Game 7 - BYU Hosts USC Saturday

Luiz Lemes and the Cougars prepare to host USC Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah -- After improving to 5-1 with its win Wednesday, BYU hosts the University of Southern California (3-2) of the Pac-10 Conference Saturday at 7 p.m. The game is not being televised. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 and the Cougar Sports Network, beginning with a one-hour pregame show. KSL's Greg Wrubell will call the play-by-play action with Mark Durrant providing analysis. Live audio and stats links are available on the basketball schedule page of the official BYU athletics website, byucougars.com. Live audio is also available on BYU Radio on the Dish Network and at byuradio.org.

UP NEXT

BYU hosts instate foe Weber State Saturday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. (SportsWest Productions - KSL-TV)

GAME #7 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (5-1, 0-0 MWC) vs. USC (3-2, 0-0 Pac-10)

SATURDAY, DEC. 13, 2003

MARRIOTT CENTER (22,700)

PROVO, UTAH

7:05 p.m. MST

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (113-79 in seventh year; same overall)

USC, Henry Bibby (122-96 in eighth year; same overall college division I)

Series:

USC leads, 4-2. Last: USC won 70-67 on Dec. 23, 2000 at Yahoo Invitational in Laie, Hawaii)

TV: None

Radio:

KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)

Pregame Air Time: 6 p.m. MST

Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell

Game Analyst: Mark Durrant

Web:

Live stats and live audio links available at byucougars.com/basketball_m/ (select 2003-04 schedule) and audio available via BYU Radio on Dish Network and byuradio.org.

USC TROJANS

USC coach Henry Bibby returns all five starters and six of his top scorers among the eight lettermen back from last year's Pac-10 Tournament finalists. The Trojans also add three highly touted freshman to a program that has been the Pac-10 Tournament runner-up the past two seasons and has been to the NCAA Tournament two of the past three years. The Trojans enter Saturday's game in the Marriott Center with a 3-2 record coming off back-to-back overtime wins over at upcoming BYU opponent St. Mary's (84-83) and against Cal-State Fullerton (96-90). Including its 92-83 overtime loss to the Mountain West's UNLV in Los Angeles on Dec. 3, the Trojans have gone to an extra period in each of their last three games. USC opened the year with a loss at Western Michigan (83-65) before downing Cal-State Northridge (75-69) at home. The Trojans are led in scoring by senior guard Desmon Farmer (6-5, 220) at 17.4 points. Farmer, who came off the bench for the first time in the last game, is the Trojan's top returning scorer from last season when he averaged 18.7 points per outing. Joining Farmer are three other Trojans averaging double figures with junior forward Jeff McMillan (6-8, 260) totaling 15.8, junior center Rory O'Neil (6-11, 240) contributing 12.4 and junior guard Errick Craven (6-2, 205) adding 10.4 points. McMillan pulls down a team-leading 8.4 rebounds for the Trojans to give them a slight 36.6-35.8 edge on the boards as a team. Identical twin freshmen Rodrick and Lodrick Stewart have been given four and two starting assignments, respectively, as coach Bibby is meshing their vast talents with his experienced returners. Lodrick is scoring 8.6 points while Rodrick is adding 3.6 points with both playing 22 minutes per game in all five contests. Another freshman, Quinton Day, has appeared in three games, averaging 1.0 points in his 5.3 minutes. Seven Trojans have started a game and nine have seen action. Derrick Craven, identical twin brother of Errick, has one start and plays 23 minutes on average while adding 8.8 points. USC is a good offensive team that likes a quick pace, averaging 80.6 points on .457 shooting from the floor and .755 from the line. The Trojans are surrendering 83.4 points and allowing opponents to shoot .478 from the field. USC has been hurt behind the three-point arc this season. USC is making 5.8 threes per game on 26 percent shooting while giving up 9.2 threes on 37 percent shooting.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE

The Trojans have two sets of identical twins that are among the team's top eight players. Errick and Derrick Craven are both junior guards being joined by freshman guards Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart.

