500 E University Parkway Provo UT 84604
PROVO -- Coming off their huge upset over Stanford, the BYU Cougars did just enough to beat Cal State Northridge 84-70. The victory extended BYU's win streak to six games, tying the longest in head coach Steve Cleveland's tenure, and extended their home-winning streak to 26 games, a BYU record.
Mark Bigelow had a game high 27 points for the Cougars. Bigelow had 17 in the first half, matching the output of the rest of the team for the first 20 minutes. But while Bigelow led the Cougars, Cleveland was not impressed with BYU's overall play.
"Mark was pretty solid all night long, but we were just inconsistent," Cleveland said. "Maybe their minds were still in Las Vegas or on Christmas, but it was apparent to me that this was not the same basketball team that played nine games."
BYU now has an 8-2 record, matching its start from the 1999-2000 season. In that season, the Cougars went on to start 12-2. BYU controlled the game throughout, holding a double-digit lead for most of the second half. BYU used a 10-0 run early in both halves to take commanding leads, but the Matadors kept the game close enough to keep most of BYU's starters in the game.
"I credit Northridge," Cleveleand said. "Northridge came in out-manned and undersized, but played harder than we did for a full 40 minutes.
Daniel Bobik played another strong offensive game, tying his career high with 17 points. He also hit all eight of his free throw attempts to give him 20 consecutive makes from the free throw line. Freshman Jared Jensen recorded his first double-double of his collegiate career. He tied his career high of 10 rebounds and poured in 13 points to give the Cougars a great inside presence.
The Cougars held the Matadors to only 24 points in the first half and took a 10-point lead into the locker room as both teams struggled from the floor. It was a different story in the next half though, as both teams lit up the scoreboard. BYU held a slight edge in the second half, 50-46.
"In the second half, we just didn't guard and that was disappointing to me," Cleveland said.
Eric Nielsen, who had a career-high 29 points in the win over Stanford, only scored five points while taking only seven shots. Matt Montague, playing with a broken nose, chipped in with a season-high seven rebounds, six points and four assists.
"We will really have to have a good practice tomorrow to get regrouped and refocused," Cleveland said.
BYU will play the last game of the calendar year Saturday at 4 p.m. against Southern Utah. The Cougars look to extend both their six-game overall and 26-game home winning streaks.
- BYU now has a six-game winning streak, tying the longest streak in the coach Cleveland era. BYU had a six-game winning streak last season as well.
- Mark Bigelow had 17 points in the first half, his most in the first half this season. He also had 17 points in the second half of the Arizona State game, in which he scored 31 points. He finished this game with 27 points.
- The BYU home winning streak now stands at 26 games, a home winning streak record. The previous record was 24 games.
- BYU's 8-2 start is its best since the 1999-2000 season. In that season, the Cougars started out 12-2.
- Cal State Northridge played without two regular players. Both Matadors were sitting out one-game suspensions.
- Daniel Bobik has now made 20 straight free throws. The all-time BYU record is 32, by Michael Smith. Bobik hasn't missed a free throw since the Arizona State game. He also tied his career high in points with 17. Bobik has scored in double digits the last three games, 17 against Idaho, 10 against Stanford and now 17 again.
- Freshman Jared Jensen pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds. He also had 10 rebounds against Creighton. Together with 13 points, Jensen completed his first double-double of the season.
- Matt Montague tied his season high in rebounds with seven. He also had seven in the upset victory over Stanford.
Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS
Cal State Northridge vs BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars
12/27/01 7:05 at Marriott Center, Provo, Utah
VISITORS: Cal State Northridge 2-8
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
10 BENJAMIN, Lionel.... f 3-7 0-0 2-5 2 7 9 0 8 1 4 0 1 29
31 BOYLAN, Ian......... f 0-7 0-4 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 22
44 READ, Dan........... c 3-5 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 5 7 1 2 0 0 26
05 ESTAVAN, Ed......... g 5-13 4-11 2-2 0 1 1 4 16 6 0 0 1 33
12 CARR, Markus........ g 8-13 0-3 4-5 0 2 2 4 20 3 2 0 2 28
03 SCOTT, Michael...... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 1
20 FRAZIER, Joseph..... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 4
21 WELCH, Jermar....... 1-4 0-0 2-3 2 4 6 3 4 0 2 0 0 23
23 JOHNSON, Tony....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
25 MYVETT, Gene........ 1-3 0-0 1-2 1 1 2 4 3 1 0 0 1 15
33 SLAUGHTER, Curtis... 3-5 2-3 0-0 1 3 4 1 8 1 4 0 1 17
TEAM................ 1 4 5
Totals.............. 26-59 7-22 11-17 7 25 32 24 70 14 15 0 8 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-27 33.3% 2nd Half: 17-32 53.1% Game: 44.1% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-12 25.0% 2nd Half: 4-10 40.0% Game: 31.8% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 3-4 75.0% 2nd Half: 8-13 61.5% Game: 64.7% 3
HOME TEAM: BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars 8-2
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
03 BIGELOW, Mark....... f 10-20 4-10 3-4 0 2 2 0 27 1 2 0 0 35
25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 2-7 0-0 1-1 0 6 6 3 5 0 0 0 0 34
52 JENSEN, Jared....... c 5-6 0-0 3-4 6 4 10 4 13 1 1 1 2 25
02 HANSEN, Travis...... g 2-8 0-2 7-8 1 3 4 3 11 1 1 0 0 26
31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... g 2-4 0-1 2-3 0 7 7 1 6 4 3 0 2 35
04 PINEGAR, Jesse...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
10 NASHIF, Terry....... 0-1 0-1 3-6 0 2 2 0 3 1 1 0 1 5
20 BOBIK, Daniel....... 4-9 1-4 8-8 1 3 4 1 17 4 4 0 3 23
22 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
32 JEPSEN, Bart........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
40 HOWARD, Dan......... 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 3
42 CARLISLE, Jon....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
TEAM................ 1 2 3
Totals.............. 25-55 5-18 29-36 10 29 39 16 84 12 12 1 8 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-31 41.9% 2nd Half: 12-24 50.0% Game: 45.5% DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-11 36.4% 2nd Half: 1-7 14.3% Game: 27.8% REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 4-6 66.7% 2nd Half: 25-30 83.3% Game: 80.6% 2
Officials: Mark Reischling, Ronnie Hernandez, Kelly Self
Technical fouls: Cal State Northridge-None. BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars-None.
