GAME 9 - No. 20 BYU Faces No. 9 Michigan State Saturday

Senior Sam Burgess is shooting 50 percent from three-point range this season. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

BYU GAME #9 FAST FACTS

No. 20 BYU COUGARS (7-1)

vs.

No. 9 MICHIGAN STATE (7-1)

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007

EnergySolutions Arena (19,911)

Salt Lake City, Utah

2:07 p.m. MT

Coaches:

BYU, Dave Rose (52-19 in third season; same overall)

MSU, Tom Izzo (294-122 in 13th season; same overall)

Series:

Series tied, 4-4, including a 76-61 MSU win last year at the Spartan Clash in Detroit

TV:

BYUTV (Chris Twitty, play-by-play; Andy Toolson, game analysis),

KJZZ (David James, play-by-play; Thurl Bailey, game analysis)

Radio:

KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar?Sports Network (1 p.m. MT pregame show -- Greg Wrubell, play-by-play; Mark Durrant, game analysis)

Web:

Live audio and live stats links are available on the basketball schedule page at www.byucougars.com

NO. 20 BYU FACES NO. 9 MICHIGAN STATE IN SALT LAKE CITY

No. 20 BYU (7-1) will take on its third top-10 team in 15 days on Saturday when the Cougars face No. 9 Michigan State at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City at 2 p.m. The Cougars are 3-1 away from home this year, including a neutral court win over No. 6 Louisville and a neutral floor loss to No. 1 North Carolina. The ninth-ranked Spartans are also 7-1 on the year with their only loss coming against then-No. 1 UCLA. Michigan State is coming off a 66-61 win at Bradley on Tuesday. Saturday's game will be televised nationally on BYUTV and locally on KJZZ. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM out of Salt Lake City and on the Internet at KSL.com beginning with the pregame show at 1 p.m. MT.

UP NEXT

BYU will host Lamar on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The game will be televised on The Mtn.

COUGAR QUICK HITS

-- The Cougars' entrance into the national rankings last week marked the program's earliest appearance in the national polls since the 1980-81 season. With a ranking as high as No. 21 last year, BYU has now been ranked in back-to-back season for the first time since 1980-81 and 1981-82.

-- Two-time reigning 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.

-- BYU has been picked in the preseason poll to finish first in the MWC race this year by the league's media.

-- BYU currently owns the nation's second-longest active home win streak with 35 straight wins in the Marriott Center. The Cougars went 17-0 at home last year and are 4-0 at home this year.

-- This year's BYU squad returns two starters among seven lettermen from last year's outright league leaders (13-3 MWC record) as well as returned missionary Chris Miles, who made six starts as a freshman in 2004-05. Headlining BYU's top returners in 2007-08 are MWC Player of the Year candidate Trent Plaisted, a two-time All-MWC Second Team selection in his first two seasons; versatile junior guard Lee Cummard, who earned All-MWC Third Team honors one year ago; and sophomore sharpshooter Jonathan Tavernari, who followed Plaisted's lead the prior season by being named the MWC Freshman of the Year in his first campaign as a Cougar.

LOOKING AT MICHIGAN STATE

No. 9 Michigan State is 7-1 so far this season with its only loss coming against then-No. 1 UCLA. The Spartans have won four straight since the 68-63 setback, including a 66-61 win at Bradley on Tuesday in their only road game of the year. MSU is 1-1 this year on a neutral court. All five starters return from last year's team that went 23-12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are led by forward Raymar Morgan with 17.6 points per game on 60.8 percent shooting from the field. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is second on the team in rebounds with 7.9 per game. Senior guard Drew Neitzel is second for the Spartans in scoring with 14.1 ppg while posting 5.0 assists per game and a 5.0 assist/turnover ratio. Junior center Goran Suton paces Michigan State with 8.5 boards per game, including 11 against Bradley, and ranks third on the team in scoring at 8.9 ppg. The 6-foot-10, 245-pounder has also tallied a team-high 10 blocks and 10 steals. Junior forward Marquise Gray shoots a team-best 70.3 percent shooting mark from the field while averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 boards per contest. As a team, the Spartans are averaging 77.5 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting from the field, including 36.5 percent efficiency from three-point range. MSU opponents are tallying 63.8 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting from the floor. The Spartans outrebound their foes, 41.6-30.1. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is 294-122 in his 13th season with the program.