USC'S PROJECTED STARTERS (BASED ON LAST GAME)

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

F 5 Jeff McMillan 6-8 260 Jr. 15.8 8.4

C 21 Rory O'Neil 6-11 240 Jr. 12.4 4.8

G 3 Lodrick Stewart 6-4 210 Fr. 8.6 2.8

G 23 Rodrick Stewart 6-4 200 Fr. 3.6 2.2

G 22 Errick Craven 6-2 205 Jr. 10.4 2.8

LAST OUTING -- USC DEFEATS CS-FULLERTON IN THIRD STRAIGHT OVERTIME OUTING

Desmon Farmer hit six consecutive free throws in overtime and Southern California rallied to beat Cal State-Fullerton 96-90 Tuesday night. The Trojans (3-2) trailed much of the second half and needed a 3-pointer by Farmer with 56 seconds remaining to force overtime tied at 78. His 3-point attempt to win the game in regulation hit the side of the rim. Even then, the Titans had a chance to win in regulation. Freshman Bobby Brown, who scored a season-high 27 points, missed on a driving layup. Anthony Bolton added 18 points for Fullerton (2-4). Rory O'Neil led the Trojans with 21 points, Jeff McMillan added 20 points and Farmer finished with 18 points. In overtime, the Trojans scored the first five points and never trailed again. Brown and Bolton scored all of Fullerton's points in the extra session. They each had a 3-pointer, giving the Titans 14 3-pointers for the game. Brown hit five of those and Bolton added four. The Titans trailed 35-33 at halftime, but quickly took control and never trailed the rest of regulation. McMillan scored and Farmer hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 78 with 56 seconds left. The Trojans played their third consecutive overtime game, a first-time streak for the program. They lost in overtime to UNLV 92-83 on Dec. 3 and beat St. Mary's 84-83 last Saturday. The Titans opened the second half with a 19-6 run, including 3-pointers by Brown, Bolton and Pape Sow, to take a 52-41 lead. The Trojans answered with seven straight points to pull within four. Three times USC got within one point in the final 12 minutes, but couldn't take the lead.

USC FACES BYU IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER FOR THE FIRST TIME

The Trojans have not played the Cougars in Provo since 1968 when BYU defeated USC 95-86 in the only meeting in Provo on Nov. 30, 1968 in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Trojans have won the last two games against BYU, but only one game (2000 Yahoo Invitational in Laie, Hawaii)has taken place since 1970.

BYU-USC LAST MEETING

LAIE -- BYU suffered its second heartbreaking loss to a ranked opponent in two nights as it fell 70-67 to No. 13 USC at the Yahoo! Sports Invitational on Saturday. The Cougars played an outstanding first half and led by 18 points at the break thanks in part to two techical fouls and ejection of Trojan head coach Henry Bibby. The Cougar's defense also held USC to 27 percent shooting and 23 points in the first half. But USC came out in the second half a different team and began to pound the ball inside to its physical front line of Brian Scalabrine and Sam Clancy. Quickly the Trojans got to the foul line and started to cut into the Cougar lead. "We just lost our composure in the second half," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "When Mekeli (Wesley) picked up his fourth foul early we lost our scoring presence inside." BYU, who led for 37 minutes of the game, relinquished its lead with three minutes to play on a Clancy fadeaway jumper. But the Cougars didn't let the game slip away. Terrell Lyday hit a three pointer with under two minutes left to play to cut a Trojan four-point lead to one. Then on USC's next possesion the Trojans were called for an offensive foul and BYU had a chance to take the lead with a minute to play. As the shot clock wound down Freshman Jake Chrisman found himself open and missed a ten-foot jump shot. USC rebounded with 42 seconds left on the shot clock and a one point lead. It looked as if the Cougars might make the defensive stand but 5-foot 9 inch point guard Brandon Granville snuck baseline around BYU to lay the ball in with no time on the shot clock. The Cougars had one last chance with seven seconds left, but attempts to set up Trent Whiting for a final shot took too long and time expired before he could attempt a field goal. USC got to the foul line 35 times with Scalabrine taking 16 of the Trojan's foul shots. Eric Nielsen and Nate Knight both fouled out. "It seemed liked they (USC) were on the free throw line the whole second half," Cleveland said. Wesley, who led BYU with 19 points, played his third impressive offensive performance of the tournament and was one of five players named to the All-Tournament Team. He was seven of 10 from the field, but only played 25 minutes because of foul trouble. Lyday was solid as well scoring 17 and connecting on four assists for the Cougars. Whiting and Eric Nielsen also scored in double figures for BYU with 12 and 10 points respectively. The Cougars lost the previous night to No. 27 Iowa State in another nail-biter 71-77. But the loss to the Trojans was the tougher pill to swallow. "It hurts real bad to lose this one," Cleveland said. "This was a big game for our guys and they played well enough to win, but it just didn't happen tonight."

