SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame fans saluted their newest favorite son, Troy Murphy, with repeated chants of "two more years" as he exited the floor at the Joyce Center on Wednesday night.
Murphy had just led Notre Dame (21-14) to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals in New York with a 64-52 win over BYU, but the Irish faithful knew there was likely plenty to come from Murphy. Only a sophomore, and already a first-team All-America selection, Murphy still has two years to pay back the NCAA Tournament selection committee for this year's snub.
As for the Cougars (22-11), just one night against the 6-7, 235-pounder and what seemed like a never-ending supply of big men on the part of the Fighting Irish was plenty.
Murphy led all scorers with 19 points and nine rebounds and the Notre Dame zone defense held BYU to a dismal 37-percent shooting performance.
"They were huge," BYU forward Mekeli Wesley said. "I can see why they play zone the whole game -- they're big, huge, strong and not that quick. They just clog up the middle."
Still, even first-year coach Matt Doherty wasn't quite willing to give all the credit to his squad's defensive effort.
"We were very patient with our zone. I was itching to get out of it because they were getting some open looks," Doherty said.
"I was really happy with our zone offense, to tell you the truth, considering we haven't run it all year. We got everything we wanted out of it," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said.
True enough. BYU did manage to hoist up a season-high 29 3-pointers, but converted just eight of those attempts. That stat includes the Cougars' opening barrage, in which they nailed three consecutive treys to go up 9-3.
"If you don't make them on the road, you're not going to win," Cleveland said.
The bulk of the 3s came from Terrell Lyday, who finished with just 8 points, and Michael Vranes, who matched Wesley and reserve John Allen for team-high honors with 10 points. Vranes and Lyday were a combined 4-of-19 (21 percent) from behind the arc and a 6-of-26 (23 percent) overall from the field.
"We pretty much got what we expected, in terms of what they did defensively against us. We got all the open shots we needed," Cleveland said. "It was unfortunate that my leading 3-point shooter went down with a twisted knee."
Cleveland was referring to Todd Christensen, a 42-percent 3-point shooter. Christensen went down midway through the first half with a sublocation of his left knee cap. It was a recurring injury for Christensen, who could have played in an emergency.
Allen was a pleasant surprise in the first half, scoring all 10 of his points before the break. It was that performance that somehow kept the Cougars in the game. Mysteriously, BYU trailed just 38-32 at intermission, despite allowing the Irish to shoot 60 percent and with Wesley on the bench with foul trouble from the 8:27 mark on.
Allen even drilled a 3-pointer over Murphy with 21 seconds remaining in the half to cut the lead to 4 before a Jere Macura shot at the buzzer.
The second half was more of the same. The Cougars continued to hang around, despite their own horrid shooting (30 percent for the half) and allowing the Irish to shoot for a high percentage (56 percent). It was, however, their defense that kept the deficit reasonably small. BYU forced Notre Dame into 18 turnovers.
"We played good enough defense. When you hold a team to 64 points, that should be good enough to win on the road," Cleveland said.
But when the Irish turned it over on three straight possessions then missed a pair of shots after that, the Cougars could only close the gap to 50-45 with 10:13 to play. Notre Dame answered with a 10-2 run.
Jimmy Dillon got things going with a steal and breakaway layup. Wesley hit a jumper to cut the lead back to 5, but the crowd erupted when David Graves nailed a 3 on the other end. Graves had a layup to push the lead to 10. Following a Vranes miss, Mike Monserez ended any doubt with a 3-pointer from the corner, right in front of the Irish bench.
Notre Dame moves on to Tuesday's semifinal game at Madison Square Garden against Penn State.
Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS
BYU vs Notre Dame
3-22-00 9:00 p.m. at Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN
VISITORS: BYU (22-11)
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
15 Wesley, Mekeli...... f 4-7 2-4 0-2 0 2 2 5 10 1 1 0 0 24
25 Nielsen, Eric....... f 2-5 0-0 2-2 1 2 3 3 6 1 1 0 1 35
13 Vranes, Michael..... g 3-12 2-8 2-3 3 2 5 2 10 0 0 1 2 35
24 Lyday, Terrell...... g 3-14 2-11 0-0 1 1 2 1 8 1 2 1 1 38
31 Montague, Matt...... g 3-6 0-0 0-0 3 0 3 1 6 8 6 0 1 34
04 Christensen, Todd... 0-1 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
10 Allen, John......... 4-5 2-3 0-0 0 0 0 3 10 0 1 0 0 14
42 Cooper, Nathan...... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 3 3 2 0 2 0 0 0 11
50 Nielsen, David...... 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 5
TEAM................ 2 1 3 1
Totals.............. 20-54 8-29 4-7 11 11 22 18 52 13 12 2 6 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-27 .444 2nd Half: 8-27 .296 Game: .370 DEADBALL
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 6-14 .429 2nd Half: 2-15 .133 Game: .276 REBOUNDS
F Throw % 1st Half: 2-3 .667 2nd Half: 2-4 .500 Game: .571 1,1
HOME TEAM: Notre Dame (21-14)
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
03 Murphy, Troy........ f 5-10 1-3 8-8 0 9 9 1 19 1 5 2 2 37
34 Graves, David....... f 5-8 3-3 0-1 0 5 5 3 13 2 1 0 0 35
42 Swanagan, Harold.... c 3-3 0-0 1-1 1 5 6 3 7 1 4 0 1 23
13 Carroll, Matt....... g 3-7 1-4 0-0 1 1 2 1 7 5 4 0 0 27
21 Dillon, Jimmy....... g 1-1 0-0 2-2 0 1 1 0 4 6 1 0 4 31
11 Kartelo, Ivan....... 1-1 0-0 5-6 0 1 1 2 7 0 0 2 0 13
15 Macura, Jere........ 2-3 0-1 0-0 2 0 2 0 4 1 1 1 0 11
22 Monserez, Mike...... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 14
24 Ingelsby, Martin.... 0-2 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9
TEAM................ 3 3 1
Totals.............. 21-36 6-14 16-18 4 25 29 10 64 16 18 5 7 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-20 .600 2nd Half: 9-16 .562 Game: .583 DEADBALL
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-8 .500 2nd Half: 2-6 .333 Game: .429 REBOUNDS
F Throw % 1st Half: 10-11 .909 2nd Half: 6-7 .857 Game: .889 1
Officials: Bill Kaminski, Dennis Bracco, Joe Curtis
Technical fouls: BYU-None. Notre Dame-None.
