Game 6 - BYU Plays at USC Saturday

Senior Jared Jensen and the Cougars travel to Los Angeles to Face USC Saturday evening.

BYU (1-4) continues its stretch of five road games in its first six contests with a trip to Los Angeles to play USC (Fox Sports Net 2) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PST. (8:30 p.m. MST). The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 or online at KSL.com. USC (1-2) returns home after suffering losses at No. 11 North Carolina (97-65) and La Salle (71-62). The Trojans opened the year with a home victory over UC Irvine (90-70). BYU opened the year at the Maui Invitational with losses to No. 11 North Carolina and Stanford (listed 26th) and a win over Chaminade before suffering a three-point loss to California at home Saturday and a 71-57 setback at Utah State Wednesday.

UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS

BYU returns to Utah to play Boise State Wednesday in the Marriott Center before a Dec. 11 contest against its fourth Pac-10 opponent in Washington State at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

BYU GAME #6 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (1-4) at USC TROJANS (1-2)

SATURDAY, DEC. 4, 2004

LOS ANGELES SPORTS ARENA (16,161)

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.

7:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. MST)

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (130-91 entering eighth year; same overall)

USC, Henry Bibby (130-111 in ninth season; same overall)

Series:

USC leads, 4-3 (Last meeting: BYU 85, USC 61, last year in Provo - Dec. 13, 2003)

TV:

Fox Sports Net 2

Radio:

KSL 1160, BYU Sports Network (Greg Wrubell calls play-by-play with Mark Durrant adding commentary)

Web:

Live stats and live audio are available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2004-05 schedule)

COUGAR QUICK HITS

- BYU's game at USC is the fifth game away from home in the first six contests for Steve Cleveland's young squad that meshes 10 players who did not suit up for BYU last year with six lettermen who did.

- Among the 11 players who have seen the most time for BYU this season, six are sophomores, two are freshman and three are seniors. Another sophomore, Jimmy Balderson, came out of his planned redshirt season to play 11 minutes, scoring 6 points, at Utah State Wednesday.

- Senior Mike Hall's play has been noticably better as his injured ankle has improved. After missing a full week of practice, he played in four games last week on the ankle. After poor shooting nights and less mobility the first two games, he has scored 14, a career-high 23 and 19 points in the last three outings.

- Senior Jared Jensen has enjoyed his increased opportunities this year. After earning MWC Co-Freshman of the Year honors in 2002, he moved from center to power forward during All-American center Rafael Araujo's two years in Provo. Now with an improved jumper, Jensen has returned to the low post and is averaging 11.0 points while shooting 57.1 percent from the floor and 78.9 percent from the line.

- Among BYU's newcomers, sophomore forward Keena Young has been the most effective to date. He is pulling down a team-leading 7.0 rebounds per game and is third in the team in scoring at 7.8 points per game. He has earned starts in the last three games.

LOOKING AT USC

USC is off to a 1-2 start, including a 1-0 record at home. The Trojans enjoyed a blowout win at home over UCI (90-70) to open the season before losing to No. 11 North Carolina (65-97) and La Salle (62-71) on the road. The Trojans return four starters and seven lettermen from last year's 13-15 team, including six seniors. While it is without the services of All-PAC 10 guard Desmond Farmer, USC returns 6-foot-11 senior Rory O'Neil, who leads the team averaging 12.0 ppg and 7.3 rpg so far this season, as well as last season's PAC-10 Newcomer of the Year Jeff McMillan, a 6-foot-8 260-pound forward who led the PAC-10 in field goal percentage last season (.630) and averages 8.7 ppg and 2.3 rpg through three games this year. Two sets of identical twins, Derrick and Errick Craven and Rodrick and Lodrick Stweart, also return this year for the Trojans. Errick Craven is currently contributes 8.0 ppg and Lodrick Stewart, who was named to the PAC-10 All-Freshman First Team last year, adds 6.3 ppg. Freshman guard Gabriel Pruitt is already making strong contributions in his first three games, posting 10.7 ppg, which is second on the team. As a team the Trojans are scoring 72 points per game on 40 percent shooting while allowing their opponents to score 79 points per game and make 48 percent from the floor. USC is shooting 34 percent from behind the arc, led by Pruitt who is 5-for-11 (.455), while holding opponents to just 27.5 percent three-point shooting. Head coach Henry Bibby owns a 130-111 record in his ninth season in Los Angeles.

TROJANS AT HOME THIS YEAR

The Trojan's win this season came against UC Irvine at home in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Errick Craven and Gabriel Pruitt each contributed 13 points in the 90-70 victory on Nov. 22 while Jeff McMillan and Dwayne Shackleford added 12 apiece, Lodrick Stewart scored 11 and Derrick Craven posted 10 points. McMillan also notched a game-high 12 rebounds to record the 11th double-double of his career. USC shot 48 percent from the floor and 54 percent from behind the arc.

