The Rebels eventually built the lead to 11 points at the 12:17 mark with a 16-5 advantage. UNLV senior Curtis Terry got going early for the Rebels as he hit on his first three attempts from beyond the arc. The Rebels continued to connect from beyond the arc, connecting on 7-of-12 three-pointers in the first half. Terry went on to lead the Rebels in first-half scoring as he finished with 14 before the break. UNLV went into the locker room up 39-21, holding BYU to its lowest first-half total of the season. The Cougars' previous low in scoring was 31 against No. 1 North Carolina. BYU's first-half difficulties came in part due to 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The second half proved to be much of the same for the Cougars as their offensive woes continued. BYU never got within 13 points of the Rebels and was only able to notch 20 more points in the game. Another offensive category that BYU struggled in was its three-point shooting. Coming into the game against the Rebels, the Cougars were averaging 37 percent from beyond the arc but were only able to hit on 3-of-21 (.143) attempts. Both teams went through long second-half scoring droughts. BYU stiffened its defense as the Cougars held UNLV without a field goal for more than six minutes. However, the Cougars were unable to capitalize on the Rebels' lack of scoring as BYU did not connect on a shot of its own from the field from the 12:15 mark to the 4:30 point of the second half. UNLV was led by Terry, who finished the game with 21 points. Rene Rougeau also chipped in 15 points for the Rebels along with seven rebounds. Matt Shaw paced the Rebels on the boards with eight.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "I thought we came in with a good game plan, but we just got outplayed. We got outplayed on the offensive end of the floor, and we got outplayed on the defensive end of the floor. We didn't have any consistent offensive play in the post, and we didn't hit shots. UNLV dominated this game."
-- "Obviously it's hard to win when you can't consistently score. I thought our zone worked and we got some stops, but we weren't able to capitalize because we couldn't score."
-- "Turnovers really can hurt you, but the type of turnovers we had tonight really can kill you. You just can't defend them (when you turn the ball over in that way)."
-- "We have a lot of players that it's their first time out there in a conference game on the road. It's a different game and a different environment. We just got outplayed."
-- "I thought between Chris Miles and Chris Collinsworth we got some good minutes off the bench in the post. We just need to get more consistency."
-- "The one thing about your team as you go through a season is you find out about the character of a team as you go through these kinds of experiences. We knew this would be a tough stretch on our schedule. I really believe that we have very competitive guys, and we will bounce back from this. We just need to get it behind us and get on with (the next game). We've got another big challenge ahead of ourselves on Saturday."
BYU NOTES FROM THIS YEAR AT UNLV
-- Jonathan Tavernari returned to the starting lineup for his 11th start of the year, joining Ben Murdock, Sam Burgess, Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted in the starting five. The latter four have started every game this season.
-- Individual Career Highs: Chris Collinsworth -- 11 rebounds.
-- Individual Season Highs: Chris Miles -- 9 points.
-- BYU's only leads in the game came at 3-0 and 3-2. BYU's 41 points is the fewest scored by a Cougar team since losing 70-39 at Air Force on Feb. 21, 2005. The 29-point margin of defeat is the largest for the Cougars since a 27-point deficit at San Diego State on Jan. 21, 2006 (88-61).
-- BYU suffered season lows in all shooting categories, making just 33.3 percent from the floor, 14.3 percent from behind the arc and 40 percent at the free-throw line. BYU's three treys is the fewest made in a game since converting twice vs. Colorado State last season (Feb. 21, 2007).
-- UNLV's 39-21 halftime lead marks only the third time BYU has trailed at the break this year. The Cougars failed to score 30 points in the first half for the first time this year. BYU's 21 first-half points and 20 points in the second half are the team's lowest outputs of the season.
-- Lee Cummard was the lone Cougar to score in double figures with 11 points, marking the first time this year only one Cougar reached double digits.
-- Cummard was one of three Cougars to make a three-pointer, extending his streak of consecutive games with a trey to 11. Jimmer Fredette and Tavernari also made a three against the Rebels. Tavernari and Cummard have converted from behind the arc in 16 of 17 games this season.