BYU-USC SERIES BREAKDOWN

Overall Series Record: USC leads 4-2

BYU Record in Provo: 1-0

BYU Record at Southern California:1-2

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-2

BYU Record Under Steve Cleveland: 0-1

BYU Record in Overtime Games: N/A

Longest BYU Win Streak: 2 (1963-68)

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

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 9, 95-86 in 1968

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

'Yahoo Invitational in Laie, Hawaii

USC QUICK FACTS

General Info

Location: Los Angeles

Founded: 1880

Enrollment: 30,000

Nickname: Trojans

Colors: Cardinal& Gold

Home Arena: Los Angeles Sports Arena (16,161)

Conference: Pac-10

Athletic Director: Michael Garrett

Basketball Info

Head Coach: Henry Bibby

Alma Mater: UCLA '72

Best Time to Call: Contact SID

Office Phone: (213) 740-8480

Overall Record (Years): 122-96 (8th year)

Record at School (Years): Same

Assistant Coaches: Marvin Menzles, Eric Brown, Mike Johnson

2002-2003

Overall Record: 13-17

Conference Record/Finish: 6-12 (6th)

Final Ranking/Post Season Finish: None

2003-2004

Letterman Returning/Lost: 8/4

Starters Returning/Lost: 5/0

Leading Scorer Returning

Desmon Farmer (G, 6-5, Sr.) 18.7 ppg

Leading REBOUNDER Returning

Errick Craven (G, Jr. 6-2) 5.3 rpg.

Media Relations

Basketball Contact: Paul Goldberg

Office: (213) 740-3815

Home: (310) 475-6841

E-mail: pgoldber@usc.edu

Fax: (213) 740-7584

Press Row: (213) 741-1341

Web Site: www.usctrojans.com

COUGARS HOSTING CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER TUESDAY EVENING

BYU coach Steve Cleveland and the men's and women's basketball teams hope to bring a little Christmas cheer this year to some 80 families who have children with cancer. The basketball teams are working with the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing assistance for children with cancer and their families, to host its annual Christmas Party for local families who have children with cancer. The party is Tuesday night. "Last year's party was the biggest ever and this year's party will be even bigger," Cleveland said. "Last year we more than doubled the number of families involved and we have even more this year. We all genuinely love being involved and trying to bring some more Christmas cheer to these courageous young children and their families. They are a real inspiration." At the party, the children with cancer and their siblings are able to play games, have posters autographed by the men's and women's players, enjoy good food, and visit with Cosmo -- BYU's mascot, and, of course, Santa Claus. The children all receive several gifts and the Pizza Factory provides food for all in attendance. Including volunteers and organizers, more than 500 people are expected to participate in this year's party. "This has been a very rewarding experience for me and for the young men on the team," said Cleveland, who has been involved along with the basketball team the past six years. "This helps give our players some perspective, to see that there is much more than basketball. It is a good opportunity to serve others. The Foundation is working hard to help all the families they can. Seeing these kids smile and enjoy themselves at the party is a nice feeling for everyone involved, especially considering all these families go through on a daily basis."

COUGAR CAPSULE

The Cougars have won four straight, including a win over No. 25 Oklahoma State, on their way to a 5-1 start. They are the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference this year, returning four starters from last year's 23-9 co-championship team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Four-year starter Mark Bigelow and fellow senior Rafael Araujo were both named to the Preseason All-MWC Team and are MWC Player of the Year candidates. Bigelow is the team's top returning scorer at 13.9 ppg while Araujo pulled down a team-best 8.9 rebounds last year. Senior guard Kevin Woodberry and junior forward Jared Jensen also return as starters for BYU coach Steve Cleveland. Key newcomers include junior transfer Mike Hall and freshmen Mike Rose and Garner Meads. Araujo is scoring 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds to lead BYU after six games. Hall adds 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds while Bigelow is scoring 11.7 points and Woodberry 7.5 points. Luiz Lemes leads the team in assists (4.7). As a team, the Cougars shoot .487 from the floor, including .365 on threes, and .743 from the line while scoring 76.8 points per game. BYU allows 60.3 points while the opposition has shot .424 from the field and .308 from behind the arc. BYU has a 9.7 rebound advantage.

