Off to its best start since the 1991-92 season, BYU (5-0) travels to face Creighton (5-0) Saturday in a 2 p.m CST (1 p.m. MST) start. Both teams are coming off road wins Wednesday, with BYU defeating the Pac-10's Arizona State while Creighton won its Missouri Valley Conference opener at Northern Iowa. Saturday's game is not being televised. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 and the Cougar Sports Network, beginning at 1 p.m. CST (Noon MST) with a one-hour pregame show. KSL's Greg Wrubell will call the play-by-play action with Mark Durrant providing game analysis. A live internet audio link is available on the basketball page of the official BYU athletics website, byucougars.com.
The Cougars are coming off a 64-60 victory at Arizona State that ended the Cougars' 11-game road losing streak. BYU opened last season with a road win at San Diego but lost its final 11 road games of the year. BYU returns eight lettermen and three starters from last year's 18-12 NIT team, led by second-team All-Mountain West Conference guard Travis Hansen. The Cougars currently own the nation's longest homecourt winning streak at 37 games. BYU opened this season with three wins at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands to claim the 2002 title. BYU's current four-game winning streak away from the Marriott Center is the team's longest since winning five straight on the road in March 2001.
Creighton is ranked 26th nationally in both polls and is coming off a 65-52 win at Northern Iowa on Wednesday after defeating Notre Dame on Nov. 26 to win the Guardians Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
GAME # 6 FAST FACTS
BYU (5-0, 0-0 MWC) @ CREIGHTON (5-0, 0-0 MVC)
Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002
Omaha Civic Auditorium (9,377)
2 p.m. CST (1 p.m. MST)
BYU, Steve Cleveland (90-69 in sixth year; same overall)
Creighton, Dana Altman (151-95 in ninth year; 234-162 in 14th year overall)
BYU leads, 5-2
Last Meeting: BYU won 61-52 in Provo last year on Dec. 8, 2001
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time: 1 p.m. CST (Noon MST)
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Mark Durrant
Web: Live audio link available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2002-03 schedule)
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Mark Bigelow 6-7 195 Jr. 13.2 2.6 2.4 apg
F 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 250 So. 11.4 4.6
C 55 Rafael Araujo 6-11 265 Jr. 6.4 7.6
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Sr. 17.0 5.4 3.0 apg
G 24 Kevin Woodberry 6-0 170 Jr. 5.6 2.0 2.0 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 14 Ricky Bower 6-4 185 Jr. 5.2 2.4
F 15 John Allen 6-7 215 So. 5.0 2.4
G 10 Terry Nashif 5-10 165 Fr. 3.6 2.2 1.6 apg
C 40 Dan Howard 7-0 225 Jr. 3.0 1.2
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 Jr. 1.8 0.5
G 4 Luiz Lemes 6-3 180 Jr. 1.4 0.8
F 5 Jake Shoff 6-9 265 Jr. 1.0 2.3
Creighton (5-0) returns 10 of 12 lettermen and all five starters from last season's 23-9 team that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bluejays have made the NCAA tournament the past four seasons. Last year Creighton knocked off No.17 Western Kentucky during the regular season and No.14 Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 16 Illinois in the second round with virtually the same team it has this year. Dana Altman was named MVC Coach of the Year, Kyle Korver was named MVC Player of the Year and Terrell Taylor was named the MVC's Sixth Man of the Year. Taylor, who scored 12.6 ppg, is the team's biggest loss. The Jays have been picked to win their third consecutive Missouri Valley Conference title this season, led by the senior trio of DeAnthony Bowden, Larry House and Korver. Korver, Joe Dabbert, Brody Deren, Mike Grimes and Michael Lindeman give CU plenty of returning depth in the frontcourt, while Nate Funk, Tyler McKinney, Kellen Miliner and Brandon Sims all share time on the perimeter with House and Bowden. Creighton crushed its first three opponents with easy wins over Texas-Arlington (106-50) and Furman (82-57) at home and IUPUI (99-52) at the Guardians Classic in Kansas City, Mo. The Jays claimed the Guardians Classic championship, defeating Notre Dame 80-75 in the final. Korver won MVP honors after a career-best seven three-pointers and a season-high 24 points against Notre Dame. Though Notre Dame came within two on five occasions, they never led in the second half. Tyler McKinney made three clutch plays down the stretch and finished with a career-best 14 points