-- Cummard was a perfect 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, improving his season total to 37-of-41 (.902) after making his last 14 straight. Cummard has been perfect from the line in eight of the 11 games in which he has taken free throws.
-- True freshman Collinsworth posted a game- and career-high 11 rebounds, just the second time this season he has posted double-digit boards. Collinsworth is averaging 6.4 rebounds per game in the last five contests.
-- Miles posted a season-high 9 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field in 17 minutes, starting the second half. Miles is averaging 7.6 minutes per game on the year and 16.7 mpg in the last three contests.
-- Tavernari added to his team-high steal total with two picks at UNLV, recording 22 on the season. Tavernari has had at least two steals in eight of 17 games this year.
THIS YEAR AT BYU -- MARRIOTT CENTER MAGIC CONTINUES
PROVO -- In front of the largest home crowd of the season, BYU recorded another home victory as the Cougars beat UNLV 74-48 on the back of BYU's fantastic juniors -- Trent Plaisted and Lee Cummard. Plaisted scored a game-high 22 points, while Cummard was not far behind with 18 points of his own. BYU improved to 20-5 on the season, which is the Cougars' third consecutive 20-win season. BYU also tied the program record with its 44th straight home win. The Cougars have not lost in the Marriott Center since Nov. 18, 2005. The Cougars also improved to 9-1 in Mountain West Conference action as they avenged their only conference loss of the season that came at the hands of the Rebels in Las Vegas. BYU's Plaisted scored the first points of the game on a lay up then made the following free throw to complete the three-point play and help his team jump out on top. The Cougars kept moving the ball well and created an early 7-2 lead with 15:52 on the clock as Lee Cummard hit a shot from beyond the arc. The Cougars helped themselves to this lead as they only allowed the Rebels to hit on one of their first seven attempts from the field. UNLV pulled to within one over the next minute to pull the score to 7-6. Over the next three and half minutes BYU went on another run of 7-4 as the Cougars went up 14-10 with 11:29 left in the first half. BYU continued to build upon its lead as Plaisted had a dunk at the 8:48 mark that ignited the crowd and helped jump start the Cougars to a 9-0 run over the next 2:02. This run included Jonathan Tavernari's first made three-pointer of the game at the 7:10 mark to give the Cougars their first double-digit lead of the game. The Cougars' defense proved to be too much as they intercepted six first-half steals, made four blocks and forced nine turnovers. BYU converted 16 points off of the UNLV offensive mishaps. Another highlight of the first half for BYU came at the 1:40 mark as Tavernari was near the low block with his back to the basket and his defender on him tight. He hit a cutting Cummard with a no-look pass for the easy lay up. The Cummard basket put BYU up 35-21. The Cougars went into the locker room on the back of Cummard, who finished the half hitting a free throw to complete a three-point play with half a second left to send BYU into the break up 39-23. The Cougars saw even first-half scoring throughout their roster as they had six players with five or more points. BYU kept the pressure up on both ends of the court early in the second half, and a key play came at the 15:25 mark as Jimmer Fredette hit a cutting Plaisted for an alley-oop dunk to put the Cougars up 45-27. Over the next 8:24 the Cougars extended their lead to 60-38. Shortly after that, BYU began to apply shutdown defense as the Cougars held the Rebels off the scoreboard from the 9:21 mark until 4:42 left in the game -- a span of 4:39. The Cougars cruised to a victory from there with a 74-48 win in a game that BYU lead from wire-to-wire. The 48 points that BYU held UNLV to ties the Rebels' season low in scoring this season. BYU also saw a big boost from Tavernari, who contributed in many ways for the Cougars as he had seven rebounds, six points, four assists and two blocks. Fredette also came in to contribute with 24 minutes for the Cougars and finished the game with nine points and four assists.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "I was really pleased with our effort defensively. We did a good job challenging shots and staying with our assignments. Strong defense and rebounding were two keys to this game."
-- "The atmosphere tonight was terrific. It's as good as it gets. We had a good crowd and a good student section, and that provided a lift for us offensively."
