Game 8 - BYU Faces Washington State at the Delta Center

BYU plays in the Delta Center for the second straight season when the Cougars face Washington State Saturday at 4 p.m. Last year the Cougars defeated nationally ranked Oklahoma State in the Delta Center. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU (2-5) hosts the Washington State Cougars (3-3) Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. This is the second annual Delta Center game for the Cougars, who earning a 76-71 win over nationally ranked Oklahoma State last season. The game is not being televised. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 or online at KSL.com.

UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS

The Cougars play only once next week due to finals. BYU hosts in-state rival Utah State next Saturday in a 7 p.m. rematch. The Cougars lost to the Aggies 71-57 in Logan on Dec. 1. The game will be televised by SportsWest Productions.

BYU GAME #8 FAST FACTS

BYU COUGARS (2-5, 0-0 MWC) vs. WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS (3-3, 0-0 Pac-10)

SATURDAY, DEC. 11, 2004

DELTA CENTER (19,980)

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

4:05 p.m. MST

Coaches:

BYU, Steve Cleveland (131-92 in eighth season; same overall)

Washington State, Dick Bennett (16-19 in second season; 470-276 in 27th season overall)

Series:

Series is tied 4-4 (Last meeting: Washington State 70, BYU 69, Dec. 8, 1998, in Pullman, Washington)

TV: None

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

- Steve Cleveland's young squad meshes 10 players who did not suit up for BYU last year with six returning lettermen. Of those returning, senior Mike Hall started in 28 of 30 games last year while averaging 12.8 ppg, sophomore Garner Meads made 18 starts (averaged 16 minutes in 29 games, 4.2 ppg) and senior Jared Jensen started 8 games (averaged 12.1 minutes in 27 games, 3.8 ppg). The other three players who played for BYU last season include senior Terry Nashif (averaged 7.4 minutes in 23 games, 1.0 ppg), sophomore Mike Rose (averaged 7.9 minutes in 26 games, 3.9 ppg) and sophomore Austin Ainge (averaged 4.5 minutes in 8 games, 1.3 ppg).

- Among the 12 players who have seen the most time for BYU this season, seven are sophomores, two are freshman and three are seniors.

- After starting the year playing on an injured ankle, senior Mike Hall's play has been noticeably better as his injured ankle has improved. He is averaging 19 points over the last four games, including a career-high 23 points at Utah State and 21 Wednesday vs. Boise State.

- Sophomore swingman Jimmy Balderson has made an impact in his three games played this season since coming off a planned redshirt season. He has averaged 10.3 points while shooting 47 percent on threes in three games, including a career-best 22 points in 25 minutes at USC.

- BYU has shot the ball well the past two games, topping 50 percent on threes in both contests.

- Washington State is the fourth Pac-10 opponent BYU has faced this season. The Cougars have also faced nationally ranked North Carolina of the ACC.

LOOKING AT WASHINGTON STATE

Washington State is off to a 3-3 start, including a 1-2 record on the road. The Cougars won their first two games of the season against Montana State (59-42) and Georgia Southern (61-42) at home before traveling to Kansas State and picking up their first loss (62-53). Washington State then made history in its next two games, falling 81-29 against No. 6 Oklahoma State, tying the Cougars' worst loss ever, and beating Idaho 37-36, the lowest point total in a Cougar victory since 1947. WSU suffered a 54-52 defeat at home against No. 25 Gonzaga on Tuesday. The Cougars return four starters and six lettermen, five of which are seniors, from last year's 13-16 team. Washington State is led by senior guard Thomas Kelati, an Honorable Mention All-PAC-10 pick last season who currently averages 10.3 ppg and 2.5 rpg. Kelati is fifth all-time at WSU in three-point buckets with 163 and 10th in steals with 100. Senior guard Jeff Varem leads the team with 7.3 rpg while adding a third-best 6.2 ppg and senior forward Shami Gill is second in rebounding with 4.4 rpg while contributing 4.2 ppg. The Cougars added six freshman in the offseason who have accounted for almost 50 percent of WSU's scoring output so far. Freshman Robbie Cowgill, a 6-10 center, is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 6.3 ppg while pulling down 3.7 boards per game. Cowgill also leads the Cougars with seven blocked shots. Freshman guard Kyle Weaver, who started at point guard in WSU's season-opener, is tied for the team lead in assists with 14 while contributing 4.8 ppg (fifth on the team) and 3.8 rpg. Freshman Josh Akognon is tied for third on the team with 6.2 ppg, making three out of the Cougars' top five scorers freshmen. As a team the Cougars ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 52.6 ppg, and 33rd in field goal percentage defense (37.7). WSU averages just 48.5 ppg while shooting 33.5 percent from the field. Cowgill leads the way with a 50 percent (14-28) shooting mark. The Cougars are also shooting 26.6 percent from behind the arc and 62.7 percent from the free-throw line. Head coach Dick Bennett owns a 16-19 record in his second season in Pullman and is 470-276 overall.