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
BYU........................... 32 20 - 52
Notre Dame.................... 38 26 - 64
2000 National Invitation Tournament, Quarterfinals
After an 82-57 second round win over Southern Illinois Monday night, BYU travels to South Bend, Ind., to play Notre Dame Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN with Ron Franklin and Jimmy Dykes providing play by play and analysis. The radio broadcast can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM with Greg Wrubell and Mark Durrant calling the action.
More info available at www.NIT.org on the web.
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to Madison Square Garden to compete in the NIT semifinals March 28 in New York.
Game Quick Facts:
BYU (22-10) at Notre Dame (20-14)
Wednesday, March 22 Ã‚â€¢ Joyce Center (11,418)Ã‚â€¢ South Bend, Ind. Ã‚â€¢ 9 p.m. EST (7 p.m. Mtn)
Television: ESPN Ã‚â€¢ Ron Franklin play by play Ã‚â€¢ Jimmy Dykes analyst
BYU's Probable Starters:
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 42 Nathan Cooper 6-5 210 Jr. 5.6 3.4 F 25 Eric Nielsen 6-8 210 So. 5.8 4.1
F 15 Mekeli Wesley 6-9 230 Jr. 17.1 5.9
G 24 Terrell Lyday 6-3 190 Jr. 17.4 4.1
G 13 Michael Vranes 6-3 190 So. 7.9 4.1
Notre Dame's Probable Starters: Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
F 3 Troy Murphy 6-10 237 So. 23.0 10.5
F 34 David Graves 6-6 208 So. 13.2 5.4
C 42 Harold Swanagan 6-7 252 So. 6.4 4.6
G 13 Matt Carroll 6-6 200 Fr. 9.9 2.5
G 21 Jimmy Dillon 6-2 178 Sr. 3.9 2.2
BYU Coach: Steve Cleveland
Record at BYU: 43-47 (3rd year)
Overall Div. I record: Same
Notre Dame Coach: Matt Doherty
Record at UND: 20-14(1st year)
Overall record: Same
Series Record: Tied 3-3
Game Time: 9 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Mtn)
Place: Joyce Center (Notre Dame) 11,418
Air Time: 9 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Mtn)
Play-by-play: Ron Franklin
Analyst: Jimmy Dykes
Network: Cougar Sports Network
Station: KSL Newsradio 1160 AM
Air Time: 8:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. Mtn)
Play-by-play: Greg Wrubell
Analyst: Mark Durrant
Notre Dame Coach Matt Doherty:
Notre Dame head basketball coach Matt Doherty is in his first year in charge of the Fighting Irish program and his first season as a collegiate head coach. Doherty previously served as an assistant coach at Kansas for seven seasons from 1992-99 as the Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA tournament in each year, including a trip to the 1993 Final Four. Doherty previously served as an assistant coach at Davidson for three seasons from 1989-92. Doherty is a 1984 graduate of North Carolina and helped lead the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA title. Doherty became just the second player in Atlantic Coast Conference history, joining North Carolina's Walter Davis, to accumulate 1,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists in a career. With Notre Dame's 19th win this season (vs. Michigan), Notre Dame head coach Matt Doherty has set a school record for most wins by a first-year head coach. The previous mark was 18 by John MacLeod in 1991-92.
Scouting Notre Dame
Notre Dame is 20-14 after defeating Michigan (75-65) and Xavier (76-64) at home in its first- and second-round NIT games. The Irish scored the last 10 points of the game to defeat Xavier Monday. Against Michigan, sophomore forward Troy Murphy (Morristown, N.J.) scored a game-high 32 points for the Irish while freshman guard Matt Carroll (Horsham, Pa.) had 11 points. The game was tied at 33-33 at the half and Michigan got as close as five points in the final minute as Murphy fouled out of the game, but the Irish sank six of eight free throws to seal the win. Notre Dame advanced to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Conference championship with a 74-62 win over Rutgers in the first round on March 8. The win over the Scarlet Knights was Notre Dame's first BIG EAST tournament win in five years in the event. Notre Dame was eliminated from the event with a 61-58 loss to Miami (Fla.) in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame concluded its regular season with a 77-54 win over Georgetown on March 4. The 23-point margin of victory was the most ever for the Irish in a BIG EAST road game and tied their highest in history. Notre Dame made it to the final four of the preseason NIT, finishing fourth. Notre Dame has played a total of 11 games against ranked teams this season and have posted a 5-6 record in those contests with wins over Connecticut (No. 2 and No. 13), Ohio State (No. 5), St. John's (No. 23) and Seton Hall (No. 23). The Irish also have lost a pair of overtime games - an 81-64 loss at Indiana on Nov. 30 (the Hoosiers went out to a 22-4 lead in that contest) and at home against Vanderbilt on Dec. 4 (87-85). Earlier this season (Dec. 18 through Jan. 12), the Irish strung together a seven-game winning streak for the first time since the 1986-87 season.The 2000 NIT marks the seventh time that the Irish have appeared in the event and Notre Dame holds an overall record of 18-6 in the tournament, including its two wins this year. Notre Dame last played in the NIT in 1997 and advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over Oral Roberts and TCU and a loss to Michigan in the quarterfinals. The Irish advanced to the championship game of the NIT on three occasions - in 1973, '84 and '92. Notre Dame lost in the first round of the event in 1983 and advanced to the third-place game in 1968. The Irish are led by Murphy, who was named the 1999-2000 BIG EAST Conference player-of-the-year and was a first-team All-America pick by the AP and the United States Basketball Writers Association and a second team All-America pick from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and The Sporting News.
This will be the seventh meeting between BYU and Notre Dame in a series that dates back to 1956. BYU is 2-2 at home; 0-3 on the road and 1-0 at a neutral site vs. Notre Dame. Notre Dame won the last meeting, a 62-46 win in South Bend in 1986, in the last of four straight seasons in which the two teams played each other. The teams split the four games with BYU winning at twice at home (68-64 in 1983-84 and 80-76 in overtime in 1985-86) and losing twice at Notre Dame (the 1986-87 season and 67-58 in 1984-85). The first meeting was a Notre Dame win in 1956 (91-56). The other game between the two schools is the only neutral court game and the only post-season matchup between the two schools -- a 51-50 BYU win at the Omni in Atlanta in the 1981 NCAA Tournament. BYU knocked off the favored Irish to advance to the elite eight of the tournament after Danny Ainge dashed the length of the court to score the winning basket just before the final buzzer.