for CU. Notre Dame went on to clobber No. 10 Marquette in its next game. After an eight-day layoff, the Jays opened their conference season at Northern Iowa Wednesday, winning 65-52 with House scoring a game-high 20 points. Korver leads CU on the year at 18.0 ppg, followed by House at 10.4 and Deren at 9.2. Deren pulls down a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game while Korver adds 4.4. Five players have double-digit assists this year as the Jays spread it around averaging 18.2 assists as a team. Korver hit five or more treys in each of the first four games and was 2-4 at Northern Iowa Wednesday, despite scoring only eight points. On the year he is shooting an incredible 65.8 percent on threes (25-38), having taken more three attempts than any other Jays player has attempted field goals, except House who has taken 49 shots, second to Korver's 52. Korver is shooting 57.7 percent overall and is 5-6 from the line. In the first four games, the Jays shot an incredible 58 percent from the floor, including 56 percent from three-point range. Overall, CU is shooting 54.3 percent, including 50.9 percent on threes, in its five wins. While they are hot from the floor, they are only shooting 59.2 percent from the free throw line. Creighton's Dana Altman (Eastern New Mexico, 1980) is in his ninth year as head coach of the Bluejays. He owns a 150-95 (.612) mark at CU and a career record of 233-162 (.590) in his 14th year as an NCAA Division I head coach. Altman has been named conference coach of the year eight times in his 17 years as a head coach, including recognition in 2001 and 2002 from the Missouri Valley Conference. Altman has led Creighton to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments and his teams have played in the postseason in eight of the past 11 years.
CREIGHTON'S PROBABLE STARTERS
POS. # NAME HT. WT. YR. PPG RPG OTHER
F 22 Michael Lindeman 6-6 190 Jr. 8.2 3.8 37 straight starts
F 25 Kyle Korver 6-7 210 Sr. 18.0 4.4 66% on threes
C 43 Brody Deren 6-8 245 Jr. 9.2 6.6 all-Guardians team
G 24 Tyler McKinney 6-2 175 So. 6.8 2.0 12.0 in last two games
G 20 Larry House 6-4 205 Sr. 10.4 2.8 Career 20 pts at N.Iowa
This will be the eighth meeting between the two teams. BYU leads the series 5-2 and has five of the last six games after defeating Creighton in Provo last year. Last year's game was the first meeting since 1973 when Creighton won for the last time, 99-86, at home. BYU is 2-2 at Creighton and 2-0 at home with a 1-0 neutral court mark. Steve Cleveland is 1-0 against Creighton. The overall series dates back to 1931. The teams met three times between 1931 and 1935 before the next meeting in 1964, followed by games in 1971 and 1973 prior to last year's contest in Provo.
QUOTING BYU Coach Steve CLEVELAND
"This is a very challenging road trip, playing at Arizona State and then at Creighton. Both are very good teams. I fully expect Creighton to end up in the top-20 rankings. They have good players and are well coached. Coach Altman is a class act. He has good depth and he has some great shooters. They are tough to play anywhere but it will be especially tough playing them at home. I like the way our guys are competing right now and with our added depth this year it gives us a better chance to be competitive on the road. In order for us to be a good team we have to win on the road. We went up against a quality team in ASU Wednesday. It was nice to get a win, but we know this isn't the end of our work by a long shot. We've got the toughest preseaosn schedule we've had since I've been at BYU and the Mountain West Conference will be the strongest it has ever been. And Creighton may be the best team on our preseason schedule."
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 5-2
BYU Record in Provo: 2-0
BYU Record at Creighton: 2-2
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 1-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 1-0
BYU Record in Overtime Games: N/A
Longest BYU Win Streak: 4 (1934-71)
Longest Creighton Win Streak: 1 (twice)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 35, 109-74 in 1964
Largest Creighton Margin of Victory: 13, 99-86 in 1973
Most Points Scored by BYU: 109 in 1964
Most Points Scored by Creighton: 99 in 1973
Date Opponent Score W/L
12-19-31 at Creighton 36-41 L
12-20-34 at Creighton 48-38 W
12-19-35 at Creighton 43-36 W
12-28-64 vs. Creighton* 109-74 W
* All College Tournament
12-11-71 Creighton 96-68 W
12-17-73 at Creighton @ Omaha 86-99 L
12-8-01 Creighton 61-52 W
CREIGHTON General Info
Location: Omaha, Neb.