LAST OUTING -- ARAUJO DOMINATES IN BYU WIN OVER NO. 25 OKLAHOMA STATE

PROVO, Utah -- Five Cougars reached double figures and all 10 players scored in BYU's 92-56 victory over Western Oregon Wednesday at the Marriott Center. The win improves BYU to a 5-1 record, 3-0 at home, while Western Oregon falls to 5-2 on the season. "They are big, quick and physical," Western Oregon coach Tim Hills said. "I've seen a couple players as big as Araujo but they're playing on television. That's probably where he'll be next year." The Sporting News National Player of the Week, Araujo recorded his fourth consecutive double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. He was joined in double-digit points by fellow seniors Mark Bigelow and Luiz Lemes, junior Mike Hall and freshman Mike Rose as the Cougars scored a season-high 92 points. "The most important thing was that we were able to play everybody," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "These games provide opportunities for our players to get experience before getting into the heart of our season." Araujo and Bigelow led BYU with 15 points apiece. Bigelow's offensive performance puts him in 12th place (1,382) on the school's all-time scoring list, surpassing Roland Minson's 1,375 points from 1949-51. Rose ended with 14 points, knocking down 4-of-5 three-pointers. Lemes and Hall each scored 13 points and contributed solid games. Lemes was an instant spark for the Cougars and led the team with 12 points at the half. He shot 4-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-4 from behind the arc to help give BYU a 19-point lead going into the half. Scoring in double digits in four of five games this season, Hall added another consistent game grabbing six rebounds, dishing out four assists and adding two blocks. The BYU defense was strong from the start and gave Western Oregon trouble, creating 16 turnovers, including one shot-clock violation, and holding the team to under 40 percent shooting from the floor and behind the arc. The Cougars out shot the Wolves from the floor and from the three-point arc, but struggled from the free-throw line. "The biggest disappointment tonight was our free throw shooting," Cleveland said. "We need to be much better at the foul line." Western Oregon's Robert Day and Sean Kelly led the Wolves with 23 and 21 points, respectively.

CLEVELAND GETTING IT DONE (2003 MWC COACH OF THE YEAR)

BYU coach Steve Cleveland was named MWC Coach of the Year in 2003. At 23-9 last year, BYU achieved its fourth straight postseason tournament invitation and third 20-win season in the last four years. Only eight BYU teams have ever achieved more victories in a season than last year's team. The BYU record for wins is 28 (9 losses) in 1951 when the Cougars won the national title as NIT champs. The 2002-03 season was Cleveland's third 20-win season in the last four years, including a 24-9 record in 2001. The only BYU coaches to have more 20-win seasons are Stan Watts (7) and Roger Reid (6). Cleveland joins Frank Arnold and Ladell Andersen with three 20-win seasons.

BYU SCHEDULE INCLUDES ACC, BIG XII AND PAC-10 OPPONENTS

Potential matchups with six nonconference opponents that made the 2003 NCAA Tournament, including teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big XII Conference and Pac-10 Conference, and 15 overall contests against teams that qualified for postseason play last year highlight the 2003-04 BYU men's basketball schedule. "We look forward to what should be a very challenging schedule with more than half our games being against teams that qualified for postseason last year," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "We face some very talented teams during nonconference and every game is a battle during the Mountain West season."

WINNING BASKETBALL TRADITION

With its all-time record of 1455-932 (.610), BYU is the ranked 40th all-time in winning percentage among all Division I basketball programs. In terms of total wins, BYU is in the top 25. The Cougars have had 81 winning seasons in their 101 years of basketball and have made 29 postseason appearances, including 20 NCAA bids, and won 26 conference championships.