BYU in the NIT
BYU has a 11-5 NIT record in eight appearances, including two NIT titles (1951 and 1966). With its 81-54 win over Bowling Green and an 82-57 victory over Southern Illinois, BYU has a 5-1 home record in NIT games. The Cougars are 1-2 on the road and 5-2 at a neutral site in NIT play. BYU's lone road NIT win was a 97-84 victory over NYU for the 1966 NIT title. BYU last played in the NIT in 1994, defeating Arizona State (74-67) in the first round at home before falling at Fresno State (68-66). Prior to this year's bid, BYU had participated in the NIT in 1951, 1953, 1954, 1966, 1982, 1986 and 1994.
BYU in 2000 NIT:
First Round: Cougars Defeat Bowling Green
BYU shot 57 percent from the floor, including 47 percent on threes (8-17), and 82 percent from the line while holding Bowling Green to 33 percent (30 percent on threes) in its 81-54 win over the MAC regular season champions Wednesday. Lyday led BYU with 15 points as four of the Cougars' five starters reached double figures. Vranes added 14 points with five assists, and Mekeli Wesley and Eric Nielsen each contributed 13 points. Wesley and David Nielsen shared rebound honors with seven while Eric Nielsen went a perfect 6-6 from the floor and 1-1 from the line. Nathan Cooper had a game-high six assists (one off his career high) with five rebounds and four points. David Nielsen recorded career highs with seven points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes, by far the most he has played in a game this season. The Cougars led at the half 38-28 before out scoring the Falcons by 17 in the final 20 minutes.
Second Round: BYU Defeats Southern Illinois
BYU continued its hot shooting and strong defense with an 82-57 win over Southern Illinois in front of 16,949 at the Marriott Center Monday. The Cougars shot 51.6 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from three-point range (8-18) to run away in the second half for its second straight home NIT win. Leading at the half 34-26, the Cougars never let the Salukis get closer than six points in the second half. The Cougars had four players score double figures, led by Terrell Lyday with 19. Mekeli Wesley added 16, Michael Vranes 13 and Eric Nielsen 10. Wesley had a game-high nine rebounds while Matt Montague had a game- and season-best 10 assists. Vranes played a solid game adding six rebounds and five assists to his 13 points. The cougars made only 10-19 free throws. BYU held Southern Illinois to 28.8 percent shooting and only 15 field goals. SIU was led by Kent Williams with 17 points and Jermaine Dearman with 10.
Looking for No. 23
At 22-10, BYU has won the most games since BYU had identical 22-10 records in 1994-95 and 1993-94. BYU has not won more than 22 games since the 1992-93 season when the Cougars finished 25-9.
There's No Place Like Home
Both BYU and Notre Dame have played their first two NIT games at home. The Cougars will take their first NIT road trip while The Irish will play at the Joyce Center for the third straight game. BYU is 14-2 at home this year. BYU is 5-1 at home in NIT games and 1-2 on the road. This year Cougars are 6-8 on the road and 2-0 at a neutral site. BYU's last road game was also its only previous ESPN game this year, a 23 point loss at UNLV for the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship.
So Far, So Good
The Cougars have played their best basketball of the season in the last several weeks and the last two games have proven to be perhaps the most dominating of the year. BYU averaged 81.5 points while holding its two opponents to 55.5 points in BYU's two NIT victories. The two wins are the Cougars' first back-to-back 20-plus point wins since opening the season with big wins over UC Riverside and Southern Utah (After loss at Arizona, BYU had third 20-plus win at Denver). BYU has shot the ball well in the NIT, making 54 percent of its field goal attempts and nearly 46 percent on threes. BYU's opponents have shot 30.8 percent from the floor and from behind the arc. BYU led the Mountain West Conference in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage defense this year. BYU has also had the rebounding edge, averaging 37.5 boards to 33.5, and has distributed the ball well, dishing out 45 assists (22.5 apg) to only 15 by its opponents (7.5 apg). The Cougars have a + 5.5 turnover margin in the two games, averaging 14 turnovers to 19.5 by its opponents.
BYU had its fourth best shooting night of the year Wednesday vs. Bowling Green, hitting 57 percent from the floor (32-56). The eight three pointers made by the Cougars were the most since making nine at Wyoming. BYU made eight threes again vs. Southern Illinois and shot over 50 percent for the 13th time this season (all BYU wins).
After coming on strong at the end of each of Coach Steve Cleveland's first two seasons, BYU is again playing well at the right time, having won six of its last seven games. The Cougars have held their opponents below 35 percent shooting in each of the six wins (UNLV made 52 percent in the lone loss). In Cleveland's first year, BYU completed a rare sweep of New Mexico and UTEP on the road to earn a WAC tournament berth and last year the Cougars had a blowout win over UTEP before blowing out TCU in an upset first-round win at the WAC tournament. This year in the MWC, BYU advanced to the conference tournament finals for the first time since 1994 with wins over New Mexico and Utah and earned its first post-season bid in five years. BYU is now in the final eight of the NIT.
BYU has vastly improved under Head Coach Steve Cleveland. Since taking over a 1-25 program three years ago, Cleveland has guided BYU to 9-21 and 12-16 seasons in his first two years and 22-10 this year. Last year, BYU improved its home record from 4-10 to 9-5 and won its first WAC Tournament contest since 1994, upsetting heavily favored TCU 90-74. This year Cleveland's team finished 14-2 at home, advanced to the MWC tournament finals, earned 20-plus wins and advanced to elite eight of the NIT. BYU had not had a 20-win season since 1994-95 when they finished 22-10. It was also the last year BYU qualified for a post-season tournament (NCAA).
Top Recruiting Class
During this year's early signing period, Coach Cleveland received NCAA Letters-of-Intent from five players who make up a top-25 recruiting class and the second-best signings among schools west of the Mississippi. Signing were Jesse Pinegar, 6-9 and the No. 1-rated center in the West; Derek Dawes, 6-11 and the No. 3-rated center in the West; Jacob Chrisman, a 6-9 forward; Travis Hansen, a 6-6 transfer from Utah Valley State College; and Austin Ainge, a 6-1 point guard and son of BYU and NBA great Danny Ainge.
BYU's Program is Built to Win
In his third year , Coach Cleveland has made significant strides in rebuilding a program that finished 1-25 before his arrival.
Ã‚â€¢ A top 25 recruiting Class
Ã‚â€¢ #2 among schools West of the Mississippi.
Ã‚â€¢ Top players in Utah commit to BYU
Ã‚â€¢ Top LDS players commit to BYU
2. ON THE COURT:
Ã‚â€¢ First 20-win season in five years
Ã‚â€¢ Three years of improvement:
9-21 in first year (4-10 at home)
12-16 in second year (9-5 at home)
22-10 in third year (14-2 at home)
Ã‚â€¢ Conference tournament finalist (first time in six years)
Ã‚â€¢ Defeated every team in the conference
Ã‚â€¢ Toughest schedule among conference schools for second straight year (this year rated No. 44).
