Season Review -- Cougars Post Record 30 Wins, Advance in NCAA Tournament

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

A recording-setting regular season and a victory in the NCAA Tournament highlighted one of the most successful campaigns in BYU men’s basketball history.

The 2009-10 Cougars posted school records with 30 victories and an .833 winning percentage while defeating Florida 99-92 in a thrilling double-overtime game to advance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. Other firsts achieved in 2009-10 include earning a fourth-straight NCAA Tournament bid, winning 25-plus games for a fourth-straight season and being ranked in the top-25 for the fourth-straight season.

“This was a special year,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “It was a special year for me to be able to coach these guys, and I’m really, really proud of them. They deserve to be thought of as one of the great teams in BYU history.”

The season had extra meaning for Rose and his family as he was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor during the summer of 2009. After emergency surgery to remove his spleen and a portion of his pancreas, Rose made a full recovery, allowing him to return to coach the 2009-10 season.

After Jimmer Fredette’s scoring clinic at Arizona where he set BYU records with 49 points and nine threes, the Cougars entered the top-25 for the first time on Jan. 4. BYU was ranked as high as No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 12 in the AP Poll — the highest rankings since the 1987-88 season — and finished No. 17 in the AP and No. 22 in the Coaches Poll.

Other numbers that stood out during the season include a 5-0 start, a 15-game winning streak — the second-best in program history — and a 15-1 home record. The winning streak is second only to the 17-0 start in 1987-88 and the 15-1 home record marked the fourth in five seasons under Rose with one or zero home losses.

Despite failing to win the league regular season for the first time in four years, BYU finished 13-3 in the MWC to give the Cougars a fifth-straight season with at least 12 league victories under Rose. He is now 64-16 in MWC games, second all-time in league history in victories and first in winning percentage (.800). At 127-40, Rose is BYU’s all-time leader in winning percentage (.760) and is just the third Cougar coach to win at least 20 games in his first five seasons and leads all BYU coaches with four 25-win seasons.

Four Cougars earned All-MWC honors in 2009-10, with Fredette making the first team, Jackson Emery the second team and Tyler Haws and Jonathan Tavernari the third team. Tavernari was named the Sixth Man of the Year and Emery earned a spot on the all-defensive team. Fredette and Emery earned All-District honors from the United State Basketball Writers Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The USBWA named Fredette the District VIII Player of the Year.

Fredette also received multiple All-America honors, including second team from Basketball Times, third team from Sporting News and State Farm Coaches’ and honorable mention from the Associated Press. He also earned a spot on the Lute Olsen All-America team. In addition to the All-America, All-MWC and All-Districts, Fredette tied the league record by being named MWC Player of the Week five times and was named MVP of the HoopTV Las Vegas Classic and the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

For the season Fredette led the Cougars in scoring (22.1), assists (4.7) and three-point field goal percentage (.440). He was also second in threes (77) and free throw percentage. In the MWC, Fredette was ranked in the top 10 in eight categories and nationally he was seventh in scoring, 12th in free throw percentage and 69th in assists per game. In addition to his record-setting performance at Arizona, Fredette set an MWC Tournament record with 45 points against TCU in the quarterfinals and his 75-point total was also a record for most points by a single player in the tournament. He is now 11th at BYU in career points, fifth in career assists and third in career threes.

Emery established himself as one of the best defenders and deep threats in the MWC and program history. He set a program record and tied the MWC record with 91 steals and added 85 threes, tied for the second most in a season by a Cougar. With one season to play, Emery is fourth in team history with 148 steals and seventh in threes with 141. For the season he was second on the team in scoring (12.5), rebounding (4.5) and three-point percentage (.431) and first in steals and made threes (85).

Haws had one of the best freshman campaigns in BYU basketball history, averaging 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting .498 from the field, .368 from three and .917 from the free throw line — the second-best season free throw percentage in Cougar history and the best in MWC history. His 397 points rank fifth all-time among BYU freshman for points in a season and he set a Cougar record with 48-consecutive free throw attempts without a miss. The streak is still active and will continue when Haws returns to Provo in 2012 following a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Philippines.

In his first season as a starter, sophomore forward Noah Hartsock emerged as a reliable offense player and a legitimate shot blocker. For the season he averaged 6.5 points, a team-best 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game — third in the MWC. He demonstrated efficiency with his shot attempts, hitting .554 from the field and .864 from the free throw line. Hartsock posted double figures in scoring eight times, had a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) at Colorado State and averaged 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.

