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Anonymous | Posted: 12 Mar 2004 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

A Heartbreaker Ends Winning Streak


DENVER -- The Mountain West Conference Tournament ended for the No. 2-seeded BYU men's basketball team on Friday, with a heartbreaking 54-51 loss to the No. 3-seeded University of Utah at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

The loss snapped the Cougars' nine-game winning streak that had pushed their overall record to 21-8 and 10-4 in the MWC. It also means the Cougars will not receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and must await a decision from the NCAA Selection Committee.

"It's hard to know what the committee is thinking, I know that our credentials are solid in every area," said head coach Steve Cleveland. "If you compare our criteria with other teams in the West, we are right at the top. This team has done everything it can do to get a berth."

Some of what the Cougars have done is go 9-1 in their last 10 games -- one of the biggest criteria for the committee. The team improved its RPI ranking to a conference best No. 27 and went from last place in conference to finishing second in the regular season.

"In my 27 years of coaching I have never seen a team as focused as this one, to come from last to second and win nine games in a row," said Cleveland.

On the night, BYU shot 46.7 percent on 21-of-45 shooting with senior Rafael Araujo scoring a team-high 13 points and pulling down eight rebounds. Both junior Mike Hall and senior Luiz Lemes contributed nine points for BYU to round out the top three Cougars scorers.

The Cougars put up 20 points in the first half. It was their second-lowest point total in a half on the season after a 19-point performance at the Air Force Academy back on Jan. 24.

"It wasn't our best offensive game but we found our offense in the second half," said Cleveland. "We found the flow (in the second half) and put ourselves in a position to win but it came down to the end and we lost," said Cleveland.

"We could never find our rhythm," said senior guard Mark Bigelow, "We weren't aggressive and nobody could hit a shot. If you score 20 points in the first half you are going to be in trouble in any game."

Cleveland added, "We've won games in the last few seconds but tonight it didn't happen. We've had the ball bounce our way many times in the last six week -- just not tonight."

The first half turned into a defensive battle with both teams struggling from the field. BYU went a combined 8-for-23 for 20 points while Utah was 9-of-26 for 26 points over the first 20 minutes.

Utah struck first in the half, connecting on back-to-back threes before Hall knocked down a trey of his own at the 17:17 mark.

The Cougars' Woodberry tied up the ball game at 12 apiece with a three point shot of his own but the tie didn't last long as the Utes went on a 7-2 run over the next six minutes to pull ahead 19-14 with 4:21 to go before the break.

With 2:32 left in the half, Araujo was fouled by the Utes' Andrew Bogut but a questionable elbow to Bogut's head landed Araujo his first foul of the game in the form of a technical.

Utah's Nick Jacobson made good on one of his two technical free throws to make it a 20-16 game.

In the final minute of the half it was senior Jake Shoff that brought BYU to within six at 26-20 going into the break by connecting on two free throws and a tip-in with two seconds to go.

Coming out of the break, the Utes pushed their lead to 10 at 39-29, their largest lead of the game.

But BYU didn't lay down and the Cougars came roaring back with a 10-2 run, capped by a break-away layup by Hall at the 6:27 mark to tie up the game at 43 all.

The Cougars kept a hold of the Utes through the remainder of regulation, allowing the Utes to get up by no more than four points the rest of the way.

With time winding down and BYU trailing 52-48, Araujo stepped up and knocked down a three-pointer from the left side with 39 seconds to play, bringing the Cougars to within one at 52-51.

But with 7.7 seconds on the clock and four seconds on the shot clock, Cougar guard Kevin Woodberry was called for a foul. The foul reset the shot clock and Araujo picked up his fifth foul trying to stop the clock on the inbound play.

The Utes went on to win the barnburner 54-51 as Hall's last-second three-point attempt just fell short of the hole and bounced off the front of the rim as time ran out.

BYU will now wait to hear from the NCAA Selection Committee as to whether it will be invited to the NCAA Tournament.

Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS

Utah vs Brigham Young

03-12-04 7:00 p.m. at Denver, Colo. (Pepsi Center)


VISITORS: Utah 23-8 (9-5 MWC)



04 BOGUT, Andrew....... f 4-8 1-2 0-0 1 5 6 2 9 5 2 0 0 35

13 CHANEY, Richard..... f 3-6 0-1 0-0 2 0 2 1 6 1 1 3 1 28

54 FROST, Tim.......... c 3-7 1-1 3-4 2 4 6 3 10 2 2 0 0 29

11 DRISDOM, Tim........ g 0-4 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 7 0 0 2 35

15 JACOBSON, Nick...... g 7-18 4-11 1-2 0 7 7 2 19 0 1 0 0 37

02 OLSEN, Josh......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 5

05 HAWKINS, Justin..... 3-4 0-1 2-2 2 2 4 1 8 2 1 1 0 25

20 MARKSON, Bryant..... 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 6

TEAM................ 1 1

Totals.............. 21-50 6-16 6-8 8 21 29 13 54 17 8 4 3 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-26 34.6% 2nd Half: 12-24 50.0% Game: 42.0% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-10 40.0% 2nd Half: 2-6 33.3% Game: 37.5% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 4-6 66.7% 2nd Half: 2-2 100 % Game: 75.0% 1


HOME TEAM: Brigham Young 21-8 (10-4 MW)



03 BIGELOW, Mark....... f 2-8 0-1 0-0 0 4 4 0 4 2 2 1 1 31

41 MEADS, Garner....... f 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 2 2 1 9

55 ARAUJO, Rafael...... c 6-10 1-1 0-0 0 8 8 5 13 0 1 0 0 34

01 HALL, Mike.......... g 3-9 1-1 2-5 0 3 3 1 9 1 1 0 0 37

04 LEMES, Luiz......... g 4-10 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 2 9 2 2 0 2 33

00 WOODBERRY, Kevin.... 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 3 3 3 3 6 1 0 0 21

02 ROSE, Mike.......... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 5

05 SHOFF, Jake......... 2-2 0-0 2-2 1 0 1 2 6 0 0 0 1 19

10 NASHIF, Terry....... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

52 JENSEN, Jared....... 2-2 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 0 4 1 0 1 0 9

TEAM................ 2 2 1

Totals.............. 21-45 5-8 4-7 5 22 27 14 51 12 10 4 5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 8-23 34.8% 2nd Half: 13-22 59.1% Game: 46.7% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-4 50.0% 2nd Half: 3-4 75.0% Game: 62.5% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 2-2 100 % 2nd Half: 2-5 40.0% Game: 57.1% 1


Officials: David Hall, Randy McCall, Larry Spaulding

Technical fouls: Utah-None. Brigham Young-ARAUJO, Rafael.

Attendance: 9653

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Utah.......................... 26 28 - 54

Brigham Young................. 20 31 - 51


Mountain West Conference Tournament Semifinal Game

Technical Foul on Araujo of BYU at 1st/2:32.

Points in the paint-UT 26,BY 16. Points off turnovers-UT 23,BY 8.

2nd chance points-UT 6,BY 8. Fast break points-UT 3,BY 5.

Bench points-UT 10,BY 16. Score tied-3 times. Lead changes-2 times.


Brett Pyne | Posted: 12 Mar 2004 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020
Brett Pyne

Game 29 - BYU Faces Utah in MWC Semifinal


Riding a season-best nine-game winning streak, No. 2-seed BYU (21-7, 10-4 MWC) will face the No. 3-seed Utah Utes (22-8, 9-5 MWC) Friday in the semifinals of the 2004 Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Championship in Denver. The two teams split the regular season series with home wins. The game is a 7 p.m. start in the Pepsi Center and is being televised regionally on ESPN+Plus and is available nationally via ESPN Full Court. The radio broadcast of the game can be heard on KSL Newsradio 1160, beginning with a one-hour pregame show. Live audio and live stats are available online by selecting the basketball schedule page of the official BYU athletics website, Live audio is also available on, via BYU Radio on the Dish Network and at


The BYU vs. Utah winner will advance to the MWC Championship title game Saturday at 8 p.m. (ESPN).