ARAUJO EARNS NATIONAL, CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS

BYU senior center Rafael Araujo has been named the National Player of the Week by The Sporting News and the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week after recording two double-doubles in victories at Boise State (75-69) and against 25th-ranked Oklahoma State (76-71). It is Araujo's second career player of the week honor. Araujo collected his second and third double-doubles (11th career) of the season last week. He averaged 31.5 points and 15.5 rebounds, while shooting 71.4 percent from the floor and 76.7 percent from the free throw line. In the win at Boise State, Araujo scored 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. He made 10-of-13 attempts from the field and earned 14 trips to the free throw line, knocking down 11. In the victory over Oklahoma State at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Araujo scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. He made 10-of-15 field goals and 12-of-16 free throws on the day and scored 26 of the Cougars' 40 second half points. His 17 rebounds, one shy of the entire OSU team, led the way for BYU as it dominated the boards against the Cowboys, 44-18.

BIGELOW CONTRIBUTES WHILE FIGHTING THROUGH SHOOTING SLUMP

Preseason All-MWC selection Mark Bigelow has gotten off to an uncharacteristly poor shooting start making only 36 percent from the floor, including 21 percent on threes. He had his first game better than 40 percent shooting when he made 5-of-9 shots against Western Oregon and had 15 points. He has found a way to make big plays despite his shooting woes. In BYU's win over No. 25 Oklahoma State, Bigelow was just 4-for-12 from the floor, including 0-for-5 on threes, but he scored a season-high 16 points and hit several key shots for the Cougars. He was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including four successful shots in the final moments to secure the win. Although he shot only 4-for-11 at Boise State, he scored 10 of his 15 points in the final seven minutes to secure BYU's road victory. Bigelow is BYU's all-time three-point leader and the team's top returning scorer from a year ago (13.9) with a career scoring average over 14 points per game. He came in with career shooting percentages of 43 percent from the floor and 41 percent on threes.

ROSE PROVIDES LONG-RANGE THREAT

It didn't take long for freshman Mike Rose to put his name in the BYU record book. In his college debut, the true freshman guard out of Houston set a new BYU single-game record with eight 3-pointers while scoring a game-high 26 points to lead the Cougars to an 88-54 win over Southern Utah University. His 26 points is the most scored by a BYU freshman since Mark Bigelow totaled 33 points at Washington State in 1998. Rose's eight 3-pointers broke the BYU record of seven threes in a game, previously set by Nick Sanderson (1992) and Danny Bower (1998). Rose's performance behind the arc was just shy of tying the Marriott Center's record of nine 3-pointers in a game held by Utah State's Jay Goodman (1990). Rose also dished out six assists with only one turnover and added two rebounds and one steal in his 22 minutes off the bench. He made 61.5 percent of his 3-point attempts, going 8-of-13 from behind the arc, and finished 9-for-16 (.563) overall from the floor against Southern Utah's match-up zone. He scored 17 points in 11 first-half minutes on 6-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-7 on threes. He broke the school record with 7:01 left in the second half on a three taken several feet behind the arc. Rose played four minutes without taking a shot at Cal and went 1-for-2, missing his only three, in 13 minutes against UVSC. He was 0-for-4, taking two threes, at Boise State in 10 minutes. He did not play vs. Oklahoma State. He made 5-of-10 threes and scored 14 points in 18 minutes against Western Oregon.

IN THE POST

When Rafael Araujo and Jared Jensen make major contributions BYU usually achieves victory. BYU is 4-0, all last season, when Araujo and Jensen both contribute 10 or more points in a game. The Cougars are 10-3, 4-0 this year, when Araujo leads the team in scoring and 9-3, 4-0 this season, when Araujo posts a double-double. BYU was 10-1 last year, 0-0 this season, when Jared Jensen scores double-digit points from his forward slot.

TOP-25 OPPONENTS

Facing No. 25 Oklahoma State, BYU played its first top-25 ranked team this season. The victory was BYU's first over a top-25 team since an 81-76 victory over No. 13 Stanford on Dec. 22, 2001 at the Las Vegas Showdown.