UNLV Head Coach Lon Kruger
-- "BYU won every ball both offensively and defensively tonight. They did what they wanted to do, and we didn't take anything away from them."
-- "Their defense was very good tonight. At home they're a little more energized, and it's tough to play here."
BYU NOTES FROM THIS YEAR AT BYU
-- Individual Season Highs: Trent Plaisted -- 4 dunks.
-- Team Season Highs/Lows: Attendance - 22,580.
-- With the 74-48 win, BYU improved its Marriott Center win streak to 44 games, tying the program record, which was set from Feb. 19, 2000 to Jan. 16, 2003. The Cougars have won 23 straight nonconference games and 21 games against MWC opponents dating back to an 83-71 setback against Loyola Marymount on Nov. 18, 2005. That game was also Dave Rose's head-coaching debut, meaning Rose has gone 44-1 in the Marriott Center as a head coach. BYU's current streak of 44 straight home wins is the second-longest active home court victory streak in the nation behind No. 1 Memphis. The BYU football team has won 12 straight home games with its last home loss coming on Nov. 19, 2005, the day after BYU's last home basketball defeat.
-- With the victory, BYU improved to 20-5 overall on the year, the program's 31st 20-win season, including three straight in the last three years. Cougar head coach Dave Rose is the third BYU head coach to win at least 20 games in each of his first three seasons at the helm (G. Ott Romney and Roger Reid), but is the first to do so after taking over a program with less than 13 wins the prior year (BYU was 9-21 in 2004-05).
-- At 9-1 in Mountain West Conference play, the Cougars are off to their best league start since going 14-1 in 1993 when BYU still played in the Western Athletic Conference.
-- The Cougars' eight straight wins (@ Utah, San Diego State, New Mexico, @ Air Force, @ Wyoming, TCU, @ CSU, UNLV) marks their longest win streak of the season and ties the longest win streak of the Dave Rose era (BYU also won eight straight in league play last season). BYU has won at least six straight MWC games in each of Rose's three seasons at the helm.
-- Despite entering the game eighth in the MWC with 5.8 steals per game, BYU posted 10 takeaways against UNLV. The Cougars forced the Rebels, who entered the contest leading the league with 10.7 turnovers per game, into 15 miscues.
-- The 48 points scored by UNLV ties the Rebels' season-low scoring output (48 against Louisville).
-- With a game-high lead of 29 points, the Cougars have now held a double-digit lead in 20 of 25 games this year, including a lead of 20 or more points in 13 contests. BYU has also led wire-to-wire in 12 games.
-- With a 39-23 advantage after the first 20 minutes of play, BYU recorded its 21st halftime lead of the season and 13th by double-digits. The Cougars are now 19-2 when leading at the break. BYU has scored at least 30 points in the first half of 21 games while holding opponents under 30 points in the first half of 16 contests.
-- BYU has had at least one player top the 20-point mark in each of the last six games and has had two players score at least 20 points in the same game in three of the last five contests. Plaisted scored 22 against UNLV.
-- Tavernari has contributed more than just points for the Cougars as of late. Tavernari recorded 18 assists in the first 20 games of the season (0.9 apg) but has dished out 16 assists in the last five contests (3.2 apg), including four against UNLV.
-- The Cougars held UNLV to just two points in the first 4:46 of the game as the Rebels made just one of their first seven shots while BYU jumped out to a 7-2 lead.
- After UNLV came back to cut the deficit to two points at 15-13, BYU responded with an 11-0 run. Jimmer Fredette got things started with a steal and a fastbreak layin followed by a dunk from Plaisted. Burgess, Tavernari and Cummard also scored during the spurt.