Ã‚â€¢ No. 1 RPI in MWC (Ranked 45 and 46)
Ã‚â€¢ Seven conference champions on the schedule
Ã‚â€¢ Eight post-season teams on schedule, including five NCAA Tournament teams
Ã‚â€¢ NIT invitation and first-round win
Ã‚â€¢ First post-season bid in five years
Ã‚â€¢ Average home attendance improved to 10,794 at home this year
Ã‚â€¢ Attendance at conference home games improved to 13,464 from 11,562
6. IN-STATE RIVALS
Ã‚â€¢ Defeated all four in-state schools
Ã‚â€¢ First time ever BYU has defeated Utah, Utah State, Weber State and Southern Utah in the same year
7. CONFERENCE AWARDS
Ã‚â€¢ Conference Newcomer team members three years in a row
- Ron Selleaze (WAC Newcomer of the Year, newcomer team, 2nd team all-conference, 1997-98)
- Mekeli Wesley (WAC newcomer team, 1997-98; 2nd team all-conference, 1999-2000 )
- Mark Bigelow (WAC freshman of the year, newcomer team, 2nd team all-conference, 1998-99)
- Terrell Lyday (MWC Newcomer of the Year, All-Tournament Team 1999-2000)
8. 100% GRADUATION RATE
Ã‚â€¢ Spring 2000: 6 for 6
BYU's record when . . .
BYU leads at half 19-1
Opponent leads at half 2-8
Score tied at half 1-1
BYU leads with 5 minutes left 21-1
Opponent leads with 5 min. left 0-9
BYU leads with 1 minute left 21-0
Opponent leads with 1 min. left 1-10
Score tied with 1 minute left 0-0
Game goes into overtime 1-0
BYU out rebounds opponent 15-0
Opponent out rebounds BYU 7-10
BYU and opponent tie in rebounds 0-0
BYU shoots 50 % or better 13-0
Opponent shoots 50 % or better 0-6
BYU out shoots opponent 21-1
Opponent out shoots BYU 1-9
More BYU's Record When ...
BYU is 2-1 in games decided by two points or less; 1-2 in 3-5-point games; 4-2 in 6-9-point games; and 15-5 in double-digit margins. Mekeli Wesley has either shared or been BYU's top scorer in 16 games this season and the Cougars are 9-7 in those games. He has also been BYU's top rebounder in 14 games. BYU is 9-5 in those games. BYU is 5-5 in the games when Mekeli Wesley was both the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Terrell Lyday has shared or led BYU in scoring in 14 games, including the last two, and BYU is 10-4 in those contests. When the Cougars get good scoring efforts from its supporting cast, they have been hard to beat. BYU is 10-1 when Michael Vranes has scored in double figures and 7-1 when Christensen scores in double digits. They were 6-1 (all but at UNM) when Rivers reaches double figures, and are 7-1 (all but at AFA) when Eric Nielsen had double digits and 5-2 when Cooper (except UNM and at Utah) has scored 10 or more.
Wesley Moves Up Scoring Ladder
Mekeli Wesley, who now has 1,161 career points, moved into 19th place on BYU's career scoring list, recently passing Doug Howard (1,143 points, 1968-70), Elwood Romney (1,150 points, 1930-33), and Kari Limo (1,156 points, 1967-69). He needs 35 points to surpass Eldon Brinley (1,195 points, 1930-33). Wesley is only the 32nd player in BYU history to reach 1,000 points and only the eighth to do so as a junior (even though he missed part of sophomore season). Danny Ainge (1978-81) tops the career list at 2,467 points. Other players to reach 1,000 points before the end of their junior years were Ainge, Michael Smith, Devin Durrant, Russell Larson, Fred and Ken Roberts and Jeff Chatman.
BYU's defense has been a large part of the Cougars success this year as is evident by its two NIT wins and its two MWC tournament wins last week. BYU held Southern Illinois to 29 percent and Bowling Green, rated the third best shooting team in the nation coming into the game, to 33 percent shooting. In BYU's two MWC Tournament wins, BYU held its opponents to 29 percent shooting, including 20 percent on threes. BYU held Utah to its season low in FG percentage (30.9) and FGs made (17). Only six teams have shot 50 percent or better against BYU. UNLV shot 52 percent, Wyoming shot 51 percent; CSU 58.5; UNM 51; and Utah 56 percent. Arizona is the other team at 54 percent. In BYU's four other losses, S. Alabama shot .490, UNM .452, Utah .429 and AFA .392. The Cougars ranked first in the MWC in both field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense. They have held opponents below a 40 percent shooting in 19 games. BYU is 18-1 in those games (exception - at Air Force). BYU holds opponents to 63.8 points. Individually BYU has had outstanding defensive efforts, including Michael Vranes containing Lamont Long at the MWC tournament and Terrell Lyday helping hold Eddie House of Arizona State to a 0-16 night -- the only time House has gone without a field goal in his career.
With its 82-57 win over SIU and its 81-54 win over Bowling Green, BYU has scored more than 80 points in a eight games and averages 71.1 points. BYU has shot better than 50 percent in 13 games (all wins), including 51 percent vs. SIU and 57 percent vs. Bowling Green. BYU made a season-best 61.2 percent of its attempts vs. AFA during its last regular season homestand. With their loss at UNLV, the Cougars have shot below 40 percent five times -- 39.6 at UNLV, 38.1 at CSU, 36.5 percent in a loss at NCAA No. 1-seed Arizona, a season-low 29.6 in a win at UCSB and 29.6 percent at AFA. The Cougars are shooting 46.4 percent (37.9 on threes and 69.8 percent from the line. BYU is 13-0 when it shots 50 percent or better and 21-1 when it out shoots its opponent (except at AFA). Eric Nielsen makes 58.5 percent to lead BYU. Mekeli Wesley makes 48.2 percent while Todd Christensen (46.0) and Terrell Lyday (46.0) have the best percentages from the back court. Cooper makes a team-best 78 percent from the line.
The Cougars out shot their opponents in six of last seven games (21-1 in on year when they out shoot the opponent and 1-9 when they don't). BYU shot a season-best 61.2 percent vs. AFA at home and shot better than 50 percent in both NIT games. The Cougars are 13-0 when they shoot 50 percent or better. In BYU's seven conference losses this year, the Cougars shot 40 percent from the floor in three games, 41 percent in three and 38 percent in one. In BYU's seven conference wins, the Cougars shot 42, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54 and 61percent from the floor.