RECORD AGAINST TOP TEAMS

BYU is 1-1 this year against teams that qualified for postseason last year with its five-point win over Oklahoma State on a neutral floor and its one-point loss at Cal. BYU finished last season with a 7-2 record against teams that were conference champions the prior season. BYU went 12-6 last year against teams that qualified for postseason play in 2002. BYU played 12 games last year against eight teams that earned an invitation to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. BYU had a 5-7 record in those games (UConn 0-1, Arizona State 1-0, San Diego 1-0, Utah State 1-0, Colorado State 2-1, Weber State 0-1, Creighton 0-1, Oklahoma State 0-1, Utah 0-2). Seven of BYU's nine losses in 2002-03 came against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. UNLV and San Francisco were the two teams to beat BYU that didn't advance to the NCAA tournament.

NEUTRAL COURT

The Cougars have won nine of their last 14 neutral court contests. BYU is 14-10 on a neutral court under Steve Cleveland. Last year BYU earned a 4-3 mark on a neutral floor with three wins at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to claim the Jam Title and a Mountain West Tournament victory over New Mexico. Its three losses were to UConn in the NCAA Tournament, Colorado State in the MWC Tournament semifinals and to Oklahoma State at the Touchstone Energy All-College Classic in Oklahoma City.

IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER

BYU is 3-0 at home this year. BYU has won 52 of its last 53 games at home and is 47-1 over in the past four seasons. BYU finished last season 13-1 at home in 2002-03. Lone senior Travis Hansen concluded his three seasons as a Cougar having lost only once at home. BYU earned a 44-1 record in Hansen's three years at BYU -- the best three-year home record in school history. The second-best home record over three years was a 39-2 mark from 1979-81 in Danny Ainge's final three seasons. The 44-1 record over the prior three seasons is the school's best-ever three-year home record. BYU won a school-record 44 straight home games in the Marriott Center before losing to Utah, 79-75, on Jan. 25. The streak was the longest active streak in the country over part of last season and this season. BYU continues its string of nonconference home wins.

NONCONFERENCE VICTORY STREAK IN THE MARRIOTT CENTER

The Cougars have defeated 37 straight non-conference opponents in the Marriott Center since starting the streak with a 61-59 win over Utah State on Jan. 2, 1999. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998.

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 8-0

On the road 1-0

On a neutral floor 1-0

At home vs. Nonconference 37-0

At home vs. MWC 5-0

On the road vs. Nonconference 1-0

On the road vs. MWC 2-0

On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 1-0

On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1

BYU PICKED AS FAVORITE TO CLAIM 2004 MWC CROWN

Bigelow, Araujo selected to preseason All-MWC team

The Mountain West Conference released its men's basketball preseason media poll and all-conference team at the league's media day being held at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. The league media selected BYU to claim the Mountain West Conference men's basketball title with 144 total points and 13 of the possible 19 first-place votes. Utah was picked second with 138 points and was the only other team to garner first place votes with six. Defending MWC Tournament Champion Colorado State came in third with 107 points, followed by UNLV fourth with 97. Wyoming placed fifth with 73 points, followed by San Diego State (55), New Mexico (36), and Air Force (35). BYU has earned a share of the conference titles in 2001 and 2003, but this is the first time in more than 10 years the Cougars have been the preseason MWC favorites. The Cougars and Utes shared the conference's regular season crown last season with 11-3 records. BYU went 23-9 overall and fell to Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Utah finished the 2002-03 season 25-8, defeating Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Kentucky in the second round. The Mountain West Conference has sent six of its eight teams to the postseason each of the past two seasons and is the only league in the country to have sent 75 percent of its members to the postseason two straight years. BYU seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo were selected to the preseason first-team All-MWC team. Other athletes picked were Utahs Tim Frost and Nick Jacobson, Air Force's Tim Keller and the top MWC returnee Matt Nelson from CSU.

BYU IN THE POLLS

In the Associated Press Poll, BYU moved up eight spots being listed in a tie for 32nd while Oklahoma State fell out of its No. 25 ranking to be listed 28th. BYU moved up three spots in this week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll being listed tied for 37th while Oklahoma State dropped one spot to 27th.