COUGARS ON THE ROAD THIS YEAR

Washington State is currently 1-2 on the road this season. The Cougars lost 62-53 at Kansas before beating the Idaho Vandals 37-36. WSU's 37 points vs. Idaho is the lowest in a Cougar victory since 1947. Washington State then traveled to No. 6 Oklahoma State where the Cougars suffered a 81-29 blowout loss, tying their largest defeat ever (52 points). Washington State is 7-10 on the road under head coach Dick Bennett, after going 6-65 prior to his arrival.

WASHINGTON STATE'S PROBABLE STARTERS

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

F 5 Chris Schlatter 6-7 220 Sr. 4.3 3.3

F 45 Jeff Varem 6-6 240 Sr. 6.2 7.3

C 34 Robbie Cowgill 6-10 200 Fr. 6.3 3.7

G 11 Thomas Kelati 6-5 194 Sr. 10.3 2.5

G 12 Randy Green 6-4 187 Jr. 2.3 0.8

SERIES NOTES

Saturday's matchup will be the ninth meeting between Washington State and BYU dating back to 1946. The teams are in a dead-heat to date with each squad owning four wins. BYU's record in Provo is 3-3. This is the first neutral floor contest. The last matchup between the teams occurred in 1998 when BYU lost a close 70-69 decision at Washington State. BYU's true freshman Mark Bigelow lit up the scoreboard, posting a career-high 33 points on his way to WAC Pacific Division Freshman of the Year honors.

BYU SERIES RECORD VS. WASHINGTON STATE

Overall Series Record: Series tied 4-4

BYU Record in Provo: 3-3

BYU Record at Washington State: 1-1

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: N/A

BYU Record Under Steve Cleveland: 0-2

BYU Record in Overtime Games: N/A

Longest BYU Win Streak: 3 (1946-85)

Longest Washington State Win Streak: 2 (1997-present)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 20, 64-44 in 1952

Largest WSU Margin of Victory: 29, 78-49 in 1997

Most Points Scored by BYU: 72 in 1958

Most Points Scored by Washington State: 78 in 1997

BYU vs. THE PAC-10

Washington State is the fourth PAC-10 opponent BYU has faced in its first eight games this season. 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 year 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 Stanford (62-53), Cal (67-64) and USC (87-82) this season, BYU is 88-101 against the PAC-10 overall. BYU is 5-15 against the Pac-10 under Steve Cleveland, including a 4-3 mark the past three seasons.

STRING OF THREES

Both Cougar teams have extended three-point streaks going. BYU has made a bucket from beyond the arc in 247 consecutive games while Washington State has a stretch of 259 straight games with at least one three-point make.

LAST YEAR'S DELTA CENTER OUTING -- ARAUJO DOMINATES IN BYU WIN OVER NO. 25 OKLAHOMA STATE

SALT LAKE -- In front of 16,285 screaming fans at the Delta Center, senior center Rafael Araujo pounded his way to a career-high performance, giving the Cougars (4-1) an exciting 76-71 win against No. 25 Oklahoma State (4-1). "I told them we needed to play perfect to win," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "We aren't going to say this is the highlight of the year. We deserve this opportunity to celebrate for a couple of days and learn from our win." Araujo took the second half into his own hands, scoring 26 of BYU's 40 points after halftime and finishing with 32 points. He also grabbed 17 rebounds, which tied his career-high. BYU pulled down an impressive 44 rebounds, while the Cowboys only finished with 18, just one more than Araujo's personal total. "This was the best rebounding effort during my time at BYU," Cleveland said. "Defensively they did the things they needed to do." In the last crucial minutes of the game, Araujo and senior guard Mark Bigelow combined for eight free throws, leading the Cougars past the Cowboys and holding them to only three points in the last three minutes. "I just liked the way we executed our last four or five possessions," Cleveland said. "We wanted to get into the post. We didn't have great movement but good spacing." Araujo began right after halftime, attacking the basket down low and scoring 16 of BYU's 18 points in just nine minutes of play. With a remarkable improvement from last year, he made his presence known by hitting jumpers and executing against Oklahoma State's defense. Former BYU player Daniel Bobik kept Oklahoma State alive as the leading scorer with 18 points and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Bobik, a junior guard from Newbury Park, Calif., battled head-to-head against former teammate Bigelow in front of a tough BYU crowd. Bigelow contributed a season-high 16 points and five rebounds, also nailing 8-of-8 free throws for the Cougars. Even at the Delta Center, the crowd played a major role in the momentum of the game. During the last minutes of the game, the entire crowd was on their feet giving the Cougars the lift they needed. "I think we really stepped up," Bigelow said. "The crowd gave us a little lift. The Marriott Center is no slouch in the amount of fans, but the fans were just right there for us tonight." The Cougars opened the first half with a pair of free throws from Araujo and Bobik hit a jumper for Oklahoma State to take the lead 4-2. Bigelow hit his first shot of the night with 15:30 left on the clock, giving BYU the lead at 10-6. Despite facing his old team, Bobik accepted the crowd's response with no hard feelings. "I expected the worst and hoped for the best -- I got the worst," Bobik said. "You expect the fans to get on the opposing team. I am glad they got on me, that shows they cared about me. If they didn't care, they wouldn't have said anything." Senior guard Kevin Woodberry then drained a three, giving the Cougars a 10-point lead at 18-8. Oklahome State then went on an 11-0 run, the longest scoring run allowed by the Cougars on the season. Hall sunk two free throws to stop the run with 9:48 on the clock, making it 20-21, and hit a three pointer with just over five minutes left. At halftime, Hall led with 10 points in just nine minutes of play. Araujo scored only six points in the first half and grabbed five rebounds going into halftime. With this win, Cleveland mentioned how playing at the Delta Center remains a definite option for the Cougars in the future.