Senior Chris Miles started 35 of 36 games and concluded his career with 131 games played, tied for second all-time in BYU history. For the season he averaged 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting .521 from the field and .673 from the free throw line.

Led by Tavernari, BYU’s bench was as productive as any Cougar bench in recent memory, averaging 26.2 points and scoring 20-plus points 23 times. Tavernari adjusted quickly to his new role as sixth man after starting the previous two seasons. He concluded his career first at BYU in threes (265) and games played (132), third in steals (165) and 12th in points. He also finished his career as BYU’s all-time winningest player, having played in 103 victories. For the season he averaged 10.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting .387 from three and .814 from the free throw line.

Freshman forward/center Brandon Davies added 5.4 points and 3.0 boards while shooting .539 from the field. The Provo, Utah, native showed flashes of becoming a dominant offensive force as he posted six double figure games including a 21-point outburst at Utah. Charles Abouo made great strides in his sophomore season and averaged 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting .467 from the field and .407 from three. In addition to his impressive shooting numbers, Abouo established himself as an excellent man-to-man defender and rebounder from the guard position.

Backup point guards Lamont Morgan, Jr., and Michael Loyd, Jr., made valuable contributions as well. Morgan emerged as a team leader as he was voted a team captain prior to the season. He was also a consistent presence as a floor leader while shooting .633 from the field and .692 from three. Loyd provided a spark off the bench with his speed and ability to get to the basket. He averaged 5.1 points and shot .528 from the field and .422 from three. Loyd came up big with 19 points at home versus New Mexico, 18 points at Utah and a career-best 26 points in BYU’s NCAA Tournament victory against Florida.

Logan Magnusson, Brock Zylstra and James Anderson provided energy off the bench and played a valuable role on the scout team. Rose spoke highly of their ability to prepare the team for upcoming opponents and gave them credit for much of the team’s success.

The 2009-10 season started with a five-game winning streak that included a victory at Hawaii that proved to by Rose’s 100th victory as a head coach. The hot start also included home wins over Bradley, Idaho State, Southern and Weber State.

After falling at Utah State, the Cougars got back on track with a win over San Francisco at Energy Solutions Arena. That win was the first of 15 straight for BYU, the second-longest winning streak in school history. The winning streak included non-conference victories against Arizona State of the Pac 10, at Fresno State and former Cougar head man Steve Cleveland, at Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl Classic, at UTEP and a 5-0 start to MWC play. BYU also went 4-0 in the HoopTV Las Vegas Classic during the streak, defeating the likes of Nevada and Nebraska. The Cougars also entered the top 25 for the first time midway through the streak.

The perfect start to conference play and the 15-game winning streak came to an end at New Mexico where BYU fell in a tight contest. The Cougars rebounded with back-to-back home games, including a win over rival Utah in the Deseret First Duel. Nike outfitted BYU in pink shoes and uniforms with pink trim to raise cancer awareness for Coaches vs. Cancer.

The Cougars went back on the road and suffered another conference setback with a loss at UNLV. BYU responded with four-straight wins to position itself for a fourth-straight regular season title before running into a determined New Mexico team at the Marriott Center. After the loss to the Lobos, the Cougars were able to finish strong with wins at Utah and TCU and post a school record 28 regular season wins and 13 MWC wins, a fifth-straight season with at least 12 league victories.

BYU opened the postseason with a 95-85 win over TCU in the MWC Tournament. The Cougars’ run for the MWC Tournament title came to abrupt end in the semifinals as BYU fell to UNLV on the Rebels’ home court.

At 29-5 after the MWC Tournament, the Cougars received a bid to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed in the West Region, the program’s best seed since 1993 when they were also a No. 7 seed. BYU faced off with No. 10 seed Florida in the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Despite leading by 13 with 10 minutes remaining, BYU allowed Florida to rally and force overtime with the score tied at 75-all.

The game remained tied at 81-all after the first overtime but the Cougars took over in the second extra session. Fredette and Loyd combined to score 16 of BYU’s 18 points in the extra session to help the Cougars advance to the second round for the first time since 1993. BYU faced No. 2 seed Kansas State in the second round and fell 84-72.

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