MICHIGAN STATE'S PROBABLE STARTERS

Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG Hometown

F 02 Raymar Morgan 6-7 220 So. 17.6 7.9 Canton, Ohio

F 41 Marquise Gray 6-8 235 Jr. 7.8 5.3 Flint, Mich.

C 14 Goran Suton 6-10 245 Jr. 8.9 8.5 Lansing, Mich.

G 05 Travis Walton 6-2 195 Jr. 3.0 1.4 Lima, Ohio

G 11 Drew Neitzel 6-0 180 Sr. 14.1 2.5 Grand Rapids, Mich.

MICHIGAN STATE'S LAST?OUTING -- SPARTANS SURVIVE BRADLEY RUN

PEORIA -- Drew Neitzel figured this would be a difficult night for Michigan State. Luckily for the Spartans, he heated up just in time. Neitzel's clutch 3-pointer started an important run, Raymar Morgan scored 15 and the ninth-ranked Spartans beat Bradley 66-61 on Tuesday night. "This is huge for us," Neitzel said. "We knew there were going to be some ups and downs with the crowd getting into it, but we kept fighting it and made a comeback there at the end." Michigan State (7-1) trailed by nine in the second half but Neitzel came through in the latter stages after struggling for most of the game. His 3 with just under 5 minutes left cut it to 51-50 and started a 7-0 surge that put the Spartans ahead for good, 54-51. Drew Naymick had a big rebound dunk and Kalin Lucas also scored during the run. It was 59-55 after Morgan whipped a pass across the paint to Goran Suton for a layup with 1:46 left, but the drama was far from over. Neitzel was unable to get a shot off in time, resulting in a shot-clock violation with 55 seconds left. Then, after a miss by Bradley's Jeremy Crouch, Neitzel made one of two free throws to make it a five-point game with 45 seconds left. Bradley (6-3) got within three, but Neitzel hit two more free throws to make it 64-59 with 16 seconds remaining. That ended the Braves' upset bid and quieted what had been a raucous crowd. Neitzel and Lucas finished with 13 points apiece. "It was a huge win for us," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "I did not think we played great." But the Spartans did dominate in one area: rebounding. They owned a 48-29 edge on the boards, allowing them to win on a night when they shot 40.7 percent. "It was tough," Neitzel said of the comeback win over the Braves. "The crowd was really into it. They were standing most of the game and they were together. You've got to give Bradley credit. They were ready for the game. They played a great game."

SERIES NOTES

The Spartans and Cougars have met eight times in the history of the series dating back to 1930 with the series tied at 4-4. The Cougars are 3-0 in Provo, 0-3 at Michigan State and 1-1 on a neutral court. After losing the first two games in the series, BYU won three straight from 1959-1980 before dropping two of the last three, including a 76-61 loss against the 25th-ranked Spartans last season at the Spartan Clash in Detroit. BYU's only neutral court win came in the prior meeting between the two teams as the Cougars picked up a 96-88 victory at the Cable Car Classic on Dec. 29, 1986.

BYU VS. THE BIG 10

Michigan State is the only Big Ten team on the Cougars' regular-season schedule. BYU has a 14-23 all-time record against Big Ten schools with the most meetings coming against the Spartans (eight). Prior to last year's game against MSU, the Cougars had not played a Big Ten team since Dec. 29, 1997 -- a 72-65 win over Ohio State in Honolulu. BYU also played Penn State on Dec. 2 of that season.