LAST YEAR IN MWC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME -- COUGARS FALL TO UNLV IN TITLE GAME
LAS -- The No. 23 BYU men's basketball team played a hard-fought game against UNLV, but ran out of energy in the closing minutes to fall in the Mountain West Conference Championship game, 78-70. The Cougars fall to 25-8 while the Rebels improve to 28-6 on the season. The Cougars were
led by MWC Player of the Year Keena Young, who had a career-high 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting and nine rebounds. His scoring output was the most scored by a Cougar since Mekeli Wesley posted 34 on Jan. 20, 2000. All-MWC forward Lee Cummard recorded a double-double with 13 points and a career-high 13 boards for BYU. The game began with the Cougars striking first as Austin Ainge found Young on a full-court pass for a layup at the 18:38 mark. BYU then scored on the next three possessions to take an early 8-0 lead and force the Rebels to take a timeout with 16:44 remaining in the first half. UNLV finally got on the board hitting a desperation three as the shot clock expired, but BYU quickly answered with back-to-back three-pointers by Mike Rose and Cummard to extend the lead 16-3 with 13:43 left. The Rebels started to make a run, but before it went anywhere Rose connected on another deep three at the top of the key. Cummard then came up with another one of his trademark hustle plays by rebounding his own shot and laying it in for the bucket. On the next possession Young went to work on the Rebels hitting a fade-away jumper to extend the lead 24- 10. UNLV then tightened up its defense and went on a 14-4 run to cut its deficit to four and force BYU to take a timeout with 2:52 left. Right out of the timeout the Cougars wasted no time getting the ball to Young for a quick score. The Rebels answered back with a quick bucket of their own to stay close to BYU at 30-26. The Cougars then closed out the half going on a 7-0 run with Young hitting a jumper, Plaisted throwing down a two-handed dunk and Rose blasting another three to go into the intermission up 37-26. Young led BYU in the first half with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and six boards. The second half started with Cummard getting a layup for BYU, but a couple possessions later UNLV answered with a rare four-point play to cut its deficit to five with 16:49 left. Ainge then came off a Plaisted pick and hit a three-pointer to silence the Rebel fans at the Thomas & Mack Center and extend the lead to 44-36. BYU then got six straight points from Young but after that stretch the Rebels nailed a three-pointer and made key shots to cut the Cougar lead to 50-48 at the second media timeout with 11:57 left. UNLV came out of the timeout with a three-pointer to take its first lead of the game 51-50. The one-point deficit marked the first time BYU had trailed at the MWC Tournament. For the next few minutes the two teams traded buckets back and forth with neither team running away with the lead. UNLV then took a two-point advantage at the 6:13 mark but Young answered right back tying the game at 57. The Rebels then scored four straight points forcing BYU to take a full timeout with 4:27 left. Young then traded baskets with UNLV for the next four possessions scoring eight points of his own to the Rebels' six to keep the Cougars within four. Being down 72-68 with 42 seconds left BYU was forced to foul. The Cougars were unable to create any sort of comeback down the stretch and ended up falling to the Rebels 78-70.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "I thought it was a very hard-fought contest. I thought both teams played really well. I'm very proud of our
team. I thought we battled and gave a great effort. It was a game that came down right to the end. I couldn't
be more proud of a group of players because they battled to the very end."
-- "I thought our guys executed it well. We shot 50 percent from the field and got good shots. Keena Young
was doing what he normally does for us. It just came down to a couple plays late."
-- "I think the concentration level was good. There may have been a little fatigue playing three nights in a row,
but you battle through it. You battle through nights when you're not shooting the ball very well from the
perimeter. You try to get inside. We had plenty of chances. UNLV just made more plays than we did. I think
both teams played really well. It was a matter of tonight UNLV played better."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST YEAR AT MWC TOURNAMENT
-- Individual Career Highs: Keena Young - 34 points; Lee Cummard - 13 rebounds; Austin Ainge - 10 assists.
-- BYU MWC Tournament Records -- Keena Young's 34 points and 13 field goals made set new BYU MWC
Tournament records while his eight free-throws made are tied for second. Austin Ainge's 10 assists are a
new BYU MWC Tournament record, surpassing the mark of seven he set twice. Lee Cummard's 13 rebounds are tied for second.
--- The Cougars are now 3-3 in their games vs. ranked teams with the 78-70 loss at No. 25 UNLV, 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.
-- BYU is now 23-5 when scoring at least 70 points and 5-8 when allowing opponents to surpass the 70-point threshold.