BIGELOW MOVING UP CAREER SCORING LIST

Senior Mark Bigelow moved into 12th place on BYU's all-time scoring list against Western Oregon to pass Roland Minson (1,375 from 1949-51).He needs seven points to surpass current BYU assistant coach Andy Toolson (1,388 points from 1985, 88-90) for 11th place and 27 points to move into the top 10, passing Jay Cheesman (1,408 points from 1974-77). Bigelow should steadily climb the list in his final season with the chance to finish his career among the top four scorers in Cougar hoops history.

ARAUJO IN 30-30 CLUB

Rafael Araujo scored back-to-back, 30 points games with his 31 points at Boise State and career-best 32 points against No. 25 Oklahoma State at the Delta Center. Araujo became the first Cougar to accomplish the feat since Terrell Lyday scored 35 points in a win at Utah State and followed that with a 30-point effort in a win at UNLV in January 2000.

COUGARS COMING OFF SUCCESSFUL SUMMER TOUR TO AUSTRALIA

Getting an early jump on the upcoming season, BYU participated in a six-game tour of Australia against professional teams in Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. "Four years ago when we went to Europe it helped us get a head start on the season," BYU Coach Steve Cleveland said. "This was a nice opportunity to implement our system and give the players some good experience. Everyone got a chance to play significant minutes." BYU earned the first of four consecutive postseason tournament berths under Cleveland in 2000 after its summer 1999 trip to England, Croatia and Italy. The NCAA allows a foreign tour once every four years. The team was also allowed 10 additional practice days to prepare for the trip. All of last year's returning players were allowed to make the trip, including redshirt freshmen Austin Ainge and Garner Meads. Newcomers Mike Hall and Michael Rose, along with returning missionary Derek Dawes, were not eligible for the trip. The Cougars played six games in seven nights, posting a 4-2 record. Senior Mark Bigelow led the team, scoring 21.6 points in 27 minutes per game. Senior center Rafael Araujo added 14.0 ppg and a team-high 7.7 rpg in 20 minutes of action. Redshirt freshman Garner Meads scored 9.3 ppg and pulled down 6.0 rpg. The tour also includes visits to the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach and the Great Barrier Reef.

2002-03 RECAP

In 2002-03, BYU earned its fourth straight postseason berth and second NCAA bid in the last three years while claiming a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title for the second time in the last three years. Playing among the nation's toughest schedules, including 11 different conferences on its non-league slate, the Cougars finished the year with a 23-9 overall record, going 11-4 through the pre-conference schedule before earning a share of the MWC regular season title with Utah at 11-3. The Cougars went 1-1 at the MWC Tournament before losing to No. 5-seed Connecticut at the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash. BYU went 13-1 at home and 10-8 away, including a 4-3 neutral record and 6-5 road mark. The Cougars had the MWC's top defense and also won the preseason Paradise Jam title in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. BYU was led by senior guard Travis Hansen, junior swingman Mark Bigelow and junior center Rafael Araujo. Hansen, one of two first-team All-MWC consensus players, led the team in scoring (16.8) and blocks (20) and was second in assists (2.4) and rebounds (4.8). Bigelow, a third-team All-MWC selection, was second in scoring (13.9), third in rebounding (3.7) and the team's top three-point shooter (63). Araujo, a third-team All-MWC pick, was the third-leading scorer (12.0) and top rebounder (8.9). Sophomore forward Jared Jensen, who received All-MWC honorable mention, added 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while JC transfer Kevin Woodberry averaged 6.3 points and 2.5 assists at the point.

NBA DRAFT

BYU's lone departing senior in 2003, guard Travis Hansen, was selected 37th overall in 2003 NBA Draft and has signed a two-year contract with the Atlanta Hawks. BYU rates second among Mountain West Conference teams with 42 NBA Draft selections after UNLV's 49.

BYU LANDS TOP-20 RECRUITING CLASS

Four highly regarded high school recruits signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball at BYU during the November signing period. Rated one of the top-20 recruiting classes nationally and the third-best class in the West, BYU received official commitments from top prospects David Burgess (Irvine, Calif.), Lee Cummard (Mesa, Ariz.), Chris Miles (Provo, Utah) and Trent Plaisted (San Antonio, Texas).

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