BYU's LAST OUTING VS. MICHIGAN STATE -- COUGARS FALL TO NO. 25 SPARTANS

AUBURN HILLS -- Despite a career performance from Trent Plaisted, BYU did not have enough to knock off No. 25 Michigan State Saturday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, falling 76-61 to the Spartans. The loss drops the Cougars to 5-3 on the year, while MSU improves to 9-2. Plaisted led all scorers with a career-high 23 points, marking back-to-back games in which he has scored at least 20. Plaisted, who went 8-for-12 from the field after making his first eight shots, also paced the Cougars with seven rebounds. Lee Cummard was the only other Cougar to score in double figures with 10 points as he reached double digits for the third straight game. Austin Ainge dished out a team-high five assists, tying his season high. Both teams came out fighting, trading baskets early. With BYU leading 6-4, Cummard ignited a BYU fastbreak with a steal that forced MSU's Goran Suton to foul Rashaun Broadus going up for the shot. The momentum swung back to the Spartans, however, as MSU followed up two Cougar misses at the line with an 8-0 run to take a 12-6 advantage at the 13:09 mark. Jimmy Balderson came off the bench and ended the 4:27 Cougar scoring drought with a three-point make. MSU responded with its second dunk of the game on the other end to push the lead to 14-9. Plaisted put in a turnaround jumper to get the Cougars within three at 14-11 but picked up his second foul on the ensuing Spartan possession and was forced to join Young on the bench as BYU's top two scorers found themselves in foul trouble early. MSU capitalized on the opportunity to take a 25-16 lead. After returning to the game, Plaisted then came alive for the Cougars, making 4-of-6 free throws during three consecutive trips to the line and draining two shots to cut the MSU lead to two points at 28-26. The Spartans answered with a 6-1 spurt of their own to once again push the lead up to seven points at 34-27 with under a minute to play in the half. Jonathan Tavernari refused to let MSU pull away, draining a three-pointer to cut the lead to four, but the Spartans converted as the clock wound down to take a 36-30 advantage into the locker room at the break. BYU began the second half by hitting its first five shots from the floor as four different Cougars scored in the first 2:40, including buckets from Plaisted, Ainge, Broadus and Cummard. But the Spartans answered every Cougar make with a make of their own, including two threes, to increase the lead to 48-40 with 16:11 to play. MSU then increased the margin to 52-40 with 14:26 mark, prompting Rose to take a timeout. Ainge ended the BYU scoring drought with a three-pointer, but four more Spartan points increased their lead to 56-43 thanks to an 11-3 run. Plaisted made back-to-back trips to the line, making 3-of-4, and then scored a short jumper in the lane after an MSU three-pointer to surpass his previous career high in scoring with 23 points. BYU continued to trail by double-digits until a jumper from Cummard got the Spartan lead under 10 points at 61-52 with 8:35 left to play. However, another MSU dunk pushed the lead back to 11 points and the Cougars would get no closer over the final six minutes. Cummard jumped a three at the 5:51 mark to get into double figures for the third straight game with 10 points, but his night came to an end on the other end as he picked up his fifth foul with more than five minutes remaining. A fifth Spartan dunk increased the lead to 71-55 as the Cougars continued to struggle shooting. BYU made just four shots in the final 8:34 of the game as the Spartans ran away with the 76-61 win.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "We had a lot of chances in this game. There were big possessions where if we could've gotten a stop, made a basket or made a free throw, it would've changed the complexion of game. Sometimes we were playing as the aggressors, but for the most part they had us back on our heels."

-- "Michigan State is a really good ball control, half-court team. They don't make a lot of mistakes. We executed really well to take them out of their game, but they found other guys and got the big plays."

-- "Trent (Plaisted) played really, really well. He gave us a solid 40 minutes. It was a big plus for us and for him, especially playing against physical post guys who know how to guard."

Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo

-- "I think our guys are pretty drained having played 11 games in 30 days and I think it's taken a little bit of a toll. I didn't feel we were nearly as sharp in any aspect of the game and BYU deserves some credit for that."

-- "The way I look at it in the end is if we can shoot that poorly from the free-throw line, our guards not play as well as I thought they have cerebrally, and overcoming Joseph's injury against a quality team," Izzo said, "I think we should feel pretty good about it. Finding a way to win is the mark of a good team when key players don't play as well. So I think we took a step in the right direction in that respect."

BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING

-- BYU head coach Dave Rose once again started point guards Rashaun Broadus and Austin Ainge together, rounding out the starting lineup with Lee Cummard, Keena Young and Trent Plaisted. Cummard and Young have started every game this season.