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Cal State Northridge.......... 24 46 - 70
BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars......... 34 50 - 84
After upsetting No. 13 Stanford at the Las Vegas Showdown Saturday, BYU (7-2) returns to Provo to host Cal State Northridge (2-7) Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center. BYU will then host Southern Utah (3-8) Saturday at 4 p.m. Neither game is being televised. The live radio broadcasts can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant calling the action on the Cougar Sports Network. BYU enters the week with a five-game winning streak and a 25-game home winning streak. The Cougars have also defeated 23 straight nonconference opponents in the Marriott Center. The Cougars are 5-0 at home this year.
Thursday, Dec. 27, 2001
BYU (7-2) vs. Cal State Northridge (2-7)
Marriott Center (22,700)
7 p.m. MT
BYU, Steve Cleveland (74-59 in fifth year; same overall)
CSUN, Bobby Braswell (87-70 in sixth year; same overall)
Series: BYU leads, 3-0
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time - 6 p.m. MT
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Mark Durrant
Saturday, Dec. 29, 2001
BYU vs. Southern Utah (3-8)
Marriott Center (22,700)
4 p.m. MT
BYU, Steve Cleveland (74-59 in fifth year; same overall)
SUU, Bill Evans (141-131 in 10th year; same overall)
Series: BYU leads, 4-0
KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)
Pregame Air Time - 3 p.m. MT
Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell
Game Analyst: Mark Durrant
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Mark Bigelow 6-7 190 So. 17.2 3.2
F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-9 215 Sr. 11.3 5.3
C 52 Jared Jensen 6-9 245 Fr. 8.0 2.9
G 2 Travis Hansen 6-6 210 Jr. 15.3 7.7
G 31 Matt Montague 6-0 190 Sr. 6.0 7.2 apg
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G 20 Daniel Bobik 6-6 205 So. 9.6 3.7
G 22 Jimmy Balderson 6-6 200 Fr. 5.3 2.5
F 32 Bart Jepsen 6-9 235 So. 1.1 2.6
C 40 Dan Howard 7-0 225 So. 0.6 1.6
G 10 Terry Nashif 5-10 165 Fr. 0.4 0.8 apg
C 42 Jon Carlisle 6-10 260 So. 2.0 2.0
F 4 Jesse Pinegar 6-9 225 Fr. 0.0 1.0
G 12 Shawn Opunui (OUT/INJURY) 5-11 175 Fr. 1.5 2.8 apg
Scouting Cal State Northridge
The Matadors are in their first year in the Big West Conference after earning the NCAA bid from the Big Sky Conference last year with a 22-10 overall record and 13-3 first-place league mark. Coach Bobby Braswell returns five lettermen and two starters from last year's squad. The Matadors have a 2-7 record this year with wins over Dominican University (101-47) and the University of Idaho (57-56). Cal State Northridge's seven losses have included three common BYU opponents in San Diego State (80-70), Wyoming (86-64) and Utah State (73-56). All three of those losses were on the road. The Matadors are 1-5 on the road overall, winning at Idaho last Saturday. They have only played three home games and are 1-2 at the Matadome. They are led by returning starter Markus Carr, 6-1, 180, Sr., G (8.7 ppg, 2.3 ppg last year), who is scoring 18.8 points per game and pulling down 4.9 rebounds per contest. He is the only Matador averaging double figures. Twelve different players have starterd for the Matadors this season and no one has started every game. Carr has made a team-high eight starts in their nine games. Ryan Sims grabs a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game dispite only averaging 16.4 minutes in eight games. He has four starts. As a team, the Matadors shoot 38.6 percent from the floor, 31.9 percent from three-point range, and 62.9 percent from the free throw line. They average 37.2 rebounds while allowing 44.8 and score 68.1 points per game while giving up 74.9.
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 3-0
BYU Record in Provo: 3-0
BYU Record at Northridge: 0-0
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 1-0
Longest BYU Win Streak: 3 (1992-98)
Longest CS-Northridge Win Streak: N/A
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 32, 100-68 in 1992
Largest CS-Northridge Margin of Victory: N/A
Most Points Scored by BYU: 100 in 1992
Most Points Scored by CS-Northridge: 78 in 1998
3-3-92 Cal St Northridge 100-68 W
12-8-95 CS-Northridge 99-74 W
12-12-98 CS-Northridge 84-78 W
Scouting Southern Utah
The Thunderbirds return nine lettermen and one starter fromlast year's 25-6 team that won the Mid-Continent Conference and earned an NCAA tournament bid. The Thunderbirds have a 3-8 record this year with wins over Fort Lewis (86-69), Adams State (67-57) and Idaho State (68-51). Among the eight losses are defeats at Stanford (81-63), at Oregon State (73-63), at Utah (71-47) and at Weber State (70-64). They have lost three straight since defeating Idaho State at home on Dec. 10. The Thunderbirds are 0-7 away from home and 3-1 in Cedar City. Dan Beus and Jay Collins lead the Thunderbirds with 12.2 and 11.8 scoring averages, respectively. As a team, SUU shoots 44.7 percent from the floor, 39.2 percent on threes, and 69.8 percent from the line. They grab 26.3 rebounds while allowing 33.5 boards and score 63.9 ppg while giving up an average of 68.2 points per contest.