Colors: Blue and White
Home Arena: Omaha Civic Auditorium (9,377)
Conference: Missouri Valley
Athletic Director: Bruce Rasmussen
Head Coach: Dana Altman
Alma Mater: Eastern New Mexico (1980)
Best time to call: Weekday mornings
Office Phone: (402) 280-1795
Overall Record (Years): 234-162 (14th)
Record at School (Years): 151-95 (9th)
Assistant Coaches: Greg Grensing, Len Gordy, Darian DeVries
Overall Record: 23-9
Conf. Record/Finish: 14-4/Tie-1st (1st in MVC tourney)
Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: N/A, 2nd Round NCAA Tournament
Letterman Returning/Lost: 10/2
Starters Returning/Lost: 5/0
Kyle Korver, 6-7, 210, Sr., F (15.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
Brody Deren, 6-8, 245, Jr., F (9.9 ppg 5.1 rpg)
Larry House, 6-4, 205, Sr., G (6.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
Michael Lindeman, 6-6, 190, Jr., F (6.7, 3.5 rpg)
Tyler McKinney, 6-2, 175, So., G (4.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
Basketball Contact: Rob Anderson
Office: (402) 280-5544
Home: (402) 935-1807
Fax: (402) 280-2495
Press Row: (402) 444-3208
Web Site: www.gocreighton.com
LAST YEAR'S BYU-Creighton OUTING IN PROVO
PROVO -- On a brisk night in Provo, BYU turned on the defensive heat to defeat the Creighton Bluejays 61-52 at the Marriott Center for the Cougars' 23rd straight home victory. The Cougar defense kept the pressure on Bluejay shooters all night, holding a team that came in averaging 86.2 points a game to just 52 points on 19-of-55 shooting from the field. The Cougars, led by a career-high 10 boards from true freshman Jared Jensen and a career-best eight rebounds by Daniel Bobik, outrebounded Creighton 36-29. Creighton's leading scorer, Kyle Korver, came in averaging over 19 points per game but was limited to just four points on 1-for-10 shooting from the field (1-of-3 from the line). The defensive effort ended 13 straight games Korver had reached double figures scoring dating back to the prior season. The Cougar offense was led by Travis Hansen, who finished 5-of-7 from the field with 18 points and Mark Bigelow, who shot 5-of-11 on the night for 17 points. The game was won for BYU at the free throw line, where the Cougars went 20-for-25, marking the third straight game the team had shot over 80 percent from the charity stripe. With their 26-23 lead at the half, the Cougars went into the locker room on top in each of their first six games. The victory pushed BYU's record to 4-2 on the season and dropped Creighton's record to 3-2 on the year.
WHAT THE COACHES HAD TO SAY ...
CREIGHTON HEAD COACH DANA ALTMAN:
"We had some trouble finishing some plays tonight. Our execution wasn't good, we missed some free throws and they outrebounded us. We didn't feel the flow and they outplayed us. At times we played well defensively, but we weren't in the game. The arena and the atmosphere was great, we just didn't shoot the ball."
BYU HEAD COACH STEVE CLEVELAND:
"I was really proud of our defensive effort tonight. They got a few open looks and offensive rebounds but we must have contested 95 percent of their shots. Eric Nielsen and Travis Hansen both did a really good job. I was really pleased because this is a team that lives off of execution and they are very disciplined. To play defensively the way we did tonight, I was really proud of our young men. A game like this is going to be like a boxing match and it was a situation where we don't believe we ran one play that they weren't calling out instructions to stop us. We went to a box set in the second half and we got a little more success. This was one of those ball games where both teams were taken out of their game. We were taking them out of what they want to do. I have a great deal of respect for teams like Creighton. I have respect for their program and what they've done this year."