-- Individual Career Highs: Trent Plaisted - 23 points, 37 minutes; Jonathan Tavernari -- 5 points.

-- With the loss vs. No. 25 Michigan State, two of the three Cougar losses this season have come against ranked teams, including an 82-69 setback at then-No. 5 UCLA who is now ranked No. 1 in the nation. BYU has not defeated a ranked team since a 76-71 win on Dec. 6, 2003 against Oklahoma State in the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.

-- BYU's 76-61 loss against the Spartans marked the first time in six games that an MSU opponent has scored 60 points.

-- The Cougars' 36-30 halftime deficit marked just the second time this season BYU has trailed at the break. BYU also trailed at Boise State. The Cougars lost both games.

-- Trent Plaisted's career-high 23 points marks the second time this season and the fifth time in his career that he has surpassed the 20-point mark. Plaisted did not miss a shot until the 10:28 mark in the second half, making his first eight shots from the floor. His 14 first-half points marked his highest scoring output in a half this season. It was also the second time this year he has scored in double digits before the break, including 12 first-half points against Southern Utah.

-- With 10 points against MSU, Lee Cummard has now scored in double figures in three straight games and four times overall this season. Cummard reached double-digit points in two games last year.

-- BYU shot a season-low 41.8 percent from the field and still became only the second team among the 11 Spartan opponents this year to reach 40 percent shooting against Michigan State. Maryland (.548) is the other. MSU has held four opponents below 30 percent shooting this year.

- Michigan State had a plus-7 rebound margin against BYU, 41-34. The Spartans have out-rebounded 10 of their first 11 opponents. BYU is 5-0 this year when winning the battle of the boards and 0-3 when being outrebounded.

- With its victory over BYU, Michigan State improved its record to 3-1 in Spartan Clash history, including three-straight wins. The Spartans are now 7-2 all-time in games played at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

- MSU's Drew Neitzel posted his fifth 20-point effort of the season, netting 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the floor including 3-of-9 from 3-point range. Neitzel played a near-perfect floor game, matching his season high with seven assists while playing 38 minutes without committing a turnover.

BYU NOTES

BYU'S LAST OUTING - PLAISTED DOMINATES, BYU WINS 35TH AT HOME

PROVO -- Playing in front of its home crowd for the first time in two weeks, the No. 20 BYU men's basketball team defeated in-state foe Weber State 72-57 on Wednesday. With the win, the Cougars improve to 7-1 on the season and extend the nation's second-longest home winning streak to 35 games. Senior Sam Burgess led all scorers with 16 points, while Lee Cummard, Trent Plaisted and Jonathan Tavernari scored 14 points apiece for BYU. Plaisted also secured a game-high 15 rebounds, marking his third double-double of the season and 12th of his career. The junior is the only Cougar to have scored in double figures in every game this season. Early turnovers committed by both teams kept points off the scoreboard until a Weber State field goal with 18:33 to play in the first half for its only lead of the game. Two made free throws by Plaisted and a three-pointer by Sam Burgess helped spark a 10-2 run, giving the Cougars a 10-4 lead. Burgess exhibited strong play on the opposite side of the ball, recording a steal which gave possession back to BYU. Plaisted recorded his first block of the night on the Wildcats' subsequent drive. Weber State would come to within three points after an NBA-range three-pointer by Kellen McCoy. BYU wasn't willing to relinquish its lead, however, with back-to-back makes from behind-the-arc by Michael Loyd, Jr. and Tavernari with just over seven minutes to play in the first half. After two made free throws by Cummard, the Cougars would go 2:30 without scoring until a running lay-in by Tavernari to bring the score to 28-16. Ben Murdock scored his first field goal of the game with 3:24 remaining before the break. With a 42-21 lead heading into halftime, BYU has now led at the half in seven of eight games this year, going 7-0 in those contests and outscoring opponents by an average of 14.0 points in the first half. Plaisted dominated on defense, recording 10 rebounds and three blocks to end the half. As a team, BYU went 12-for-15 from the charity stripe, while the Wildcats were 0-for-0. To begin the second half, Plaisted denied two more Weber State shots and scored the Cougars' first six points of the half, including a one-handed dunk with 14:07 to play in the game. Deciding to get in on the blocking action himself, Tavernari recorded his third rejection of the season with 12:35 on the clock. He followed on the other end of the floor with a three-pointer, putting BYU up 50-32. With just over nine minutes to play, Plaisted was charged with two quick personal fouls. Burgess recorded his second steal on the night, and after a missed ally-oop by Loyd, a put-back by Chris Collinsworth allowed the Cougars to capitalize off Weber State's turnover.

WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose

-- "I was really pleased with our captains tonight. They gave us great leadership. Trent (Plaisted) was phenomenal, Lee (Cummard) was steady and Sam (Burgess) gave us a big boost in energy in the second half."

-- "The in-state games have a whole different feel. Defensively it is more aggressive and a faster pace. Because of that, these in-state games are good to play."

-- "We are really excited for Saturday's game. Last year we got spanked when we played at their place. The most important thing is that they are a very good team, and that will help us prepare for our upcoming conference schedule."

Weber State Head Coach Randy Rahe

-- "I was very impressed with their team. They played with a lot of energy and a lot of confidence."

-- "I though our kids battled very hard. We struggled through the first half, but we came out in the second half and played hard and stayed together."

-- "We saw a really good basketball team. There is a reason that they are ranked 20th."

BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING

-- BYU head coach Dave Rose has used the same starting lineup in BYU's first eight games, calling on Ben Murdock, Sam Burgess, Lee Cummard, Jonathan Tavernari and Trent Plaisted to begin the game.

-- Individual Season Highs: Trent Plaisted -- five blocks (career high is six)

-- The 72-57 Cougar victory extended BYU's home win streak to 35 games dating back to Nov. 18, 2005. The streak is the second-longest active home win streak in the nation, one game behind No. 2 Memphis at 36.

-- With the win, BYU is now 133-55 all-time as a ranked team, including a 5-3 mark under head coach Dave Rose.

-- Plaisted's 10 first-half boards mark the second time this season that he has recorded 10 rebounds in a single half. The first came against No. 1 North Carolina when he brought down 11 in the first half. It was the 12th time in his career he has posted double-digit rebounds and the third of the season, already matching last year's total.

-- Plaisted recorded his third double-double of the season and 12th of his career. He is also the only Cougar to score in double figures in every game this season.

-- At 7-1 so far this year, BYU is off to its best start through eight games since 2002-03 when the Cougars also posted a 7-1 record after eight contests.

-- With the 72-57 win, BYU is now 7-0 when scoring at least 70 points and 5-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark.

-- The Cougars are also now 6-1 when outrebounding opponents after a 43-37 advantage against the Wildcats.

-- The Cougars have now led at halftime in seven of eight games this year, going 7-0 in those contests and outscoring opponents by an average of 13.9 points in the first half. BYU's 42-21 lead against Weber State marked the Cougars' sixth double-digit halftime lead this season.

-- BYU has held all eight of its opponents this year under 40 points in the first half. The 21 points scored by Weber State in the first half is tied for the second-fewest given up by the Cougars in the first half this year (21 at Portland and 12 at LBSU).

-- The Cougars have led their opponents by at least 20 points in six games this year.

BYU ENTERS NATIONAL RANKINGS

The BYU men's basketball team entered the national rankings last Monday, earning the program's earliest appearance in the national polls since the 1980-81 season. BYU was ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll. In this week's poll, BYU is ranked 20th and 22nd, respectively.

"(The ranking) is something we can build on," said BYU coach Dave Rose, the two-time Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year who has guided the Cougars to back-to-back 20-win seasons in his first two years. "We have a lot of work to do and need to keep improving as a team to get ready for the Mountain West Conference season."

In his third year guiding the program, Rose has seen his team earn the respect of the national voters for the second consecutive season. Last year, BYU entered the polls on Feb. 19 to receive the program's first national ranking since 1993. BYU finished last year ranked No. 24 in the final AP Poll, something a Cougar team had not accomplished since 1988.