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 4-0
BYU Record in Provo: 4-0
BYU Record in Cedar City: 0-0
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 0-0
BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 2-0
Longest BYU Win Streak: 4 (1992-Present)
Longest Southern Utah Win Streak: N/A
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 46, 108-62 in 1992
Largest Southern Utah Margin of Victory: N/A
Most Points Scored by BYU: 108 in 1992
Most Points Scored by Southern Utah: 67 in 1994
12-11-92 Southern Utah 108-62 W
12-9-94 Southern Utah 82-67 W
11-24-99 Southern Utah 92-66 W
12-14-00 Southern Utah 58-52 W
Cougars Upset No. 13 Stanford in Las Vegas Showdown
LAS VEGAS -- In a nationally televised game on ESPN, BYU defeated No. 13 Stanford 81-76 late Saturday night in the second game of the Las Vegas Showdown. Entering the season, most experts didn't expect much from a Cougar basketball team that lost four starters and three All-Mountain West Conference players from last year's MWC title team. But Saturday's upset over the defending Pac-10 champions may have people taking note of a BYU squad that is off to a 7-2 start. In perhaps the Cougars' biggest non-conference game of the Steve Cleveland era, senior Eric Nielsen had the best game of his career, leading the Cougars to a five-point victory over Stanford. Nielsen had 29 points on the night, shattering his previous career high of 19 points. "Eric doesn't play like that every night, but tonight he did," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "He responded to the challenge, give Eric credit." Nielsen and Stanford All-American Casey Jacobsen traded blows, with Jacobsen finishing the game with 28 points. But Jacobsen went cold down the stretch and struggled throughout the game from the free throw line. With defensive stopper Travis Hansen on the bench with four fouls, sophomore Mark Bigelow matched up with Jacobsen for a key stretch in the final 10 minutes. "Mark made a huge difference on defense fronting Jacobsen for seven or eight minutes," Cleveland said. BYU entered the game leading the nation in free-throw percentage, and the Cougars needed it at the end of the game. Senior Matt Montague iced the game making six free throws in the final 34 seconds. Montague played nearly the entire game, missing just under a minute in the first half. He contributed eight points, four assists and a season-high seven rebounds. "It's nice to see the seniors step up," Cleveland said. Along with clutch free throw shooting, the Cougars shot a blistering 63.6 percent from behind the three-point line. BYU finished the game 7-11 from behind the arc, while Stanford finished the game 6-25. Trailing 63-61 with just under 10 minutes to play, BYU went on a decisive 13-2 run over the next eight minutes that proved too much for the Cardinal to overcome. BYU missed several opportunities to finish the game off in the final minutes, but made the free throws when they counted. "Coach Cleveland does a great job preparing us," Nielsen said. "I think this is our team's biggest non-conference win." BYU has quietly won five games in a row and continues to creep higher in the RPI rankings. BYU hadn't defeated a ranked opponent since 1998 when the Cougars knocked off No. 15 New Mexico in The Pit. That victory came in Cleveland's first season, but the Cougar head coach knows his team isn't satisfied with one win over a ranked opponent. "It's a big win, but it's still one game," Cleveland said. "I don't really talk to the team about wins, but about getting better. We are trying to get better every day. We can't contend for the conference championship unless we get better." BYU will take a quick break over Christmas before the Cougars host Cal State Northridge Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Cougars look to extend their current winning streak to six games and their home winning streak to 26 games.
This week BYU received votes for the first time this season in both the AP poll and the USA Today/ESPN poll. The Cougars are the top-ranked Mountain West team after receiving 18 points in the AP poll for a No. 37 ranking. BYU received four votes in the coaches poll (T-41st). Wyoming is the top MWC team in the coaches poll (32nd), followed by New Mexico (40th). Utah State (T-36th in coaches and 44th in AP) and Stanford (No. 15 by coaches and No. 16 by AP) are the other BYU opponents who received votes in the latest polls. BYU's win over then No. 13 Stanford was the Cougars' first win over a top-20 team since upsetting No. 15 New Mexico in The Pit in February 1998. Last year BYU lost to No. 13 USC, 70-67, at the Yahoo Sports Invitational in Laie, Hawaii, after leading by 18 at the half, 41-23. BYU played at No. 4 Arizona on Dec. 1, 1999 but lost 86-62. BYU took No. 11 Arizona to overtime in Provo on Nov. 24, 1998, before losing 78-74. BYU nearly won in regulation, but Arizona's Jason Terry hit a three-pointer to send the game to overtime.
First Half Success
BYU has led at the half in all eight of nine games this season, trailing only Stanford (41-40). BYU is outscoring its opponents in the first half 326-248 (36.2 -- 27.5). BYU has shot 50 percent or better in the first half in six of their last eight games. The Cougars have scored more points in the second half but also yield more points. BYU has outscored its opponents 337-300 in the second half (37.4 -- 33.3). BYU has been outscored 15-6 in one overtime period this year.