BYU won its last two games after having a four-game winning streak come to an end vs UNLV in the MWC tournament title game. BYU has won six of its last seven games. This year the Cougars have had two five-game winning streaks. BYU has had three two-game losing streaks this year, all in conference play, but has not lost three straight games this year. Last year BYU had two three-game losing streaks and one four-game skid. BYU is 2-0 on a neutral floor. BYU had a four-game road winning streak earlier this year, which was the longest road win streak since 1992-93, when the Cougars won six straight road games. BYU has lost its last four road games.
Assist vs. Turnover Trends
BYU surpassed 20 assists in a game for the sixth time this year (all wins) while matching its season high with 23 assists vs. SIU. BYU had 22 assists vs. Bowling Green. BYU had 21 assists at home game vs. UNLV. Other games were Denver (21), vs. Texas Southern (20) and vs. South Carolina State (23). BYU has 12 assists and 13 turnovers (11 in first half) at UNLV. BYU had a season-low six turnovers vs. Utah and 7 assists (fourth time with single-digit assists). It marked the first back-to-back turnover games for BYU this year (and fourth of the year) after BYU had 11 assists and 8 turnovers vs. UNM. BYU had 14 assists and 17 turnovers vs. SDSU and 16 assists and 12 turnovers vs. AFA. In the previous two games BYU had a season-low six assists at CSU and only nine assists at Wyoming, its third lowest total of the year. Against MWC opponents, BYU has had more assists than turnovers in seven of 17 games. On the year, BYU averages 14.5 assists and 13.8 turnovers. (Last year BYU averaged 17.3 turnovers per game to only 12.8 assists). In conference play, BYU averaged 12.9 assists and 14.6 turnovers in 14 games. BYU has had 17 games this year where it has had more assists than turnovers, one game when assists equaled turnovers and 14 games when it has had more turnovers than assists.
BYU shot 44 percent vs. SIU (8-18) and 47 percent vs. Bowling Green (8-17). BYU was 3-12 at UNLV, 3-13 vs. Utah and 4-13 vs. UNM. BYU has shot 50 percent or better nine times this year. The Cougars are 8-1 when they shoot 50 percent or better on three-point attempts (lost at S.Alabama despite hitting season high 61.5 percent on threes). BYU made nine threes, two off its high for the season, while attempting a season-high 23 treys at Wyoming. BYU has made nine or more threes three previous times this season -- all in road wins (11 at FIU, 9 at Utah State and 10 at UNLV). Since entering its first game with CSU when BYU was third in the nation in three-point shooting at 42 percent, BYU went 55-168 (.327) on threes in the next 11 games to finish the regular season and fall to 38.3 percent. BYU had a 5-6 record in those games. In those 11 games, Terrell Lyday shot 17-52 (.327) on threes, Michael Vranes 9-29 (.310), Mekeli Wesley 7-24 (.292),Nathan Cooper 6-16 (.375) and Todd Christensen 13-34 (.382).
Lyday From Behind the Arc
Lyday set a BYU record streak for consecutive games with a three-pointer at 21 this year (first 21 games). The prior consecutive games record was 16 set by Andy Toolson in 1990. Lyday made 2-6 vs. SIU and 5-6 vs. Bowling Green -- the eighth time he has made three or more treys in a game this year. He has made a three in 30 of BYU's 32 games this year. He has 19 games this year with two or more threes in a game.
BYU Tops MWC in RPI
According to CollegeRPI.com rankings computed by Jerry Palm and the Collegiate Basketball News, BYU is the highest rated team in the MWC with a ranking of 46 and 45 respectively. According to CBN, BYU also has the toughest schedule at No. 44.
BYU has had the two largest crowds among NIT games this year with 1,010 vs. Bowling Green and 16,949 Monday vs. Southern Illinois (average of 13,480). BYU's largest crowd this year came at home against Utah in the Marriott Center on Jan. 15. The 22,580 made up the eighth largest fan attendance this season in Division I. The largest crowd BYU has seen on the road this year was 17,242 at New Mexico. BYU has averaged 10,410 at home this year, including 13,464 during the conference season.
On the Boards
BYU is pulling down 34.2 rebounds per game and its opponents 35.4. The Cougars are 15-0 when they have out rebounded their opponents and 7-10 when the opposition totalled more boards. BYU out boarded SIU 38-37 and Bowling Green 37-30 but was out boarded in all three MWC tournament games the previous week. Eric Nielsen averaging 6.6 rpg during the tournament. In its last homestand of the regular season, BYU had 42 rbs vs. SDSU, the seventh time BYU has had over 40 rebounds this year. Mekeli Wesley leads BYU with 5.9 rebounds per game, including a team-best 144 defensive boards and 46 offensive boards (Nielsen has 40 and Cooper 38). BYU was out boarded in nine of its 14 regular season MWC games (Utah, UNM, AFA, Wyo, Utah, UNM, UNLV, CSU, Wyoming).
Coach Cleveland Show
Radio: Coach Steve Cleveland can be heard Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. with host Greg Wrubell on KSL Newsradio 1160 AM.
BYU Starting Lineups
UCR Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
SUU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Ariz. Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Den. Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
ASU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
TSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
WSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
SCSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
USA Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
FIU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
UCSB Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
UCI Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
USU Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
UNLV Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Utah Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
Wyo Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
CSU Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
AFA Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
UNM Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
SDSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Utah Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
UNM Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley
UNLV Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
CSU Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley
Wyo Vranes, Lyday, Roberts, Nielsen, Wesley
AFA Vranes, Christensen, Lyday, Cooper, Wesley
SDSU Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
UNM Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
Utah Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
UNLV Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
BGSU Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
SIU Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley
Starting Lineup Record (total)
Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley 10-5 (15)
Montague, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley 2-1 (3)
Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Nielsen, Wesley 4-1 (5)
Christensen, Lyday, Vranes, Rivers, Wesley 0-1 (1)
Vranes, Lyday, Roberts, Nielsen, Wesley 0-1 (1)
Vranes, Christensen, Lyday, Cooper, Wesley 1-0 (1)
Vranes, Lyday, Cooper, Nielsen, Wesley 5-1 (6)
The starting lineup of Michael Vranes, Terrell Lyday, Nathan Cooper, Eric Nielsen and Mekeli Wesley has started the last six games and is now 5-1 as a group. Nathan Cooper has started the last seven games, his only starts of the season, and BYU is 6-1 in those games. BYU coach Cleveland has used seven different lineups this season.