BYU has now been ranked in back-to-back season for the first time since 1980-81 and 1981-82. This week's entry into the national rankings marks the earliest the Cougars have been included in the polls since receiving a No. 18 ranking in the 1980-81 AP preseason poll. It also marks the first time BYU's football and men's basketball teams have been nationally ranked the same week in the AP poll since Dec. 28, 1992.

The Cougar basketball program has now been ranked in the AP Poll during 16 seasons since its first national ranking in 1950-51 (see list below).

SEASONS BYU HAS BEEN RANKED IN THE AP POLL

SEASON HIGHEST RANKING

1950-51 11

1952-53 19

1955-56 5

1964-65 9

1965-66 6

1966-67 7

1970-71 20

1971-72 6

1972-73 12

1979-80 12

1980-81 15

1981-82 15

1987-88 3

1992-93 21

2006-07 21

2007-08 20

VS. RANKED TEAMS

BYU's victory over No. 6 Louisville marked the highest-ranked team the Cougars have defeated since beating No. 2 St. Joseph's, 103-83, on Dec. 21, 1965. BYU is now 50-110 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll and 1-1 this season including a 73-63 loss to No. 1 North Carolina in the championship game of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational. Prior to that game, the Cougars had not faced the nation's top-ranked team since Dec. 23, 1992, an 89-66 loss to No. 1 Duke at the Maui Invitational. The Cougars were 3-3 in their games vs. ranked teams last year with a 78-70 loss at then-No. 25 and evential Sweet-16 participant UNLV in the MWC Tournament Championship game, a 62-58 victory at then-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 St.

PLAYING THE BEST

The Cougars' game against No. 9 Michigan State on Saturday will be their third game in the last three weeks against a top-10 opponent, including a victory over No. 6 Louisville on Nov. 23 and a loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Nov. 24. BYU has played at least three regular-season games against top-10 opponents in a season just six times previously in program history with the last coming in 1983-84. Only twice previously have the Cougars played three top-10 teams during a three-week stretch, once in 1990-91 with a loss to No. 9 Utah on March 2, a win over No. 8 Utah on March 9 in the WAC Tournament and a loss to No. 8 Arizona on March 16 in the NCAA Tournament and once in 1980-81 with a victory over No. 9 Utah on March 7 in the WAC Tournament, a win over No. 10 UCLA on March 14 in the NCAA Tournament, a victory over No. 7 Notre Dame on March 19 in the NCAA Tournament and a loss to No. 5 Virginia on March 21 in the NCAA Tournament.

RANKED VS. RANKED

BYU is 9-15 all-time when playing as a ranked team against a ranked team with the most recent game being a 78-70 loss at UNLV in last year's Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship game. The Cougars were ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll entering the game and faced the 25th-ranked Rebels.

WORTHY OF MENTION

- Plaisted has scored at least 20 points in three of the last six games, including 21 points against No. 6 Louisville and a season-high 24 points against No. 1 North Carolina. Cummard recorded his third career 20-point game and first of the season with 20 points against Hartford.

- Plaisted has scored in double figures in all eight games for BYU this season.

- Cummard became the first Cougar to record a double-double this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Idaho State, the fourth double-double of his career. Plaisted added his first of the year and 10th of his career with 21 points and 12 rebounds against No. 6 Louisville before posting 24 points and 17 rebounds against No. 1 North Carolina. He recorded his third of the season on Wednesday against Weber State with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

- Senior point guard Ben Murdock has 41 assists and only nine turnovers in his first eight starting assignments at the Division I level, leading the Mountain West Conference in assists per game (5.1) and ranking fifth in assist/turnover ratio (4.6). Against Portland, he dished out a personal-best 10 assists with only two turnovers, the fifth time this year he has dished out at least five assists.

- BYU is averaging 81.5 ppg and allowing 621 ppg. BYU leads all MWC teams in scoring, scoring margin (+19.4), field-goal percentage defense (.371), rebounding margin (+9.1) and defensive rebounds (30.6).

- BYU has led at the half in seven of eight games this season, including six double-digit leads. The Cougars' only deficit came when they trailed 38-31 against No. 1 North Carolina. The Cougars are outscoring opponents by 13.9 points in the first period of play.