Hot Shooting at Home
In BYU's last two wins in the Marriott Center, BYU combined to shoot an amazing 63.2 percent from the floor as a team and 45.7 percent on threes. BYU continued to shoot well from the line as well, making 81.4 percent of its attempts. BYU coach Steve Cleveland played 13 players in those games and 11 of the 13 made better than 56 percent of their shots, with 10 of 13 making at least 60 percent of their attempts. Only Matt Montague (4-9, .444) and Jesse Pinegar (0-3, .000) failed to reach 50 percent shooting. Overall, BYU is shooting 52.6 percent from the floor in its five home games this year.
More Shooting Numbers
BYU is shooting 50.7 percent in its seven victories and 43.6 percent in its two losses. The Cougars are shooting about the same behind the arc (.441 in losses and .432 in wins. At home BYU is shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, 41.9 percent on threes, while on the road BYU makes 44.7 percent and 45.5 percent, respectively. Overall, BYU makes 49.0 percent of hits attempts, including 43.4 percent from behindthe arc.
From Three-Point Range
Seven Cougars have made a three-point shot this season. Mark Bigelow has made a team-high 22 threes (22-46, .478). He has made a trey in all nine games. Daniel Bobik is 14-30 (.467) and Travis Hansen is 13-27 (.481). Bobik hit a career-best five threes in seven attempts BYU's last game in Provo (win over Idaho). Eric Nielsen made a career-high two threes vs. Stanford last Saturday in Las Vegas.
BYU's Mark Bigelow and Travis Hansen are the Cougars one-two scoring punch. Bigelow in double figures eight of nine games and Hansen seven of nine. Bigelow scores 17.2 ppg and Hansen 15.3 ppg on the year.
Third Scoring Threat
Senior Eric Nielsen scored a career-high 29 points vs. Stanford. He is averaging 11.3 ppg. Reserve guard Daniel Bobik is adding 9.6 ppg off the bench and has a high this year of 17 points. Freshman center Jared Jensen is averaging 8.0 ppg and has a high of 14 points.
Consistency at the Line
BYU has made 80 percent or more of its free throws in five of nine games this season, including four of the last six. BYU shot 7.65 percent vs. Stanford on Saturday. BYU is shooting 79.7 percent from the line for the year. Last year, BYU led the nation at 78 percent from the line. The Cougars are currently ranked third nationally this season.
More Free Throw Numbers
Four Cougars are shooting 80 percent or better from the free throw line and six are making 70 percent or better. Daniel Bobik makes a team-leading 90 percent (No. 1 among MWC players), followed by Mark Bigelow (.882), Jared Jensen (.833), Matt Montague (.806), Eric Nielsen (.773) and Travis Hansen (.729).
Nielsen Named MWC Player of the Week
COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU senior forward Eric Nielsen was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week Monday after leading the Cougars to an 81-76 upset of 13th-ranked Stanford Saturday at the Las Vegas Showdown. It was Nielsen's first player of the week honor of his career. Nielsen, from Freemont, Calif. (Irvington HS) scored a career-high 29 points after making 11-of-16 shots from the floor (68.8 percent), including 2-for-2 from three-point range. He was also a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line and grabbed six rebounds, while dishing out two assists. Nielsen's two treys marked a career best and equaled the total number of threes he's made in the past two years combined. Nielsen scored 17 points in 18 first-half minutes, keeping BYU within one at intermission, 41-40. He added 12 points in the second half and helped the Cougars outrebound Stanford, holding the Cardinal nine boards their season average. Nielsen also set career highs with the 16 field goal attempts, 11 field goals made and free throw percentage (1.000).
MWC Men's Basketball Players of the Week:
Nov. 19 - Joel Gerlach (So., F), Air Force
Nov. 26 - Ruben Douglas (Jr., G), New Mexico
Dec. 3 - Tony Bland (Jr., G), San Diego State
Dec. 10 - Al Faux (Sr., G), San Diego State
Dec. 17 - Dalron Johnson (Jr., F), UNLV
Dec. 24 - Eric Nielsen (Sr., F), BYU.
Home Winning Streak
BYU extended its home court winning streak to 25 games with its win over Idaho Saturday. BYU owns the fourth longest home-court streak in the nation. BYU went a perfect 15-0 in the Marriott Center last season. BYU's last loss in the Marriott Center was on Feb. 17, 2000 when New Mexico edged the Cougars 78-74.
Home Winning Streak 2
BYU has defeated 23 straight nonconference opponents in the Marriott Center. The last non-league foe to win in Provo was the California Bears, who edged BYU 71-70 on Dec. 19, 1998. BYU has a 29-6 home record against nonconference teams under Steve Cleveland. BYU is 22-0 vs. non-MWC teams at home since the conference was founded in 1999. The Cougars are the only MWC team with an unbeaten home nonconference mark.
From the Training Room
Reserve point guard Shawn Opunui will be out for approximately six weeks after reinjuring his left thumb Saturday vs. Idaho (torn ligaments). He originally suffered ligament damage in his thumb while playing three minutes at Utah State on Dec. 1. It is anticipated the freshman guard will be in a hard cast for the next four weeks and then a removable splint for two weeks.