-- With a 38-28 rebounding advantage at UNLV, BYU is now 24-2 when winning the battle of the boards.
-- BYU has now shot above .500 from the field in 11 of the last 15 games, including a .500 mark against
UNLV. The Cougars have also shot above .500 in seven of their last eight road games.
-- The Cougars have shot especially well from three-point range in their three games against UNLV this year,
going a combined 32-for-58 (.552) from long range against the Rebels, including a school record 15 threepointers made in Provo. Mike Rose has led the BYU charge from downtown as he has made 15-of-22 (.682)
from three-point range against UNLV this season, including tying the BYU record he set in 2003 with eight
three-pointers made against the Rebels in Provo.
-- BYU has led by at least 10 points in 23 of 33 games including a 14-point first-half lead against the Rebels.
BYU is 21-2 in those games with both losses coming at the hands of UNLV.
-- With a 37-26 advantage at the break, the Cougars enjoyed their 25th halftime lead of the season and
their 14th in double figures. Overall, BYU is 22-3 when leading at the break, 3-4 when trailing and 0-1 when
tied. The Cougars have held opponents under 30 points in the first half 18 times this season, including three
of the last four games.
-- Keens Young's 34 points against the Rebels and is the most points scored by a Cougar since Mekeli
Wesley scored 34 on Jan. 20, 2000 and marked his ninth 20+-point scoring outing of the season and the
10th of his career. Only 17 Cougars have ever scored more in a game. Young has topped the 20-point scoring mark five times in the last 10 games.
-- Lee Cummard posted his third double-double of the season with 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds against the Rebels.
-- BYU jumped out to a 10-0 lead on 5-for-9 shooting from the field while holding the Rebels scoreless for the first 5:46 of the game. UNLV started the contest 0-for-9.
-- Just one game after scoring 10 of BYU's first 17 points, Lee Cummard once against started off hot,
recording nine points and eight rebounds in the first 10:43 of the game before heading to the bench for a
-- UNLV's 51-50 lead after a three-point make with 11:51 left to play in the game marked the first time BYU
trailed in the MWC Tournament. The Cougars led by as many as 20 points against TCU in the quarterfinals
and 25 points against Wyoming in the semifinals while never trailing in either game. BYU also had a 14-point
lead (24-10) in the first half against the Rebels.
-- Ainge followed that bomb with back-to-back layins, one on the reverse and the second on a fastbreak opportunity, to score seven straight points for the Cougars and turn a 10-10 tie into a 17-12 BYU lead while sparking a 14-5 Cougar run.
BYU'S LAST OUTING -- CUMMARD, PLAISTED LEAD BYU TO TITLE GAME
LAS -- Led by juniors Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted, the No. 23 BYU men's basketball team (27-6, 14-2) redeemed its lone loss in the previous 15 games by defeating San Diego State (20-12, 9-7) 63-54 in the Mountain West Conference semifinals Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. With the victory, the Cougars advance to the MWC Championship game on Saturday for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in the nine-year history of the league. BYU's big two lead the way with MWC Co-Player of the Year Lee Cummard leading all scorers with 20 points and All-MWC First Team selection Trent Plaisted following with 19. Cummard also added seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore Jonathan Tavernari led all rebounders with 10 boards in addition to his nine points. The Cougars looked solid in the opening minutes of the game as they sprinted to an early 7-2 lead and forced four turnovers. However, the Aztecs returned the favor and scored 12 of the next 16 points to take a 14-11 lead, forcing five BYU turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the contest. SDSU led for just over 10 minutes in the first half before BYU was able to regain the lead with 3:11 left in the period thanks in large part to Plaisted's game-leading 12 first-half points and Cummard's seven points and four rebounds. Plaisted scored the team's final eight points in the last five minutes of the half, and Cummard scored the previous five. BYU led 26-25 at the break despite shooting 38.5 percent from the field (10-26) and only 20.0 percent from down town (2-10) while SDSU was 45.8 percent from the floor (11-24) and 25.0 percent from behind the arc (2-8). The Cougars' advantage came in part from 4-5 shooting from the free-throw line to the Aztecs 1-2 performance. Shooting woes continued for BYU in the opening minutes of the second half. The team had converted only one of its first six shots at the first