DEFENDING THE HOME COURT

With 35 straight wins in the Marriott Center, the Cougars currently own the nation's second-longest active home victory streak. The Cougars are 4-0 at home this year and won 17 home games last season after going 14-1 at home in 2005-06. BYU's last home loss was in the 2005-06 season opener against Loyola Marymount. BYU?has since won 19 straight over nonconference opponents and 16 consecutive over MWC foes since losing its season finale in 2005 to UNLV. BYU?is 406-116 (.777) all-time in the Marriott Center. The Cougars' longest home winning streak came from Feb 19, 2000 to Jan 16, 2003 when BYU won 44 straight in the Marriott Center.

Active Homecourt Winning Streaks (As of Dec. 6, 2007)

Wins Team This year Next home game

36 Memphis 4-0 Dec. 22 vs. Georgetown

35 BYU 4-0 Dec. 12 vs. Lamar

ON THE ROAD

The Cougars are 2-0 in true road games this year. With a 1-1 record on neutral courts, BYU is now 3-1 this season away from home. BYU won five of its last seven games on the road last season including a win at then-No. 20 Air Force (62-58), snapping the Falcons' 30-game home winning streak. BYU was 6-7 on the road last year and 5-3 in conference play, becoming the only Mountain West Conference team with a winning record on the road in league play last year.

MAGIC NUMBER: 70

BYU is now 7-0 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 5-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark while averaging 81.5 points per game and allowing just 62.1 ppg. The Cougars have scored 90 or more points in three of their eight games this season, reaching 100 against Jackson State. Last year the Cougars scored an MWC-leading 78.1 points and allowed 69.0 points. BYU?was 20-0 when opponents scored less than 70 points and 23-6 when it scored 70 or more points. With its scoring output, BYU?recorded its highest scoring average since 1996 (82.3 ppg) and highest scoring margin since 1993 (also +9.1).

CLEANING THE GLASS

BYU has won the battle of the boards in seven of eight games this year with the only deficit coming against No. 6 Louisville (39-37). The Cougars posted a +4 (43-39) rebounding margin against No. 1 North Carolina. BYU is besting opponents by an average of 9.1 boards per contest, leading the MWC. The Cougars posted a season-high +19 rebounding margin (38-19) against Hartford as four Cougars pulled down at least five rebounds. BYU began the season with a 55-40 rebounding advantage at Long Beach State, matching last year's season high of 55 boards against Seton Hall.

BALANCED SCORING

BYU has had five players score in double figures in a game three times this season, already matching last year's total of three games in which at least five players reached double digits. Four different Cougars have led the team in scoring this year through the first seven games with Lee Cummard pacing BYU three times, Trent Plaisted and Sam Burgess twice each and Jonathan Tavernari once. Team-high rebounding has been shared by four players through seven games while three different Cougars have led the team in assists.

HOT START

The Cougars won their first five games to begin the 2007-08 season before falling against No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday, equaling their best start since 2002-03 when BYU won its first five games before falling on Dec. 7 at Creighton. The Cougars' 7-1 start this year is their best start through eight games since 2003-04 when BYU was also 7-1 through eight contests. The Cougars have won in dominant fashion this season, besting opponents by an average of 19.4 points per game while scoring 81.5 ppg and allowing only 62.1 points per contest.

FROM DOWNTOWN

After setting a program record with 256 three-pointers last season, the Cougars have recorded 68 makes from long range so far this season. BYU has posted double-digit three-pointers in a game twice this year with 12 against Long Beach State and 13 against Hartford, marking just the sixth time in program history that the Cougars have posted at least 13 threes in a game including a record 15 against UNLV last season. BYU is shooting 39.3 percent from beyond the arc this year and has shot at least 40 percent in four games, including a season high 59.1 percent efficiency against the Hawks (13-for-22). BYU shot above 40 percent from behind the arc 18 times on the year, including 12 of the last 15 games, and made at least 10 treys in a game on seven occasions.