BYU on Defense
Defensively, BYU has held its last four opponents at home below 36 percent field goal shooting. The Cougars held Stanford to 41 percent, five percentage points below their season average. On the year, BYU has held six of its nine opponents below 38 percent shooting. Only Stanford (40.9),Arizona State (45.5) and Utah State (50.9) have topped 38 percent on BYU. Overall, BYU holds opponents to a 38.8 field goal percentage and a 27.5 three-point percentage.
Hitting the Glass
BYU has done a good job on the boards this year. BYU averages 36.1 rebounds while its opponents grab on average 29.7. BYU has out boarded its opponents in seven games, including a 38-37 edge over Stanford, an is 7-0 in those games. The Cougars have only been out boarded once, 35-24 in its overtime loss to Utah State. The Cougars and UCSB each had 35 rebounds. BYU out boarded Fort Lewis, 47-17. BYU's 42-26 rebounding advantage over ASU was the third worst margin suffered by ASU coach Rob Evan's in his coaching career and his worst at ASU.
BYU Record - Comparing Recent Starts
With its 7-2 record, BYU has a winning record after nine games for the third straight season. Last year BYU also got off to a 7-2 start and went on to a 24-9 record. In 1999-2000 the Cougars also started 7-2 and finished 22-11. BYU could equal its best start in the last three years with a wins against CS Northridge and Southern Utah this week. BYU was 7-3 after 10 games last year and 7-4 after 11 games. In 1999-2000, BYU was 8-2 after 10 games and 9-2 after 11 games. That team went on to a 12-2 mark before losing its third game.
BYU is currently ranked 31st and is the top-rated team in the Mountain West Conference in the Sagarin ratings. The MWC is ranked 7th in the latest ratings (Dec. 24). Below is a list of MWC teams in order of ranking (records reflect Division I games only). To see the latest Sagarin Rankings go to: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin.htm
According to CollegeRPI.com rankings (Dec. 24) computed by Jerry Palm and Collegiate Basketball News, BYU has the top RPI among Mountain West Confernce teams (ranked 21st). The Mountain West Conference is rated 9th among the 32 conferences (and five independents).
BYU in MWC Statistics
Ã‚â€¢ BYU leads all MWC teams this year in scoring defense (62.6), scoring margin, (+11.8), free throw shooting (.797), three-point shooting (.434) and three-point percentage defense (.282).
Ã‚â€¢ The Cougars rate second in field goal percentage defense (.372) and defensive rebounds (27.44). The Cougars are third in field goal percentage (.490), rebounding margin (+6.4) and rebounding defense (29.7).
Ã‚â€¢ Matt Montague leads all MWC players in assists (7.2) and assist/turnover ration (2.83).
Ã‚â€¢ Mark Bigelow is second in scoring (17.2), third in free throw percentage (.882), fourth in three-point field goals made per game (2.44) and eighth in three-point percentage (.478).
Ã‚â€¢ Travis Hansen ranks second in defensive rebounds average (6.1), fourth in total rebounds average (7.7), fifth in scoring (15.3) and sixth in three-point percentage (.481).
Ã‚â€¢ Eric Nielsen is tied for fifth in field goal percentage (.594).
Ã‚â€¢ Danield Bobik leads all MWC players in free throw percentage (.900) and is ninth in three-point percentage (.467).
Ã‚â€¢ Jared Jensen is tied for fifth in free throw percentage (.833).
BYU in National Statistics (as of Dec. 17)
Ã‚â€¢ BYU is second in the nation in free throw shooting percentage, 19th in field goal percentage, 27th in three-point field goal percentage and 27th in scoring defense.
Ã‚â€¢ Senior point guard Matt Montague is tied for third nationally in assists per gameand Mark Bigelow is tied for 12 in free throw percentage.
MATT MONTAGUE / 6-0 Ã‚â€¢ 190 Ã‚â€¢ senior Ã‚â€¢ point guard
CAPSULE: Montague provides leadership at the point having started 57 times and played in all 92 games in his first three years ... Last year he started 12 games, primarily before Trent Whiting joined the team in December, but still lead the team in assists (2.9) while playing mostly a reserve role ... He has led the team in assists during each of his three seasons ... A hard-nosed competitor, he sees the floor well and is a great transition passer ... Career averages entering this year are 3.6 points and 3.8 assists.
Matt Montague had a season-high seven rebounds vs. Stanford and made a career-best eight free throws to seal the win for BYU. He set a career-high with 15 assists vs. Idaho in the last game in the Marriott Center. It was the most assists by a Cougar in the last 25 years. He was one shy of the BYU and Marriott Center record of 16 assists set by Mike May vs. Niagara in 1976. Montague averages a team- and MWC-leading 7.6 assists this year. He is tied for third in assists per game in the latest NCAA statistics. He is averaging 36.6 minutes per game. He played a season-low 19 minutes vs. Fort Lewis. He scored 11 points and had a game-high eight assists at USD in the season-opener. Montague reached double-digit points only once last year in 33 games, scoring 12 points at the University of San Francisco.
TRAVIS HANSEN / 6-6 Ã‚â€¢ 210 Ã‚â€¢ junior Ã‚â€¢ guard/forward
CAPSULE: . After playing a supporting role in his first season at BYU last year, Hansen is playing a more significant role in 2001-02 ... With his increase in playing time, he has the talent to become an all-conference player ... He is very athletic ... His explosiveness gives him great potential as a scorer and rebounder ... He is most effective when slashing to the basket but has range from the three-point arc ... He was fifth in scoring last year (5.5) and also grabbed 3.0 boards per game ... He earned a starting job midway through the year before missing nine games in the middle of MWC play because of a fractured right foot. He played primarily a reserve role to senior Nathan Cooper after returning from his injury ... He started nine games and the Cougars had a 7-2 record in those games with loses at Colorado State and Wyoming, where he suffered the foot injury ... He played his freshman year at Utah Valley State College before going on an LDS Church mission ... He sat out a year as a redshirt before joining the Cougars in 2000-2001.