media timeout when sophomore big-man Chris Miles checked into the game with the score knotted at 30-30. He made his first three shots, igniting the Cougar-friendly crowd and giving BYU a lead it would never relinquish. Cummard blocked a shot on the defensive end to keep the crowd on its feet, but SDSU was determined not to allow the blue and white to run away with the game no matter how loud the throng grew. Tavernari hit his third three-point bucket of the game with 10:55 remaining, and Cummard followed with his second triple just 40 seconds later to give BYU is first six-point lead of the game at 44-38. The Cougar lead reached double-digits with 4:16 left in the contest on Cummard's sixth basket and 16th point. He and Plaisted scored 21 of BYU's last 25 points in the closing 10:11 of the game. The Cougars went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe in the final minute of the game and 16-for-21 (76.2 percent) from the line on the night. There were a total of four ties and seven lead changes before BYU took the lead for the last time at the 15:17 mark. BYU finished the night with a 44.7 field-goal percentage and 33.3 three-point percentage. SDSU shot 41.5 percent from the floor and 17.6 percent from behind the arc. The Cougars also beat the Aztecs off the glass, pulling down 35 boards to the Aztecs 26.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "I thought it was a very competitive and physical game. We did a good job of executing our half-court offense in the second half. It was a difficult game defensively the whole way."
-- "Both Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted have so much experience. They're both juniors, but they've both started since they were freshman. Sometimes when there seems to be a little more at stake they feel a little more comfortable. What I really like about these two players and our two seniors, Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess, is that they really take ownership and they compete. I don't need to say a lot in the huddle because they're challenging each other and encouraging each other."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- Jonathan Tavernari made his 27th start of the year, joining Ben Murdock, Sam Burgess, Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted in the starting five. The latter four have started every game this season.
-- Individual Career Highs: Jonathan Tavernari - 10 rebounds (tied).
-- BYU Team Records: Best 33-game record in school history -- 27-6.
-- MWC Tournament History -- With the win, BYU is now 11-7 all-time in the Mountain West Conference Tournament, including a 4-1 record as the event's top seed and a 10-4 mark in Las Vegas. The Cougars have advanced to the finals in four of nine years, earning a 4-2 semifinal record.
-- BYU's 27-6 record this season is the best 33-game record in school history, exceeding the 1950-51 team's 26-7 mark (31 teams have played at least 33 games in program history).
-- The Cougars are now 11-6 away from the Marriott Center this season, including an 8-4 road record and a 3-2 mark on neutral floors. BYU has won eight of its last nine games away from home.
-- BYU has won six of its last seven games when held under 70 points, improving to 6-5 overall when scoring under 70.
-- The Cougars added to their school-record season three-point total with five treys against the Aztecs, bringing their season mark to 271. BYU has hit at least five treys in 31 of 33 games this year.
-- Jonathan Tavernari added to his school and MWC sophomore record for threes in a season with three against the Aztecs, bringing his total to 83. Tavernari has hit at least three treys in 13 games this season. Tavernari and Cummard have each made at least one three-pointer in 30 of 33 games.
-- With a 26-25 advantage after the first 20 minutes of play, BYU recorded its 27th halftime lead of the season. The Cougars are now 25-2 when leading at the break. The one-point lead marks the first time this year BYU has led SDSU at the break after the Cougars trailed by one point at the half in Provo (27-28) and the two teams were tied in San Diego (29-29). Neither team has scored above 30 first-half points in any of the three meetings this season.
-- With a game-high lead of 11 points against SDSU, BYU has now led by double-digits in 25 of 33 games. Until the double-digit advantage against the Aztecs in the MWC Tournament semifinals, SDSU had been one of just four teams this year to hold the Cougar lead under double figures (North Carolina, Wake Forest, Utah).
-- Cummard has now scored in double figures in 30 of 33 games this season while Plaisted has done so in 26 contests. BYU has not lost a game against a conference opponent this year when either of these two players scores in double digits.