USC'S PROBABLE STARTERS

POS. # NAME HT. WT. YR. PPG RPG

F 5 Jeff McMillan 6-8 260 Sr. 8.7 6.3

F 21 Rory O'Neil 6-11 240 Sr. 12.0 7.3

G/F 1 Nick Young 6-6 195 Fr. 4.7 3.0

G 3 Lodrick Stewart 6-4 210 So. 6.3 1.3

G 24 Derrick Craven 6-2 215 Sr. 6.3 3.7

SERIES NOTES

This will be just the eighth meeting between the two teams. The series dates back to 1933 but three of the eight matchups have come in the last four years. USC owns a 4-3 series advantage, including a 2-1 mark at home, although the squads have not met in Los Angeles since 1970. Under BYU head coach Steve Cleveland, the Cougars are 1-1 against the Trojans, including an 85-61 victory last season in Provo that marked BYU's largest margin of victory in the series. Mike Rose scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, which included a 3-of-3 mark from three-point range, and Mike Hall added nine points as Rafael Araujo led all scorers with 28.

BYU SERIES RECORD VS. ...

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Overall Series Record: So. California leads 4-3

BYU Record in Provo: 2-2

BYU Record at Southern California: 1-2

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: N/A

BYU Record Under Steve Cleveland: 1-1

BYU Record in Overtime Games: N/A

Longest BYU Win Streak: 2 (1963-68)

Longest USC Win Streak: 2 (1933-59 and 1970-00)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 24, 85-61 in 2003

Largest USC Margin of Victory: 36, 101-65 in 1970

Most Points Scored by BYU: 95 in 1968

Most Points Scored by So. California: 101 in 1970

Date Opponent Score W/L

12-22-33 vs. So. California 33-36 L

12-12-59 at So. California 61-79 L

12-07-63 at So. California 74-67 W

11-30-68 So. California 95-86 W

12-11-70 at So. California 65-101 L

12-23-00 vs. So. California 67-70 L

12-13-03 So. California 85-61 W

LAST YEAR'S OUTING -- ARAUJO DOMINATES AGAIN AS COUGARS DOWN USC 85-61

PROVO, Utah -- Senior Rafael Araujo led BYU to an 85-61 win over the University of Southern California of the Pac-10 Conference Saturday night at the Marriott Center. "It's tough to play here. We played against a tournament team tonight," USC head coach Henry Bibby said. "We haven't seen a player like Araujo. He draws so much attention and scores in so many ways. He can shoot the three, post up and is a good passer. There is no answer for him. He's an unbelievable player. You can't stop him one-on-one. He's too big, too smart and will take BYU a long way with Bigelow and other good players." Araujo, coming off Sporting News National Player of the Week honors, posted his fifth straight double-double of the season. The big man dominated the game and led BYU with 28 points (10-for-15) and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. The NBA prospect showed his inside-outside abilities by shooting 2-for-5 from the 3-point line. "It was a solid effort and a good win," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "I was pleased with our effort and energy. We really defended them well and had very few breakdowns." After suffering from a shooting slump to begin the season, senior Mark Bigelow has broken out in the last two games. He recorded a season-high 17 points against USC on 6-for-10 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc. In the last two games, Bigelow has combined to shoot 57.8 percent from the field and 55.5 percent from behind the arc. Bigelow's season-high points moves him to No. 11 on BYU's career scoring list (1,399) to surpass current assistant coach Andy Toolson's 1,388 points (from 1985, 88-90). Fellow teammates Kevin Woodberry and Mike Rose added intensity and each contributed 11 points. Woodberry dished out four assists, went 2-of-2 from the free throw line and 3-of-4 from the floor, all from behind the 3-point arc. In nine minutes of play, Rose was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from 3-point land. Senior point guard Luiz Lemes had another strong outing. Called the team's unsung leader by his coach, Lemes grabbed a career-best eight rebounds and continued to find ways to get the ball inside to Araujo, dishing out eight assists on the night. BYU finished with 21 assists against the Trojans. Lemes is averaging just over five assists per game to lead the team. The Cougar defense held the Trojans to 25 percent shooting from the 3-point line and forced 19 turnovers. The BYU defense also held USC's leading scorer Desmon Farmer, who came in averaging 17.4 points per game, to only eight points. Thanks in part to some missed USC free throws, BYU broke the game open with a 19-1 run in the first half, including a 12-0 run that lifted the Cougars from a tie score to a 34-22 advantage with 4:54 to go in the half. Woodberry's third 3-pointer in the final minute before the half brought the 15,688 Cougar fans to their feet, helping BYU maintain a 14-point lead at the break. The Cougars carried on their intensity throughout the second half to get the win over the back-to-back PAC-10 Tournament finalists. BYU's win improves the team to 6-1 on the season and 3-0 at home, while USC drops to 3-3.