Hansen leads BYU in rebounding (7.7 rpg) and is second in scoring (15.3 ppg). After taking 11 or more shots in the first four games, he has not taken more than eight attempts in the last five games. He played a key defensive role against first-team All-American Casey Jacobsen of Stanford Saturday while adding a team-high 9 rebounds. He also added 8 points. He had 11 points vs. Idaho and 15 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes vs. Fort Lewis in the last two home games. He had a team-high 18 points on 5-7 shooting along with five boards in BYU's win over Crieghton. Hansen scored a career-high 26 points against Utah State in BYU's overtime loss earlier this season. He went 10-15 from the floor, including a 3-5 from three-point range, and was 3-4 from the line. He added a team-high five rebounds and one assist in 38 minutes. His 10 field goals, three treys and 38 minutes were all career highs. He had his second straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds at UC Santa Barbara after 18 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to lead BYU over Arizona State. The two double-doubles are the first of his career.
MARK BIGELOW / 6-7 Ã‚â€¢ 190 Ã‚â€¢ sophomore Ã‚â€¢ guard/forward
CAPSULE -- Bigelow could be one of the Cougars top players and among the top performers in the Mountain West if he returns to his pre-mission form ... So far he has proved capable of returning to his pre-mission form ... He was BYU's leading scorer (15.0) and rebounder (6.3) in 1998-99 before going on a two-year LDS Church mission to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. ... He returned from his mission in June having grown an inch to 6-7 ... He could play the 2 or the 3 spot on the floor for the Cougars ... He is an excellent shooter and extremely intelligent player ... A gifted offensive player with a great mid-range game ... He moves well without the ball ... He was the 1999 WAC Pacific Division Freshman of the Year, All-WAC Second Team and All-Newcomer Team.
Mark Bigelow had 15 pointsand 5 rebounds vs. Stanford. He leads BYU in scoring at 17.2 ppg. He averaged 16.5 points in only 21.5 minutes during BYU's last two home wins. He took advantage of his time on the floor, making 66.7 percent (8-12) of his field goal attempts, including 50 percent (4-8) of this threes, and was perfect from the free throw line (13-13). He scored a game-high 19 points in 24 minutes against Idaho, going 4-7 from the floor, 3-6 on threes, and 8-8 from the line. Bigelow tallied 14 points in 19 minutes against Fort Lewis College, going 4-5 from the floor and 5-5 from the line. Bigelow has reached double-figure points in the last eight games and has totaled 14 or more points in every game but the season-opener when he scored nine points before fouling out. He scored a season-high 31 points against Arizona State in Provo.
ERIC NIELSEN / 6-9 Ã‚â€¢ 215 Ã‚â€¢ senior Ã‚â€¢ forward
CAPSULE -- A three-year starter, Nielsen will play a big role for the Cougars in 2001-02 with the loss of the team's other four starters ... An intelligent player with a good mid-range jumper, his 56.3 career field goal percentage ranks third all-time at BYU ... Nielsen and teammate Matt Montague were all freshmen members of the 1996-97 BYU team that finished 1-25 .... After returning from his mission, Nielsen has played the past two seasons for coach Cleveland , helping the Cougars earn a combined 46-20 record and two postseason tournament berths ... He is Academic All-MWC and a Cougar Scholar Athlete.
Nielsen is third on the team in scoring (11.3 ppg) and is second in rebounds (5.3 rpg). After scoring a season-low 2 points against Idaho in 25 minutes, taking only two shots, he scored a career-high 29 points Saturday vs. Stanford, taking a career-high 16 attempts while making a personal-best 11 shots. He had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes vs. Fort Lewis. He had 9 points, 5 boards and 2 assists vs. Creighton. He has reached double-figure points in four games. He had 14 points, 8 boards and 2 assists vs. Weber State. He had 14 at Utah State and had a then career-high 19 points vs. ASU in BYU's home opener (his prior best was 17 against Utah at the Thomas & Mack Center in the 2000 MWC tournament in Las Vegas). This year against ASU, he went 8-11 from the floor. Last year the most shots he took in a game was eight, when he averaged 3.8 shot attempts per game. This year he is taking 7.6 shots per game. He ranks third all-time at BYU in career field goal percentage and is making 59.4 percent of his shots so far this year.
JARED JENSEN / 6-9 Ã‚â€¢ 245 Ã‚â€¢ freshman Ã‚â€¢ center
CAPSULE: Jensen earned the 2001 Deseret News Mr. Basketball Award after scoring 25.8 points and pulling down 13 rebounds per game this past season at Fremont High School (Utah). He averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game as a high school junior when he also earned Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News All-State honors. He is a talented offensive player in the low-post who can also score with his jumper. He should get the opportunity to play as a freshman with the loss of 2001 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Mekeli Wesley in the post.