BYU COUGARS (21-7, 10-4 MWC) vs. UTAH UTES (22-8, 9-5 MWC)

FRIDAY, MARCH 12, 2004



7 p.m. (MST)


BYU, Steve Cleveland (129-85 in seventh year; same overall)

Utah, Kerry Rupp (acting coach 7-3 in first season; third season overall at Utah)


Utah leads, 119-117; The season series was split with each team winning at home


ESPN+Plus (KJZZ-TV-14 in Salt Lake City; available nationally on ESPN Full Court)

Air Time: 7 p.m. (MST)

Play-by-Play: Rich Waltz

Game Analyst: Irv Brown


KSL Newsradio 1160 AM (Cougar Sports Network)

Pregame Air Time: 6 p.m. (MST)

Play-by-Play: Greg Wrubell

Game Analyst: Mark Durrant


Live stats and audio links are available at (select 2003-04 schedule); audio also available on and via BYU Radio on the Dish Network and at


The Cougars (21-7, 10-4) has won a season-best nine straight games and finished second in the MWC at 10-4. The preseason favorite to win the conference, BYU finished nonconference play with a 10-3 record, including the Cable Car Classic title and wins over nationally ranked Oklahoma State and the Pac-10's USC. BYU has the MWC's top RPI and strength of schedule ratings. BYU returns four starters from last year's 23-9 co-championship team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Senior center Rafael Araujo is the league's Co-Player of the Year and an All-MWC First Team pick, while four-year starter Mark Bigelow earned second-team honors and JC transfer Mike Hall garnered third-team recognition and was named MWC Defensive Player of the Year. Senior guard Kevin Woodberry and junior forward Jared Jensen were starters last season but primarily come off the bench this year. Newcomers Hall and freshmen Garner Meads have earned starting assignments. Araujo is averaging 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds to lead BYU this year. Bigelow adds 13.6 points and 3.8 rebounds while Hall contributes 12.8 points and 3.5 rebounds. First-year starter Luiz Lemes, a senior combo guard in his second year in Provo, leads the team in assists (4.5). As a team, the Cougars shoot .488 from the floor, .344 on threes, and .727 from the line while scoring 74.1 points per game. BYU allows 65.4 points while the opposition has shot .449 from the field and .339 from behind the arc. BYU has an average rebounding advantage of 5.7.


The University of Utah Utes are 22-8 overall and the No. 3 seed from the Mountain West Conference after a 9-5 regular season record in league games. Utah defeated No. 3-seed San Diego State, 75-69 Thursday to advance to the semifinals Friday vs BYU. Utah has advanced to the semifinals each year of the MWC Tournament. The Utes lost in each of its four prior MWC semifinal outings. This year Utah went 15-1 at home, 6-5 in away games and are 1-2 on a neutral floor. The Utes are led by senior guard Nick Jacobson (6-4, 206). Jacobson, Utah's career three-point leader, leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Jacobson is joined by freshman forward Andrew Bogut (6-10, 233), who leads the team in rebounds per game at 9.9 and blocked shots (1.5 bpg). Bogut is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 points per game. Sophomore forward Rich Chaney (6-4, 195) adds 9.4 points per game, and senior big man Tim Frost scores 9.1 points and is second on the team at 4.5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Tim Drisdom (6-2, 212) leads the team in assists at 3.5 apg. The Utes are known for their stifling half-court defense and are ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense. Utah also ranks among the top 25 in rebounding margin, three-point percentage, and field goal percentage. Kerry Rupp, in his third season with the Utes as an assistant coach, has taken over as acting head coach since Rick Majerus' departure and has a 7-3 record. Rupp is officially 1-1 vs. BYU after the Cougars' victory in Provo. He coached the Utes to victory against BYU in Salt Lake City in his first official win as the Utes coach. Last season in Provo he guided Utah to a win as Majerus missed the game to attend the funeral of former Ute great Andre Miller's step-father.


In a tight game to open up the MWC Tournament for the men's teams, it was No. 3 seed Utah that advanced with a 75-69 win over San Diego State in the first round of the MWC Tournament. The Utes' Nick Jacobson led all scores with 24 points, including an impressive 7-of-11 shooting from three-point range. Utah had three other players record double-digits: Cheney with 14, Frost with 11 and Drisdom 10. Utah out rebounded the Aztecs 41-27 and shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent from behind the arc, while shooting 84.6 percent from the free throw line. However, the Utes turned the ball over eight more times than SDSU with 15 turnovers to the Aztecs' seven.