BYU's LAST OUTING - COUGARS BUCK THE BRONCOS

PROVO -- A combo attack by shooting guards Mike Hall and Mike Rose delivered for the Cougars their first Division I win this year with a 90-77 victory over the Boise State Broncos, improving BYU's record to 2-5 for the year. Hall finished with 21 points to lead all Cougar scorers. Hall also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and dished out five assists. Rose's stifling shooting performance closely followed with 19 points, 18 of which were from beyond the arc. "This was a big win for this team," Cleveland said. "Mike Hall played a complete game that gave us a great spark." Three other Cougars scored in double figures with Austin Ainge scoring 14 points and adding five assists while Jared Jensen scored 13 points. Keena Young added 11 points and 8 rebounds on continual hustle plays that ignited the Cougars throughout the game. Early in the first half, the Broncos came out on fire against the Cougars, shooting over 80 percent from the field to keep the score close. The Broncos would soon cool down while the Cougars heated up mid-way through the first period. Ainge, who connected on two long three-pointers followed by a Hall trey, sparked the Cougars on a 13-0 run, giving them a 35-19 lead. The Broncos refused to give up as they fought back to only trail 31-39 at the half. Boise State came out hot in the second half, led by Franco Harris who hit three consecutive shots from beyond the arc to bring Boise State to within one. Rose would match Harris' hot hand by connecting on four of his own long bombs from beyond the arc to help the Cougars pull away. The Cougars connected on 11-21 (52.4 percent) three-point attempts to give BYU over 50 percent efficiency from beyond the arc in back-to-back games. On the defensive end, Hall shut down the Broncos leading scorer, Jermaine Blackburn, who was held to nine points. "I think Mike Hall did a wonderful job defending Blackburn," Cleveland said. "Because of the way they run, it's tough for our post players to keep up which puts a lot of pressure on our guards." The Broncos were carried by McNeal Thompson who had a game-high 22 points, shooting 5-10 from the three.

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.

BALDERSON MAKING PRESENCE KNOWN

Jimmy Balderson came out of a planned redshirt season last week and is scoring 10.3 points while shooting 47 percent on threes in his first three games. Last week he led a furious BYU comeback from 17 points down against USC to let the Cougars regain the lead late in the second half, scoring a career-high 22 points off the bench in a career-most 25 minutes. He made 5-of-8 threes and 6-of-12 shots overall while also leading the Cougars with a career-best four assists. His five treys was another career mark. He scored 6 points in 11 minutes in his season debut at Utah State, hitting 2-of-4 shots, including one triple. Said Balderson, "This has been the craziest week of my life. Last week I'm planning out my lifting schedule and then coach calls me in and all of a sudden I'm playing again. I'm much happier getting to play. Any basketball player doesn't like to sit and watch. I feel more confident and smarter than I did my freshman year. I'm ready to play and score some points."

LONG-RANGE ATTACK

BYU's 13 three-point shots made at USC was just one off the school record of 14. Sophomore Jimmy Balderson connected on five triples, sophomore Mike Rose made four, senior Mike Hall converted on three and sophomore Austin Ainge added one three against the Trojans. Against Boise State, the Cougars made 11 of their 21 three-point attempts, including six from Rose, two each from Hall and Ainge and one from Balderson. BYU has shot 52 percent from beyond the arc in each of the last two games after shooting below 40 percent in each of the first five games.

KEEPING TURNOVERS DOWN

BYU has taken better care of the ball after averaging 23 turnovers to only 6 assists in its first two outings this year. Over the last five games, the Cougars are averaging 14.8 turnovers and 14.2 assists.

ROTATING LINEUPS

Coach Cleveland has used six different line-ups in the first seven games of the season as several players have stepped up at various times. Cleveland went with experience the first two games of the year, starting seniors Terry Nashif, Jared Jensen and Mike Hall as well as sophomores Garner Meads and Mike Rose. However, since then, transfer Keena Young has started four games (two in place of an injured Meads), and sophomore point guard Austin Ainge, transfer Sam Burgess and sophomore Jimmy Balderson, who came out of his redshirt season at Utah State, have each started one game.

CURRENT BYU WIN/LOSS STREAKS ...

At home 1-0

On the road 0-2

On a neutral floor 1-0

At home vs. Nonconference 1-0

At home vs. MWC 12-0

On the road vs. Nonconference 0-3

On the road vs. MWC 3-0

On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 1-0

On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-1

at regular season tournament 1-0

at MWC Tournament 0-1

at NCAA Tournament 0-5

at NIT 0-1

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