Mekeli Wesley Ã‚â€¢ 17.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (17.4, 5.4 MWC Games)
Wesley is BYU's top rebounder and has been BYU's leading scorer much of the year. He has scored 8 pts less than Terrell Lyday. He has been BYU's top scorer in 16 games this season and has scored in double figures in 29 of BYU's 32 games, including a string of 18 straight at one point of the season. He has 11 games with 20 or more points and one game with more than 30. He had 16 pts and game-high 9 rbs vs SIU and 13 pts, team-best 7 rbs vs. BGSU. In the MWC tournament, he had 10 pts, 6rbs vs. UNM and 7 pts, 4 rbs vs. Utah and 19 pts, 6 rbs vs. UNLV. He had 15 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assts, 2 blks, 1 steal vs. SDSU Saturday. He had a game-high 18 pts, including 14 in the first half, and a team-high 7 rbs vs. AFA. He scored a game-high 25 pts, and 4 rbs, team-best 3 assts, and 2 steals at Wyoming. He was 2-9 for 11 pts and only 2 rbs at CSU Thursday. Despite playing on a sprained ankle last week, he scored a team-high 22 vs. UNLV along with a career-best 6 assists. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. He had 16 points in 30 minutes vs. UNM. When he scored his 11th point at UNM he became the 32nd BYU player to reach 1,000 career points and only the eighth to do so as a junior. He tied Terrell Lyday with a game-high 14 points at Utah and had a team-best 6 rebounds. He hit two treys to help BYU take an early 18-9 lead. He recorded game highs with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead BYU to a 72-50 road win at San Diego State Thursday. After two bad shooting nights at AFA and UNM, Wesley responded by hitting 6-11 shots, including 1-2 three-pointers, to help the Cougars break its first two-game losing skid of the season. He added two steals and a block and assist in 25 minutes against the Aztecs. He went 3-12 from the floor at UNM (10 points, 7 rebounds) and scored a team-high 12 points (4-10 shooting) at Air Force and only had two rebounds, matching his season low (2 vs. SUU). He had 13 points in 21 minutes vs. CSU and scored a career- and conference-play high 34 points vs. Wyoming (he scored 31 points twice as a freshman) and had team highs of 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He had game highs of 21 points and 7 rebounds against Utah. He scored 17 points and had 4 rebounds at UNLV Monday. He scored 11 points and had a team highs with 8 rebounds and 3 assists at Utah State. He scored 18 points and pulled down 6 boards against UC Irvine. He had 6 rebounds and scored a game-high 24 points, 16 in the second half, at UCSB. He had 8 points, 7 rebounds at FIU. He had a game-high 20 points at South Alabama. He averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds to earn MWC Player of the Week honors (Dec. 7-11) and was named the Cougar Classic MVP for the second time in his career (also as freshman). He recorded his first double-double of the year (fourth of career) with 24 points, 10 rebounds in win over Texas Southern. He scored a season-high 26 points in back-to-back games this year versus Denver and ASU.
Terrell Lyday Ã‚â€¢ 17.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (17.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg MWC Games)
Lyday leads the team in scoring and plays a team-high 33.1 minutes. He has scored in double figures in 30 of BYU's 32 games, including the last 21 straight games. He made a three-pointer in a BYU record 21 straight games this season before his streak came to an end at home vs. UNM when he went 0-4 (the previous record was 16 games by Andy Toolson in 1990). Lyday has made a three in 30 of 32 games overall. He has made a team-high 65 threes. He has excelled as a defender and helped hold Arizona State's high scoring Eddie House to 5 points on 0-16 shooting, the only time House has not scored a field goal in his career. House has the top two scoring games in the nation this year (61 and 46). Lyday had a team-high 19 pts with 5 rbs vs. SIU and team-high 15pts in 20 minutes vs. BGSU. He was named to the MWC All-Tournament Team, averaging 19 pts and 5 rbs in three games. He scored a game-high 23 vs. UNM, 16 vs. Utah and 18 pts vs. UNLV. He had a game-high 19 pts, with 6 rbs, 5 assts and 4 steals vs. SDSU. Lyday had 10 pts, 3 rbs and tied career-best 5 assists vs. AFA and had 17 pts, 4 rbs, 3 steals at Wyoming. He scored a game-high 20 vs. CSU along with team-high 4 rbs. He scored 17 and had career-best 5 assists vs. UNLV and scored a game-high 29, his third-best effort of the year, vs. UNM in 34 minutes. He had 14 points and 4 assists at Utah. He was only 4-11 from the floor, 1-4 on treys and 5-8 form the line. He had 12 points and 5 rebounds at SDSU. He scored 17 first-half points at UNM and 21 in the game. Playing on a sprained ankle, he was 4-11 (11 pts) vs. AFA. He had game-high 15 vs. CSU and scored 22 points vs. Wyoming. He had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists vs. Utah. Lyday made 5-10 threes, scored 30 points and had a career-high 11 rebounds and tied a career-best with 6 steals at UNLV. It was his first double-double of the year. He was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week (Jan. 3-8) after averaged 28.5 points and shooting better than 60 percent from the floor and on threes in two BYU wins. He carried BYU to a win at Utah State with a career-high 35 points, including six three-pointers, and scored a game-high 22 points to lead a BYU comeback win over UC Irvine. He had career-best 6 steals at UCSB, despite an off night scoring (2-11 for 8 points and held scoreless in the first half for the first time this year). He scored 26 points at FIU and had 15 points against South Alabama, where he was a perfect 4-4 on three-point attempts. He joined Wesley on the Cougar Classic All-Tournament team. He scored 18 pts against Arizona and had 17 vs. ASU.
Lyday Named to All-Tourney Team
Terrell Lyday averaged 19 points and five rebounds and was named to the Mountain West Conference All-Tournament Team.
Silester Rivers Ã‚â€¢ Out after knee surgery
Rivers is out for the year after having surgery on his left knee. He averaged 6.6 points (4th on team) and 4.5 rebounds (2nd on team) and had a team-best 40 offensive rebounds while shooting 53.8 percent. He scored in double figures seven times and led the team in rebounding five times (6 vs. UC Riverside, 9 at Denver, 11 at FIU, 9 at UNM, 9 at Wyoming). He had 9 rbs, 5 pts in 19 minutes at Wyoming and did not take a shot and had 3 rbs in seven minutes at CSU. Despite fouling out, he gave BYU 21 solid minutes while banging Kaspars Kambala of UNLV (he was 2-3 for 4 pts, 3 rbs). He started vs. UNM but got in quick foul trouble and only played 5 minutes without scoring (0-1) while grabbing four rbs. He played 20 minutes at Utah and did not take a shot while grabbing two rbs and committing three fouls. He fouled out with 15 minutes remaining at SDSU (3 pts, 2 rbs). He played well with 12 pts, team-high 9 rbs at UNM in 29 minutes off the bench (only 6-12 from the line). He played only eight minutes at AFA but had 7 pts, 2 rbs, 2 assts. He scored 9 points vs. CSU and 8 points vs. Wyoming. He started his third game of the year vs. Utah and had 5 points, 4 rebounds while guarding the much larger Ute post players. Rivers had 3 points (3-4 FTs) and 5 rebounds at UNLV. He had a strong outing at Utah State, scoring 15 points (some nice post moves), 7 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. Rivers came off the bench against UC Irvine after starting the two previous games. Despite being weakened by the flu, he contributed 5 points and 6 rebounds in 11 minutes. He started his second straight game against UCSB but was 0-2 with 4 rebounds in 17 minutes. He played a season-high 31 minutes in his first start at Florida International and had double-double 10 points and season-high 11 rebounds. He scored 8 pts in 12 minutes at South Alabama. He scored game- and season-high 17 points against South Carolina State. He had 10 points versus Arizona State and 14 points in back-to-back games to open the year against UC Riverside and Southern Utah.