F 13 Richard Chaney 6-4 195 So. 9.4 4.2

F 4 Andrew Bogut 6-10 233 Fr. 12.3 9.9

C 54 Tim Frost 6-9 244 Sr. 9.1 4.5

G 11 Tim Drisdom 6-2 212 So. 6.2 3.8

G 15 Nick Jacobson 6-4 206 Sr. 16.5 2.0


BYU and Utah will meet for the 237th time Monday. The series ranks 10th in the NCAA record book in terms of most games in a rivalry and is the 11th longest running rivalry dating back to 1909. Utah is the opponent that BYU has played the most in its history (236 games) and is BYU's second longest running series (Utah State series began in 1905 and includes 220 games). BYU won the inaugural game, 32-9 in Provo, on Jan. 23, 1909, and won again on March 5 of that year, 40-27, in SLC on its way to winning the first eight games against the Utes. This year BYU won in Provo after the Utes' come-from-behind win in Salt Lake City. Last year in Provo the Utes victory ended BYU's nation-best 44-game homecourt victory streak. With its sweep of the season series last year Utah earned its third advantage in the long-running series and its first multi-game lead. The two prior occasions when Utah held an advantage in the overall series the Utes maintained only a single-game lead before the Cougars again evened the series. Utah swept the regular season series in 2000 to take its first lead (114-113) in the overall series since it began in 1909 and again held a one-game edge (116-115) in 2002 with its win in Salt Lake City. In the second game that year the Cougars staged second-half comeback from 21 points down to even the series again at 116-116. Prior to Utah's breakthrough in Provo last year, the two teams had split with home wins the prior two seasons. Utah has won five of the last nine games since BYU ended a string of 12 straight Utah wins, its longest in the series, with the Cougars' 58-54 win at the 2000 MWC tournament semifinals. The Utes have won 10 straight at the Huntsman Center. BYU's last win at Utah was a 64-62 victory on Jan. 8, 1994. That win started a four-game BYU winning streak that preceded Utah's 12-game streak. BYU has 64-46 record in Provo against the Utes, while Utah holds a 46-70 advantage in Salt Lake City. BYU has a 6-3 edge on a neutral floor.


BYU holds a 4-2 advantage when the two rivals have met in conference tournament play, including a 1-0 mark in the MWC Tournament when BYU downed favored Utah 58-54 in the 2000 MWC tournament semifinals.


Overall Series Record: Utah leads, 119-117

BYU Record in Provo: 65-46

BYU Record in Salt Lake City: 46-70

BYU Record at Neutral Sites: 6-3

BYU Record under Steve Cleveland: 4-12

BYU Record in OT Games: 4-6* (1-1 Rd, 2-5 Hm, 1-0 Ntrl)

*1-0 in 2OT, 0-2 in 3OT - all in Provo (from 1983-85)

Last Overtime Game: 1991, won v. Utah @ WAC, 51-49

Longest BYU Win Streak: 8 (1909-12)

Longest Utah Win Streak: 12 (1995-2000)

Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 31 two times (1965, 94)

Largest Utah Margin of Victory: 36, 85-49 (1997)

Most Points Scored by BYU: 115 (1966)

Most Points Scored by Utah: 106 two times (1962, 1963)



SALT LAKE -- Utah's Nick Jacobson and Andrew Bogut each scored 21 points and the Utes held BYU to just one field goal in the final six minutes as Utah overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to earn a 64-56 victory Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center. The Cougars jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first half behind the shooting of Mark Bigelow and Garner Meads. Bigelow scored 14 points in the first half on 5-5 shooting, including three 3-pointers, while Meads added 10 points. BYU used runs of 10-2 and 11-4 to build its lead in the first 20 minutes with Utah never leading, but the Utes came out of the locker room in the second half fired up behind the 3-point shooting of Jacobson and the inside play of Bogut. After a Mike Hall basket to open the second half, the Utes exploded for a 15-4 run to cut the BYU lead to six at 40-34. Utah would take its first lead of the game on a Jacobson 3-point basket with 7:16 remaining. Utah would take the lead for good a few of minutes later on another 3-pointer by Jacobson, who finished the game with five triples, four in the second half. Then the Utes turned up the defensive pressure, holding BYU to just six points over the final four minutes. Bigelow finished with a season-high 22 points to lead BYU, while Rafael Araujo added a team-high nine boards. Bogut pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for Utah and also had an excellent game defensively, helping hold Araujo, who entered the game with a league-leading 19.8 scoring average, to just eight points. BYU forward Jared Jensen missed his third straight game with a back injury, and Cougar backup point guard Terry Nashif was not able to play, out with mononucleosis. With the loss, BYU falls to 2-4 in conference and 12-7 overall, while Utah improves to 4-2 in conference and 16-5 overall. The Cougars have lost three games in a row for the first time since a three-game skid in 2002.