COUGARS vs. THE PAC-10

USC is the third PAC-10 opponent BYU has faced in its first six games this season and one of four PAC-10 opponents the Cougars will face overall, with a Dec. 11 matchup against Washington State coming up at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. BYU last played four Pac-10 teams in the same season in 1998-99, Cleveland's second season after taking over a 1-25 program. That your BYU suffered losses to Arizona in overtime and had one-point setbacks against Washington State and California while being blown out against Oregon. With losses to both Stanford (62-53) and Cal (67-64) this season, BYU is 88-100 against the PAC-10 overall. BYU is 5-14 against the Pac-10 under Steve Cleveland, including a 4-1 mark the past three seasons. Cleveland's team's have split the last 10 games against Pac-10 competition.

BYU's LAST OUTING - Ainge Shines but Cougars Lose at Utah State

LOGAN -- Despite an strong first-half performance and a career-night from guard Austin Ainge, BYU could not keep up with Utah State as the Cougars fell 71-57 to the Aggies Wednesday night in front of 9,620 screaming fans in Logan. "Coming into a difficult place, we played pretty well for 20 minutes," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "We competed and made baskets, which we've had a hard time making lately. We had trouble against the zone and our post guys needed to get the ball more, but that's something we can work on and get better at. We're committed to making it happen." The Cougars fell behind early, 14-7, and looked to be headed in the direction of last season's 26-point half-time deficit. But senior Mike Hall came alive at the 12-minute mark, scoring seven of BYU's next 10 points to bring the Cougars to within one point, when an Ainge three-pointer gave BYU its first lead of the game at 20-18. Ainge would surpass his career-high point total just 13 minutes into the game. Both teams battled down the court for the remainder of the half, keeping the game tight. With the Aggies holding a slim 36-32 lead with just over a minute to play, Keena Young prevented a sure Utah State basket with a hard foul, sending Spencer Nelson to the line. Nelson missed both free throws and the Cougars were able to convert twice more down the floor and get a stop to tie the game at 36 heading into the locker room. After shooting 50 percent in the first half, including 6-9 from beyond the arc, the Cougars were suddenly cold from all over the court as they went 2-of-14 on three-pointers and shot just 3-of-6 from the line in the second half, ending up with a 32 percent shooting mark in the second period. A seven-minute BYU drought allowed the Aggies to run up a six-point lead at 51-45, which they would eventually push to thirteen points by virtue of a 17-3 run. BYU also quickly found itself in foul trouble as Jared Jensen and Keena Young were each saddled with four while Garner Meads picked up his third foul to put Utah State in the bonus with 11 minutes still to play. The Cougars scored only 21 points in the second half, including just 12 in the final 16 minutes of play. Hall and Ainge combined for 26 points in the first half, but could not find the basket in the final 20 minutes, coming up with just eight combined points in the second half as Hall scored 19 total points and Ainge recorded a career-high 15. Jensen posted eight points for the Cougars and Jimmy Balderson, coming out of his redshirt year and seeing his first action of the season, scored six. "I've been playing well and feeling good lately," said Ainge. "I've just tried to play hard in practice and wait for my chance." BYU finished the game shooting 42 percent, their second-highest total of the season, to the Aggies' 46 percent. The Cougars had made 26-of-29 free throws in their last two games, but managed just 5-of-8 shooting from the line on the evening while Utah State went 18-for-23, including 15-of-18 in the second half. The loss marks the third straight defeat the Cougars have suffered in Logan as Aggie head coach Stew Morrill has piled up an 86-8 record at home in just over six years. BYU falls to 1-4 on the season with the loss and now prepares to travel to Los Angeles where the Cougars will take on the 1-2 USC Trojans at 7:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. MST) in a Fox Sports Net 2 telecast. BYU posted an 85-61 victory last season over Henry Bibby's team in Provo.

YOUNG TEAM FACING STRONG SCHEDULE

BYU's schedule includes 10 teams that finished in the top three in their respective league standings, with eight finishing as either the league champion or runner-up. Seven teams played in the NCAA Tournament and five were invited to the NIT, while eight opponents achieved 20-win seasons last year. North Carolina, North Carolina State and Stanford all finished the season in the final top-25 rankings. The Cougars will play two teams from the ACC in the same season for the first time in nearly 50 years and they also play four teams from the Pac-10 for the first time since 1998-99. The last time BYU had a schedule with two ACC teams was the 1955-56 season when the Cougars played at both NC State and Wake Forest. The four teams BYU has lost to this year have a combined 14-7 record thus far, with the four losses coming against North Carolina (5-1), Utah State (4-1), California (3-2) and Stanford (2-3). BYU defeated Chaminade (3-3), who has won two straight games since its Maui Invitational loss to BYU, including a win over Division I Coast Carolina.

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