Jensen is averaging 8.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. He had 9 points vs. Stanford and scored 12 points in each of the last two games in the Marriott Center. He went 4-4 from the floor and 4-4 from the line vs. Idaho. He is shooting a team-best 66.7 percent from the floor. He had 12 points in 20 minutes vs. Idaho and 12 points in 16 minutes vs. Fort Lewis. He has reached double-figure points three times. He had a career-high 14 points on 4-5 shooting and 6-8 from the line at UCSB. He had a career-best 10 boards vs. Creighton, along with 4 points and 2 assists. He had 7 points vs. Weber State. In his first career start vs. Arizona State, he played 15 minutes and had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
DANIEL BOBIK / 6-6 Ã‚â€¢ 205 Ã‚â€¢ sophomoreÃ‚â€¢ guard
CAPSULE: Bobik averaged 3.5 points and 10.4 minutes while playing in 28 of 33 games last year as a freshman ... He has good offensive instincts and size on the guardline ... He will get playing time as a sophomore with the loss of BYU's all-conference guard line of Trent Whiting and Terrell Lyday ... He has good range and is a crafty passer with good court awareness ... He could play some point but is primarily a wing player ... He enrolled at BYU for his freshman season after returning from an LDS Church mission to the Dominican Republic ... He and Mark Bigelow were the first recruits to sign with BYU under Steve Cleveland.
Bobik plays the sixth-man role. He is averaging 22.6 minutes, 9.6 points and 37 rebounds. He shoots a MWC-best 90 percent from the line and has made 12 straight attempts. His last miss was in BYU's second game vs. Arizona State. He is fourth on the team in scoring. He has reached double-digit points four times, including 10 points vs. Stanford. He was 1-2 on threes vs. the Cardinal and also scored on a nice post move and on a dribble drive. He had a career high 17 points vs. Idaho in the last outing in the Marriott Center. He made 5-7 threes, both career highs. He had 7 points in 18 minutes vs. Fort Lewis and had 7 points and a career-best 8 rebounds vs. Creighton. He had 13 points at Utah State. He played a career-high 33 minutes with 12 points and four rebounds in the season-opener at USD.
BART JEPSEN / 6-9 Ã‚â€¢ 235 Ã‚â€¢ redshirt sophomore Ã‚â€¢ forward
CAPSULE: Jepsen redshirted last season after returning from an LDS Church mission ... He had suffered a severe break of his leg on his mission ... He will likely play a significant role in the middle as a rebounder and defender who can run the floor well ... A strong physical presence and good rebounder, he could play a role similar to that of outgoing senior Nate Knight ... Before a two-year LDS Church mission, Jepsen started nine times while playing 27 games as a freshman in 1997-98 in Cleveland's first season ... He is the younger brother of former Cougar center Bret Jepsen.
Jepsen has appeared in all nine games off the bench, averaging 2.6 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game. He played only four minutes vs. Stanford. He played a season-high 22 minutes at Utah State. He had a season-high 5 points vs. Fort Lewis. His rebound high is 6 vs. Arizona State. He takes just over one shot per game.
JESSE PINEGAR / 6-9 Ã‚â€¢ 220 Ã‚â€¢ redshirt freshman Ã‚â€¢ forward
CAPSULE: Pinegar redshirted last year after coming to BYU as one of the Cougars' top recruits and the first of BYU's top-20 recruiting class to commit to the Cougars ... He was rated the top center in the West as a junior and sat out his senior year of high school after shoulder surgery ...An extremely skilled offensive player, he was expected to play a strong role for BYU this season but again injured his left (non dominant) shoulder in June ... He played for the first time last week, appearing in both games in a limited role ... He had not been able to practice since June ... His latest surgery should completely repair the injury but he still has some pain ... He is a mobile, athletic player, he can play several positions and has excellent range beyond the three-point line ... He is an outstanding passer and a very skilled young offensive post player ... He made significant strides in the weight room this past season before the injury .... He has the tools to play a significant role once healthy but is not in condition to compete at this point.
Redshirt Freshman Jesse Pinegar has played in two games since being cleared by doctors (shoulder surgery in June). It was his first action since his junior year of high school. He sat out his senior year after shoulder surgery and then redshirted last season at BYU. He injured his shoulder again this summer and had surgery in June. He played seven minutes with 1 rebound and 1 assist vs. Fort Lewis in his first career appearance.
DAN HOWARD / 7-0 Ã‚â€¢ 225 Ã‚â€¢ sophomore Ã‚â€¢ center
CAPSULE: Howard played in 14 games last year in limited action ... The tallest player on the roster, he has a nice touch for a big man ... He entered the year having made 8-of-11 field goal attempts as a Cougar ... A hard worker, he has a knack for the ball and could be a factor in inside this year, especially with the Cougars' losses in the post ... He has not had the opportunity to play a lot of consistent minutes (he played a career-best 12 minutes at San Francisco last year) since last playing for his high school team in 1996.
Howard started the season-opener at USD, the first start of his career. He played seven minutes, with one rebound. He has appeared in seven games overall, playing 6.0 minutes per game. He played 2 minutes vs. Stanford with one rebound. He had 4 points and 5 boards vs. Fort Lewis and had 3 rebounds and 2 blocks vs. Idaho in the most action he has seen this year. He played a career-high 13 minutes in each game. Last year he played 12 minutes at San Francisco. He is a career 10-15 from the floor in his two seasons, including 2-4 this year.
JON CARLISLE / 6-10 Ã‚â€¢ 260 Ã‚â€¢ sophomore Ã‚â€¢ center
CAPSULE: Carlisle is from Salt Lake City and last played on Utah's Final Four team in 1998 as the primary backup to current Cleveland Cavaliers center Michael Doleac. He averaging 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game. He averaged 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds at Brighton High School in 1997 and was one of three players, including new Cougar teammate Jake Shoff (who is redshirting due to transfer rules), to earn Region 4 Tri-Player of the Year honors. He continues to work to get back into playing shape, having already taken off 40 pounds since returning from his mission. He is a talented post player who has the tools to be a strong contributor once he is in condition to play.