Michael Vranes Ã‚â€¢ 7.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (7.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg MWC Games)
Vranes is third on the team in scoring and second in assists at 2.8 apg. He has made a trey in 21 games. He has scored in double figures in 11 games (BYU is 10-1 in those games). Playing wing most the year, he has started at the point in the last seven games (he played point most of last year). He had 13 pts, 6 rbs, 5 assts vs. SIU and was one off his season high with 14 pts, and 5 assts vs. BGSU. He had 3 pts, 5 assts vs. UNLV. He held Utah's Tony Harvey to 2 pts and 1 asst and was called upon to shut down UNM's Lamont Long defensively. He had 5 pts, 2 rbs vs. SDSU and had 7 pts, 2 rbs, 3 assts vs. AFA. He had 10 pts (4-5 FG, 2-3 treys), 4 rbs at Wyoming. He had 9 pts, 3 rbs, 4 steals at CSU and scored 12 points and had team-high 7 rbs along with 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block vs. UNLV. He had 7 pts and game-high 6 assts vs. UNM but no rebounds for the first time all year. He had 7 pts, 1 rbd at Utah and had 12 points at SDSU after recording only three total points in the two previous games. At UNM, he went 1-6 shooting (3 pts, 2 rbs, 2 assts). Fighting the flu, he went 0-3 and did not score for the first time in his career at Air Force. He had a team-high 7 rebounds vs. CSU and 11 pts. He had 8 pts, 5 rbs , 3 assts vs. Wyoming. He had 4 pts, 4 rbs, 3 assts vs. Utah. He had 9 pts, 4 rbs at UNLV and 9 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assts at Utah State. He had 11 pts, 5 rbs, 5 assts against UC Irvine. Vranes matched a career high with a team-best 9 rebounds at UCSB and had a team-high 3 assists despite 3 points on 1-9 shooting. He scored 8 of his 12 pts in OT at FIU. He had 10 pts, 6 rbs and a season-high 7 assists vs. South Carolina State. He had a season-high 15 pts along with 5 rbs vs. Weber State.
Todd Christensen Ã‚â€¢ 5.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (5.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg MWC Games)
Christensen shoots 46 percent, including 42.4 percent on threes. He plays both guard spots and has started in seven games. He played 16 minutes with 6 pts (2-4 on threes) vs. SIU and played only 8 minutes (0 pts, 3 assts) vs. BGSU. He had 8 pts. at UNLV, 7 pts vs. Utah in 12 minutes and 2 pts in only 3 minutes vs. UNM. He had 4 pts, 2 rbs in 22 minutes vs. SDSU and had 2 pts, 1 asst in 17 minutes vs. AFA. He had 10 pts (3-6 treys) at Wyoming and 3 pts at CSU. He was one off his season high vs. UNLV, scoring 15 pts (3-4 on treys). He took a season-high 10 shots and made 5 to equal his season best for field goals made. He 2 pts in 16 minutes vs. UNM. He scored 7 pts at Utah and totaled 11 pts at SDSU, including a 3-4 night from long range. He hit two treys for 6 pts at AFA. He did not score (0-3 -- all treys), 3 assts vs. CSU. He had 7 pts, 3 assts vs. Wyoming. He did not score, taking only one shot, vs. Utah. At UNLV, he had 8 pts, including a clutch three-pointer to put the Cougars up four late in the game. At Utah State he scored 7 early pts to help BYU shot 57 percent in the first half. Christensen scored 13 pts, including a four-point play at UCSB. Against UCSB and FIU he was 9-16 (.562) from the floor, 6-11 (.545) on treys, and 3-3 from the line while averaging 13.5 ppg. He scored all of his 14 pts in the first half at FIU (4-5 treys in 11 minutes). He had a season-high 16 pts, including 5-8 threes, vs. South Carolina State (10 at Denver).
Matt Montague Ã‚â€¢ 2.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.7 apg Ã‚â€¢ (3.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.3 apg MWC)
The only true point guard on the roster, he has a team-leading 117 assists. He has started 18 games, including the first 12. He had 2 pts and season-high 10 assts vs. SIU and 6 pts, 3 assts vs. BGSU. He played 9 minutes vs. UNLV (2 pts, 3 assts). Played only 4 minutes vs. Utah (1 pt) and 11 minutes vs. UNM (did not score) without recording an assist in either game (now three games this year without an assist). He had 7 pts, matched season-best 6 rbs, and 4 assts in 28 minutes vs. SDSU and had 6 pts, 2 rbs, 2 assts, 2 steals in 20 minutes vs. AFA. He had 4 rbs, 1 asst, 2 steals in 22 minutes at Wyoming after playing only 12 minutes at CSU. He had 2 pts, 3 rbs, 4 assts (no turnovers) vs. UNLV in 15 minutes. He made his third trey of the year at Utah (5 pts, 3 assts in 18 minutes. He had 4 pts, 6 assts at UNM in 36 minutes. He took season-high 7 shots and scored season-best 9 points at AFA (6 assts). He had 5 assts, 5 rbs , 2 pts vs. CSU and 7 pts vs. Wyoming. He had 6 pts, 7 assts at UNLV. At Utah State he played 25 minutes off the bench and had 4 points, 2 assists. He was limited to 10 minutes (achilles) against UC Irvine and did not record an assist for the first time this year. Montague made three clutch free throws down the stretch at UCSB. He had 2 pts, 4 rbs , 8 assts in team- and personal career-high 41 minutes at FIU. He shared team-high 5 rebounds with Wesley at South Alabama (4 assts). After receiving stitches to repair a cut above his eye against ASU, Montague returned and led BYU on a 14-1 run. He dished out a season-high 9 assists vs. Weber State and helped hold Wildcat guard Eddie Gill to 2-14 shooting.