COUGARS WIN AT ARIZONA STATE WEDNESDAY
TEMPE -- BYU improved to 5-0 on the year and ended its 11-game road losing streak Wednesday by beating the Arizona State Sun Devils, 64-60, at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz. The win also ended a seven-game road losing streak against Pac-10 teams that spanned 13 years. The Cougars never trailed after taking a 20-18 lead with 10:36 to go in the first half on a Jared Jensen dunk made possible by a steal by reserve guard Ricky Bower. BYU's largest advantage was 12 but ASU twice tied the game in the second half and had BYU's lead cut to one-point with just over two minutes to go. A Rafael Araujo free throw stretched BYU's advantage to three points with under a minute to play. Following the free throw, ASU's Curtis Millage, missed a desperation three-point attempt. The rebound was controlled by BYU's Kevin Woodberry; he was fouled and went to the line. Woodberry knocked down one of two shots with nine seconds left and the Cougars held on for a four-point victory. Center Jared Jensen carried BYU in the first half scoring 10 of his 12 points to pace the Cougars as they built a 10-point halftime lead at 35-25. The game was tied at 20-20 when BYU went on a 14-2 run to help build its double-digit advantage at the break. In the second half, ASU shot 48.5 percent from the floor to cut into the BYU lead. The Cougars shot a sizzling 66.7 percent in the first half but only shot 37.5 percent in the final half. Forward Travis Hansen led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Hansen took the game over hitting big buckets for BYU down the stretch. Jared Jensen ended the game with 12 points and six rebounds. Araujo was one point away from a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, along with three blocks and three assists. Four ASU players scored in double figures led by freshman Ike Diogu with 15 points and eight rebounds. Forward Tommy Smith chipped in 13 points. Jamal Hill scored 12 and Curtis Millage added 11. ASU falls to 4-2 on the season with its only other loss coming against Kentucky at the Maui Invitational. While improving to 5-0, BYU coach Cleveland earned his 90th win at the helm in Provo.
WHAT BYU COACH STEVE CLEVELAND HAD TO SAY ...
"We need to win on the road to be distinguished as a good team. We were able to withstand their runs and we got stops when we needed to. We did some really good things in the last few minutes."
UP NEXT FOR BYU
After Saturday's game at Creighton, BYU will fly home that evening. The Cougars' next opponent is the University of San Diego. That game will be played in the Marriott Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MST. The Toreros are currently 3-1, including a win at preseason nationally ranked UCLA.
BYU received votes in the national polls (Nov. 25) for the first time since last season's eight-game winning streak that included a win over No. 13 Stanford. BYU received four votes (T-41st) in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. BYU recieved two votes (49th) in the lastest Associated Press Poll. Creighton is rated just out of the top-25 in both polls, ranking 26th with 64 votes in the coaches poll and 26th in the AP poll with 125 votes.
BYU is rated 17th nationally in the latest Sagarin ratings, updated after Wednesday's results. The Cougars are the top-rated Mountain West Conferenc school with an 86.61 rating. UNLV is rated 39th (83.37), Wyoming 64th (81.12) and Utah 68th (80.91). Creighton is rated fith in the nation in the latest Sagarin system with an 89.15 rating. The Mountain West is rated eighth as a league while the Missouri Valley is ranked 11th.
BEST START SINCE 1991-92
After starting the season 2-0 for the fourth straight year, BYU was able to win its third contest for the first time since the 1991-92 season. At 5-0, BYU is off to its best start since the 1991-92 team won seven straight out of the gate. That team, like this year's team, was picked to finish fourth in the conference. The 1991-92 team went on to win the Western Athletic Conference title and finish 25-7 after losing to LSU and Shaquille O'Neal in the NCAA tournament.
BYU has won its last four games away from the Marriott Center, the team's best streak since BYU's 2001 NCAA team won five consecutive games (2 away, 3 at the MWC tournament) in March 2001. The Cougars have won five straight games overall, the longest overall streak since the Coagars won eight straight games last year during its preseason schedule. BYU defeated Creighton at home last year in the second game of the streak, which was highlighted by an upset victory over No. 13 Stanford at the Las Vegas Showdown. BYU's streak came to an end in an overtime loss at Pepperdine.
COUGARS CRUISE IN HOME OPENER
Scoring 95 points against Rice Saturday, BYU improved to 8-0 under Steve Cleveland when the Cougars have scored 90 or more points. BYU defeated Rice 95-56 thanks to an 18-1 first-half run that blew the game open. Saturday's 39 point victory over Rice is the largest win for the Cougars since BYU defeated Fort Lewis College by 49 points on Dec. 12, 2001.
HANSEN STARTS SENIOR SEASON STRONG
BYU's lone senior, guard Travis Hansen, is off to a strong start in his final campaign. He leads BYU in scoring (17.0 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg) and is second in rebounding (5.4 rpg), despite being ejected with 8:48 to go in BYU's win over Kansas State. Hansen is shooting 54.2 percent (26-48) from the floor, 50 percent (5-10) from behind the three-point line (which was extended to the experimental rules distance of 20 feet, 6 inches at the Paradise Jam), and 82.4 percent (28-34) from the free throw line. He scored a season-high 23 points at ASU Wednesday, including several big shots late to help the Cougars to the win.