Carlisle has played in four games. He played a season-high 14 minutes, more than doubling his previous high, while making a significant contributin vs. Stanford. He played 10 minutes in the first half with Jared Jensen in foul trouble. He scored 2 points and had 2 rebounds and 1 block. He scored a season-high 6 points in seven minutes vs. Fort Lewis. He played six minutes vs. Idaho.
JACOB CHRISMAN / 6-8 Ã‚â€¢ 225 Ã‚â€¢ sophomore Ã‚â€¢ forward
CAPSULE: A two-sport athlete, Chrisman is also is a pitcher on the BYU baseball team ... He announced last spring that he will redshirt basketball this year to play a full season of baseball, but could still try to play both sports this season ... He started practicing with the basketball team in November after the completion of fall baseball workouts ... He could be a significant contributor if he does play basketball ... He is extremely mobile and a strong rebounder ... He is an athletic low post player who can score in multiple ways ... He has developed a nice perimeter game ... A hard worker, he has a knack for the game and finds a way to make plays both on offense and defense ... A slasher-type player who has a nice shooting touch, he could play both the three and four positions for the Cougars.
He is yet to play this year while working out. He could still redshirt the basketball season.
JIMMY BALDERSON / 6-6 Ã‚â€¢ 200 Ã‚â€¢ freshman Ã‚â€¢ guard
CAPSULE: Balderson is a 6-foot-6 combo guard who averaged 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists while leading Magrath High School in Alberta, Canada to a 32-3 record this past season ... He has excellent range from the three-point line and has good size ... He shot 54 percent from the floor and 91 percent from the free throw line at Magrath High ... A skilled young player, he could factor in on perimeter this year ... He plans to leave in the spring on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Balderson has played in six games and averages 10.3 minutes. He did not play vs. Stanford. He scored a career-high 19 points to lead all BYU scorers against Fort Lewis. He played a team-high 22 minutes, going 8-10 from the floor. He also recorded career highs with 7 rebounds and 3 steals, sharing team-high honors in both categories. He has been able to score when he has gotten the playing time. He has played double-digit minutes in three games, averaging 15 minutes and 9.3 points. In the other three games he has averaged 5.6 minutes and 1.3 points. He could get some opportunities to play the point with Opunui out with an injury.
SHAWN OPUNUI / 5-11 Ã‚â€¢ 170 Ã‚â€¢ freshman Ã‚â€¢ point guard
CAPSULE: Opunui averaged 21.7 points and 6.1 assists as an all-state point guard at Orem High School in 1999 before leaving for an LDS Church mission ... A strong offensive player and solid defender, Opunui shot nearly 91 percent from the free throw line, third best in state history, and 40 percent on three-point attempts ... His 401 assists put him on the state's top-10 all-time list ... He is an athletic point guard who has excellent open court passing skills and is an outstanding three-point shooter ... His ability to break defenses down with the dribble should create offensive opportunities for his teammates ... He loves pushing the ball up the floor as a true point guard with great court vision ... A super passer and great penetrator, Opunui should have the opportunity to play with the loss to graduation of all-MWC guards Trent Whiting and Terrell Lyday and loss to injury of Michael Vranes.
It is anticipated Opunui will be out for at least six weeks after reinjuring his left thumb vs. Idaho (torn ligaments). He originally suffered ligament damage in his thumb while playing three minutes at Utah State on Dec. 1. The freshman guard will wear a hard cast for the next four weeks and then a removable splint for two weeks. He had played in four games. His only significant playing time was against Fort Lewis when he played 20 minutes. It was his first action in three games after injuring his thumb at Utah State. He dished out a career-best 10 assists and had career highs with six points, four rebounds and three steals in 20 minutes vs. Fort Lewis. He had six assists in the first half in only seven minutes.
TERRY NASHIF / 5-10 Ã‚â€¢ 165 Ã‚â€¢ freshman Ã‚â€¢ guard
CAPSULE: Nashif is a freshman who served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after his senior year in 1999 at Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash. ... A smart player who can put down the three-pointer, he knows how to run a team and is an excellent distributor of the ball ... He could factor in at the point.
Nashif could see more playing time with the loss of Shawn Opunui. He has played in five games, including a brief appearance vs. Stanford at the end of the game. His only real significant time was against Fort Lewis, when he played 10 minutes and ahd 2 points and 3 assists. He played five minutes vs. Idaho with one assist. He is averaging 3.4 minutes.
COACH STEVE CLEVELAND (74-59, 5TH YEAR)
Steve Cleveland enters his fifth season at the helm of the Cougars in 2001-02. In his four seasons at BYU, Cleveland has proven to be a first-rate recruiter, an excellent coach and player developer, and above all, a winner. Last year Cleveland guiding BYU to its first NCAA tournament bid since 1995, its first conference regular season title since 1993 and its first conference tournament championship since 1992. While rebuilding a program that finished 1-25 before his arrival, he has improved the Cougars each season, posting records of 9-21, 12-16, 22-11 and 24-9. The Cougars also improved upon an NIT season in 1999-2000 to earn an NCAA berth last year. The past two seasons both rank among of the school's best year's ever in terms of wins dating back to the Cougars first season in 1902. In fact, only five BYU teams have ever recorded more wins than last year's 24-9 team and only seven have improved upon the 22-11 record in 1999-2000.