Eric Nielsen Ã‚â€¢ 5.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (5.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg MWC Games)
Nielsen has started 27 games. After scoring 10 and 12 points in first two games, he went 14 straight outings without reaching double digits until scoring 10 points in back-to-back games ( vs. CSU and at AFA). He has eight double-digit games, including three of the last four. He had 10 pts on 5-6 shooting vs. SIU and was 6-6 for 13 pts vs. BGSU. In the MWC tournament, he set career-highs the first two days (11 rbs vs. UNM and 17 pts vs. Utah). He averaged 12.5 pts, 10 rbs in the two wins but had 2 pts and no rbs at UNLV. He started vs. SDSU, 8 pts, 3 rbs after coming off the bench vs. AFA (2 pts, 2 rbs, 15 min.). He had 1 pt, 6 rbs at Wyoming and 5 pts, 2 rbs at CSU. He had 11 pts in 22 minutes vs. UNLV and had only one foul after having fouled out of the previous three games. He had 7 pts, 4 rbs in 24 minutes vs. UNM. He had 4 pts, 2 rbs at Utah. He had 9 pts, 4 rbs and a team-high 3 assists at SDSU. He was 4-6 for 8 points, 5 boards at UNM and had a career-best 9 boards (4-5, 10 pts) at AFA. He had 6 rebounds, 3 steals vs. CSU. He didn't score for the second time this year vs. Wyoming. He fouled out, playing 14 minutes, scoring 2 points on one attempt and had 1 rebound vs. Utah. In foul trouble, he played only 10 minutes at UNLV (2 pts, 4 rebounds). At Utah State he was held scoreless and had 4 rebounds. He had 4 points, 3 rebounds and a season-high 3 assists vs. UC Irvine. At UCSB, he equaled a then career-best 7 rebounds. He was married to BYU All-American volleyball player Anna-Lena Smith Dec. 30 in Mesa, Ariz. He had 8 points at South Alabama and at Denver. He scored a season-high 12 points versus SUU and had 10 against UC Riverside.
Nathan Cooper Ã‚â€¢ 5.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (4.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg MWC Games)
Since Silester Rivers' surgery, Cooper has started the last seven games (he started 23 of 28 games last year). He had 2 pts, 5 rbs, 3 assts vs. SIU and 4 pts, 5 rbs, 6 assts vs. BGSU. He had 2 pts in 16 minutes at UNLV and played season-high 35 minutes vs. Utah (9 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assts). He had 2 pts vs. UNM. In his first start vs. AFA, he responded with 14 pts, 4 rbs in 29 minutes. He shoots team-best 78 percent from the line. He has seven double-figures scoring games and has made a trey in nine games. He had 4 pts, season-high 9 rbs vs. SDSU. Prior to his first start, he had not scored in the three previous games, playing 8 minutes at Wyoming, 16 minutes at CSU and 7 minutes vs. UNLV. He had team-best 6 rbs along with 7 pts, 2 assts vs. UNM in 27 minutes. He hit 3-4 treys and scored 11 pts along with 5 rbs at Utah. He had 6 pts, 3 rbs at SDSU. He broke out of a slump with 11 straight BYU pts, 9 in 1:40, and 5 rbs in 12 minutes at UNM. He did not score for first time this year and had 1 rebound at AFA. He had 4 pts, 5 rbs and 2 assts vs. CSU after scoring 1 point vs. Wyoming. He had 5 pts, 3 rbs vs. Utah. He was forced to play the 4 position at UNLV with foul trouble to Eric Nielsen and Silester Rivers. He played 22 minutes (2 pts, 1 rbd). He played 15 minutes at Utah State, scoring 1 point and adding 2 rbs, 2 assts. He and Michael Vranes received the coaches game ball for their effort against UC Irvine (Cooper had 14 pts, 4 rbs in 31 minutes). He scored BYU's first basket at UCSB five minutes into the contest and sparked an 8-0 run with a steal, forcing a turnover and handing out an assist. He finished with 3 pts, 3 rbs. He had 5 pts, 6 rbs effort at FIU. He set a career high with 7 assts at USA. He scored a season- and team-high 15 pts vs. Weber State.
David Nielsen Ã‚â€¢ 2.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (1.6 ppg, 0.6 rpg MWC Games)
A redshirt freshman, Nielsen has played in 13 of the last 16 games, including the last nine straight. He has played in 19 games this year and averages 8.5 minutes. He had a career-best 8 pts vs. SIU in 19 minutes after playing a career-high 34 minutes vs. BGSU (7 pts, career-best 7 rbs, 2 assts, 3 steals). He played 13 minutes vs. UNLV and 18 minutes vs. UNM, having to guard players six inches taller than he is while adding 4 pts and 2 rbs on 2-3 shooting. He played 10 minutes with 2 rbs, 1 asst vs. Utah. He played a 16 minutes vs. AFA and tied a then career-best 6 pts, 2 rbs, along with 1 assist. He had 2 rbs in seven minutes at CSU. He scoring 4 points at SDSU and scored 6 points vs. Texas Southern. He is 7-13 from the floor and 12-15 from the line.
John Allen Ã‚â€¢ 1.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (1.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg MWC Games)
A walkon freshman, Allen has played in 17 games this year, and averages 5 minutes. He had 2 pts, 3 rbs in six minutes vs. SIU and career-best 6 pts in 5 minutes vs. BGSU. He played 7 minutes at UNLV and 6 minutes vs. Utah, where he picked up 4 fouls while trying to give Mekeli Wesley a breather because of foul trouble. He had 4 pts in 5 minutes vs. AFA and 2 pts in 6 minutes at Wyoming. He played a season-high 11 minutes vs. UNM with 4 pts, 3 rbs. He was 1-2 from the floor, including 1-1 on threes (his first).
Marc Roberts Ã‚â€¢ 1.4 ppg, 0.5 rpg Ã‚â€¢ (1.1 ppg, 0.5 rpg MWC Games)
Roberts had two spectacular dunks (4 pts) in 3 minutes vs. SIU. He had 3 pts (3-4 FTs) in 5 minutes vs. BGSU and 2 pts in each of the three previous games in late action, including a spectacular left-handed jam at UNLV. He has seen action in 13 of the last 16 games. He started for the first time at Wyoming and was 0-1 (a trey),1 rbd, 2 assts in nine minutes. He was 2-2 from the floor and 2-2 from the line for a career-best 6 pts in seven minutes at CSU.