BYU set the Paradise Jam tournament record for fewest average points allowed by giving up only 59 points per game in its three tournament wins. The previous record was LaSalle's 62.7 points allowed over three tournament games last year. In the championship game, BYU held St. Bonaventure, who came into the title showdown having scored 91 and 89 points in its first two games, to 57 points and 28 percent shooting. BYU held Toledo to 34.6 percent shooting and 56 points and allowed only 40.4 percent shooting and 64 points by Kansas State. Combined, BYU's Paradise Jam opponents shot 33.9 percent from the floor, including 31.8 percent on threes.
BYU has all five opponents below 42 percent shooting, and has held three of its five opponents below 35 percent shooting (ASU .413, Kansas State .404). BYU held its first four opponents below 30 percent shooting in the second half this year. ASU shot 48.5 percent in the final 20 minutes Wednesday but only 33.3 percent in the first half. BYU has held four of its five opponents this year to 60 points or less (Kansas State scored 64). BYU is 45-3 under Steve Cleveland when holding its opponents below 60 points. Against Rice Saturday, BYU held 2002 WAC Freshman of the Year forward Michael Harris, who came in averaging 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, including a 14-point, 10-rebound night on 7-10 shooting at Stanford, to 11 points and four boards. ASU's freshman sensation Ike Diogu was held five points below his season average.
BYU coach Steve Cleveland is expected to play a larger rotation this year with a deeper bench available. With junior forward Jake Shoff seeing his first playing time of the year against Kansas State, all 12 players who are expected to play this year have already received playing time. Shoff hadn't played in any of BYU's exhibtion contests or the opening game with Toledo due to back problems. He has had limited practice time as well since practices started in October. Sophomore guard Marc Roberts and guards Austin Ainge and Jermaine Odjegba are planning to use the season to redshirt. Ainge broke his thumb during practice three days before BYU's season opener. He had surgery in Phoenix and isn't expected to practice for another 4-6 weeks.
FROM BEHIND ARC
Prior to Wednesday's ASU game, BYU had shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in three of its first four games this year. At ASU, BYU hit only one three while attempting a season-low seven treys. All eight players to attempt a three have connected, with six players making 50 percent or better. Among those six, Mark Bigelow is 7-13, Travis Hansen 5-10, John Allen 4-6, Ricky Bower 3-5, Luiz Lemes 1-2 and Bart Jepsen 1-1. Kevin Woodberry is 4-19 and Terry Nashif 2-5 from three point range. BYU played at the experimental three-point distance of 20 feet, six inches during the Paradise Jam. BYU is shooting 44.3 percent (27-61) as a team on threes.
HOME WINNING STREAK
BYU has a 37-game home court winning streak. The streak, which is a school record topping the 24 straight won between March 1994 and January 1996, is the longest current streak in the nation. BYU went 16-0 at home last season and was 15-0 the prior year. BYU has had a perfect home record seven times since the Marriott Center opened for the 1971-72 season. The past two years, however, marks the first time it has happened in back-to-back seasons. Last year's team tied the BYU single-season record with 16 home wins and was only the fourth Cougar squad to win more than 14 home games in a season. The 1987-88 Ladell Andersen squad went 16-2 in the Marriott Center. BYU's last home loss was on Feb. 17, 2000 when New Mexico edged the Cougars 78-74. BYU has won 17 straight at home over MWC teams. BYU has defeated 28 straight nonconference opponents in the Marriott Center. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998.
BREAKING THROUGH ON THE ROAD
While BYU entered this season with the nation's longest active home winning streak at 36 games (now 37), the Cougars also finished last season having lost their last 10 games away from the Marriott Center and their last 11 straight games on an opponent's home court, including three in overtime. This year, BYU has snapped both losing streaks. With its three wins at the Paradise Jam -- BYU's first win streak away from home since the end of the 2001 season, BYU ended the 10-game skid and with BYU's victory at ASU Wednesday the Cougars got the 11-game road losing streak off their backs. Last year BYU won only twice away from home. Last year's road wins were a neutral court 81-76 upset over No. 13 Stanford at the Las Vegas Showdown on Dec. 22, 2001 and a season-opening win at San Diego, 70-59, on Nov. 17.
BYU is 12-7 on a neutral court under Steve Cleveland. Last year BYU was 1-1 on a neutral floor. Prior to the Paradise Jam, BYU's last neutral court game was a 62-51 loss to San Diego State at the 2002 MWC Tournament. BYU's prior neutral win was over No. 13 Stanford, 81-76, at the Las Vegas Showdown. The Cougars have won seven of their last nine neutral court contests.