FANTASTIC FRESHMEN

Four Cougar freshman are making an impact this year as Chris Collinsworth, Jimmer Fredette, Michael Loyd, Jr. and Nick Martineau have made their respective BYU debuts with results that bode well for the future. All four saw their first action in the Cougars' season opener at Long Beach State as Fredette and Collinsworth led the newcomers in scoring with nine points each. Fredette tallied 10 points vs. Idaho State, and Loyd scored 15 points against Jackson State while Collinsworth pulled down 10 boards against the Tigers. Fredette then made noise against Hartford with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, including making 4-of-5 from three-point range, while posting a perfect 3-for-3 mark from the free-throw line and tying his career high with four steals in 19 minutes. On the year, Fredette is tied for sixth in the Mountain West Conference in steals with teammate Jonathan Tavernari while Chris Collinsworth is tied for 11th in defensive rebounds per game.

FOR STARTERS

Cougar head coach Dave Rose has used the same starting lineup in each of BYU's first eight games, electing to use two seniors in Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess, returning All-Mountain West Conference selections Trent Plaisted and Lee Cummard, both juniors, and 2007 MWC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Tavernari to begin the game. Cummard started all 34 games last season, and Plaisted made 33 starts. Burgess made one start as a sophomore in 2004-05 while Murdock and Tavernari each earned their first career starts against Long Beach State. Rose used the same starting rotation in both of the Cougars' two exhibition games.

WINNING BIG

The Cougars' seven victories this year have come by an average margin of 23.6 points, including a 15-point triumph over Weber State (72-57), a 14-point victory at Portland (78-54), a two-point win over No. 6 Louisville, a 24-point triumph over Hartford (97-73), a 39-point win over Jackson Sate (100-61), a 21-point victory over Idaho State (90-69) and a 40-point win at Long Beach State (74-34). The win over the 49ers marked BYU's largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent since defeating Morgan State by 41 points (110-69) on Dec. 28, 1995. Including a 10-point loss to No. 1 North Carolina, the Cougars are still besting opponents by 19.4 points per game this year. BYU won 17 games by double-digits last year, including seven by 20 or more points, and was the only team in the Mountain West Conference to not have a regular-season game decided by less than four points. With an average scoring margin of +9.1 last season, the Cougars posted their largest margin of victory since 1993 over the course of the year.

ON FIRE

BYU is shooting 48.6 percent from the field this season while allowing opponents to shoot just 37.1 percent from the floor. The Cougars posted a season-high 60.4 percent efficiency against Hartford bolstered by a 63.6 percent second-half shooting mark (14-for-22). BYU had shot above 50 percent in each of the last six halves of play prior to shooting just 39.4 percent in the first half against No. 6 Louisville. BYU rebounded, however, to shoot 50 percent in the second half of its win over the Cardinals. The Cougars shot a season-high 65.2 percent in the second half at Portland on Saturday, making their first seven shots of the period. Individually, three Cougars rank among the top 10 in the Mountain West Conference in field-goal percentage as Trent Plaisted ranks second shooting 58.6 percent on the year, Lee Cummard is third at 56.8 percent and Jonathan Tavernari comes in ninth at 41.3 percent with a minimum of five shots made per game.

HALFTIME REPORT

The Cougars are 7-0 this season when leading at the half with six of the seven advantages coming by double digits. No. 1 North Carolina was the first team this season to post a halftime lead against BYU with a 38-31 advantage at the break. The Cougars are besting opponents by an average of 13.9 points in the first period of play after while scoring at least 40 points in the first half of five of eight games this season. BYU has topped the 50-point mark in the second half twice this year. The Cougars put together strong defensive starts in their first four games, holding all four opponents under 30 points at the break before No. 6 Louisville scored 37 in the first half to trail 41-37 at halftime. The BYU defense kept Long Beach State and Idaho State under 30 points, under 30 percent shooting from the field and under 10 field goals made in the first 20 minutes. The Cougars' 36-12 lead at the break in Long Beach marked their largest halftime advantage since being up by 28 points (51-23) against Western Oregon on Dec. 22, 2006. The 12 points given up by BYU in the first 20 minutes of the game at LBSU marked the fewest points allowed in a half by the Cougars since allowing a record-low 10 points against Air Force in 2003.

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