-- With a 6-for-6 mark against the Aztecs, Cummard has now been perfect from the free-throw line in 13 of the 26 games in which he has taken free throws. Including a 4-for-4 performance against SDSU, he is now 13-for-15 (.867) in the last two minutes of games.
-- Plaisted's 19 points against the Aztecs improved his career scoring total to 1,350, surpassing Marty Haws to move to 14th all-time in BYU program history. Plaisted moved past Haws during a two-minute span in the first half in which he scored six straight points for the Cougars to turn a 23-18 SDSU lead into a 24-23 BYU advantage.
BYU IN THE TOURNAMENT
With their semifinal win over San Diego State, the Cougars have an 11-7 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 then went five years without a finals appearance until losing to host UNLV in the 2007 Championship game. BYU has won its quarterfinal game in six of the nine MWC Tournaments. BYU has a 4-2 semifinals record and 1-2 finals record in MWC Tournament play. During the five years the MWC Tournament has been played in Las Vegas (2000-03, 2007), BYU has posted a 10-4 tournament record, with three finals appearances and one title (2001 prior to this year. BYU had a 1-3 tournament record during the three years the championship was conducted in Denver (2004-06). Overall, BYU has a 23-20 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
In seven of the first eight years of the Mountain West Tournament, BYU or the team that has knocked the Cougars out of the tournament won the title, including a championship game loss last season to host UNLV. 2006 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.
EIGHT 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. UNLV became the second with victories in 2000 and 2007, both over BYU. 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 in 2005.
BYU SEEDS AT MWC TOURNAMENT
BYU has been the No. 1 seed at the MWC Tournament in each of the past two seasons after winning back-to-back outright MWC titles. The Cougars are 4-1 as the top seed including their semifinal win over San Diego State this year (finals appearance in 2007 and 2008). 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 eight years of the MWC Tournament, the teams with the No. 2 seed boasts the best mark at 13-5 while the No. 1 seed has gone 12-6. The No. 6 seeds have a combined 8-7 record while their first-round opponent No. 3 seeds have a 6-7 record. No. 4 teams have gone 8-8. Fifth-seeded teams are 4-6. The No. 7 team won for the first time in 2006 and now has a 2-8 record. The No. 8 seed has a 2-0 record in first round games and a 3-7 record overall. The No. 9 seed is 0-2 in the first round game. 2006 marked the first time the No. 7 seed has advanced past the quarterfinals and the first time neither the No. 2 nor No. 3 seed advanced to the semifinals. The Tournament title has been won by the second seed three times (BYU in 2001, New Mexico in 2005 and UNLV in 2007); the top seed twice (UNLV in 2000 and San Diego State in 2006); the third seed once (Utah in 2004); the fifth seed once (San Diego State in 2002); and the sixth seed once (Colorado State in 2004).
BYU TOURNAMENT TITLES
BYU won the MWC Tournament title in 2001 over New Mexico. 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).
AT THE THOMAS & MACK CENTER ...
UNLV and BYU are the only teams with winning MWC Tournament records at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV has reached the championship game every year it has been eligible at the Thomas and Mack. Below are the win totals and records for the nine MWC teams in the five previous tournaments held at the Thomas and Mack Center (note: UNLV was ineligible for tournament play in 2001, and TCU has only played one tournament in Las Vegas) :
UNLV: 10 wins (10-2)
BYU: 8 (8-4)
CSU: 4 (4-4)
Wyoming: 4 (4-5)
Utah: 3 (3-5)
SDSU: 3 (3-4)
UNM: 2 (2-5)
TCU: 1 (1-1)
AFA: 0 (0-5)
MWC TEAMS IN THE NCAA
In the previous eight 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 have only been MWC members for three seasons. New Mexico became the last of the other MWC teams to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the 2005 MWC Tournament. 2007 MWC Tournament Champion UNLV received the league's automatic bid last season while BYU was selected as an at-large team.
BYU AND MWC IN POSTSEASON
BYU has earned an invite to a postseason tournament in seven of the previous eight years of the MWC, leading all MWC?teams. BYU is second to Utah in NCAA appearances since the formation of the MWC (BYU has made four NCAA and three NIT while Utah has made five NCAA and one NIT). UNLV has received five invites (two NCAA, four NIT). New Mexico has received four (one NCAA, three NIT) along with San Diego State (two NCAA, two NIT) and Air Force (two NCAA and two NIT). Wyoming has three (one NCAA, two NIT) while Colorado State has been to one NCAA Tournament.
COUGAR SEASON TOP IN SCHOOL HISTORY
BYU has a 27-6 record through 33 games this year. With a win in Saturday's Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship game, the Cougars could tie the program record for wins in a season. That record is currently held by the 1950-51 team that achieved 28 victories while racking up a 28-9 overall record. BYU's current 27-6 mark is the best 33-game record in the 105-year history of the program (noting that 75 teams did not total 33 games during the season, including the 20-5 NIT Championship team in 1965-66).
At 27-6 so far this season, BYU has achieved the program's 31st 20-win season, including three straight for Cougar head coach Dave Rose in his first three seasons at the helm. Last year, the Cougars finished 25-9 following a 20-9 campaign in 2005-06. BYU has averaged 20 wins every 2.6 years (BYU has played 80 seasons in which it has played at least 20 games in a season). Rose is the third Cougar head coach to win 20 games in each of his first three years, joining G. Ott Romney and Roger Reid. However, Rose is the first Cougar head coach to win 20 games in each of his first three 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 in his first season.
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
Dave Rose has 3 seasons of 20 wins in 3 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
Floyd Millet had 1 season of 20 wins in 8 years of coaching
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 last year's team. In those 20 years, BYU has earned a postseason invite each season, including 17 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 14 of those seasons, with the lone exception being the 2005-06 team that finished the regular season 20-7 and fell to 20-8 with a loss at the MWC Tournament before receiving an NIT invitation. Including last 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 those 11 years.
COUGARS IN CONFERENCE
With their win against Wyoming, the Cougars secured their 27th regular-season league title. The outright Mountain West Conference crown is the second straight for BYU, making the Cougars the only team in league history to win two outright conference crowns, let alone back-to-back titles. Prior to their current run, the last time the Cougars won back-to-back outright league titles was in the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons. With four total MWC titles (two outright and two shared), BYU has tied Utah (one outright, three shared) for the most MWC crowns. BYU basketball boasts a remarkable record of conference success during its history. After earning its 27th regular-season conference championship in 2008, the Cougars are tied for ninth among all NCAA Division I programs for most regular-season league titles won. Including conference tournaments, BYU has claimed a conference championship trophy during 28 seasons. The Cougars won the 1991 WAC Tournament after a second-place regular-season finish. Other conference tournament titles in 1992 (WAC) and 2001 (MWC) have followed up regular-season rings, as was the case with conference playoff wins in 1924 and 1933 in the Rocky Mountain Conference. BYU won six Rocky Mountain Conference titles in 20 years, earned five Skyline championships in 24 years, recorded 12 WAC crowns in 37 years and has garned MWC honors in four of the league's first nine seasons. BYU won the in-state title against rivals Utah and Utah State during 10 of the 12 years before the Cougars first joined a conference in 1918.
COACH ROSE OWNS TOP MWC MARK
With a 39-9 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 three years. UNLV's Lon Kruger is 36-14 and SDSU's Steve Fisher is 32-16. In addition to this year's 14-2 MWC record, Rose coached the Cougars to a 13-3 league and 25-9 overall record last year, earning Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season. He was named the MWC and USBWA District VIII Coach of the Year in his first season after coaching BYU to a second-place MWC finish at 12-4 while turning a 9-21 team into a 20-9 success--which proved to be the second-best improvement among all Division I programs.
COUGARS SET RECORD FOR REGULAR-SEASON WINS
This year's BYU team set the program record for regular-season wins, becoming the first Cougar squad ever to achieve 25 victories prior to the start of postseason play. Three BYU teams reached the 24-win mark while last year's Cougars racked up 23 wins in the regular season.