After playing eight of its last 11 games on the road, including the last three contests, BYU returns home to the Marriott Center Saturday to face UNLV at 1 p.m. The Cougars will play five of their final eight regular-season games in Provo.


"We played well in the first half. We were able to stop them from getting second and third shots, but we weren't able to stop them from getting second and third opportunities in the second half. In the last five minutes (of the game) they got their confidence back and we weren't able to counter."


PROVO -- The NCAA postseason hopes are alive and well in Provo after the Cougars downed Utah 70-57 on ESPN's Big Monday and grabbed a hold on second-place in the Mountain West Conference. The 22,718 screaming fans in the Marriott Center for senior night saw the Cougars secure an undefeated home record for the year (13-0) and extend their home-winning streak to 18 straight victories. BYU has now won 62 of its last 63 games at home and is currently riding a seven-game winning streak, the longest of the season. Coming through for the Cougars was the dynamic trio of seniors Rafael Araujo, Mark Bigelow and junior Mike Hall. Araujo finished the night with 16 points and Bigelow came up big with 19, but Hall stole the show, turning in a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. The three keys to the Cougars' upper-handed play was their ability to outscore the Utes in the paint 36-14, forcing 23 turnovers to their own seven and then capitalizing off of those turnovers by scoring 27 points to Utah's seven. Thanks to a 19-2 run on the strength of a defensive outing that held the Utes to 19 points in the half -- the lowest point total BYU has held an opponent to since holding the Utes to 19 in the first half at the Huntsman Center back in January -- BYU overcame a slow start. The Utes jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Cougar senior guard Luiz Lemes knocked down a three with 16:09 left in the half. Araujo cut the Ute lead to six with a follow-up basket off of a missed Bigelow layup at 13-7. Down 17-10, the Cougars' Hall went on a 7-0 run beginning with a steal he took the length of the court for the layin where he was fouled and then converted the old fashion three-point play. Hall then knocked down a short jumper and on the ensuing possession again stole the pass intended for Utah's Nick Jacobson, who led the Utes with 16 points, and drove all the way in for the slam that tied the game at 17 apiece. The Cougars continued to roll with Hall putting the Cougars on top for the first time in the game at 21-19, as he drove past Jacobson for the easy layin. But it was Meads' follow up dunk off of a Woodberry miss that brought the Marriott Center crowd to its feet and gave BYU a 23-19 lead. Bigelow capped off the Cougars' 19-2 run in the waning minutes of the half with a three-point shot from the top of the key, sending BYU into the half up 26-19. Coming out of the break Araujo broke loose for eight of his 16 in the opening four minutes of the second half, giving BYU their first double-digit lead at 36-26. BYU struggled to pull away from the Utes with Utah closing the gap again with a Jacobson three-pointer and a bucket by freshman Andrew Bogut that pulled Utah to within four at 43-39.The Cougars responded with a shot by Araujo, a free throw by senior Kevin Woodberry, a baseline jumper from Hall and a running-scoop shot in the lane by freshman Garner Meads to lift BYU to a 50-39 lead. With 5:47 left to play, a Meads' basket lifted the Cougars to an 11-point advantage. The Utes would cut the lead to six but BYU pushed it back to 12 after a pair of Bigelow free throws at 57-45. In the closing seconds it was all BYU with the Cougars scoring seven points including another Hall dunk and a wide-open Lemes layup to seal the 70-57 victory. With the win, BYU improves to 19-7 and 9-4 in the Mountain West Conference. Utah falls to 20-8 and 8-5. The Cougars have secured the No. 2 seed at next week's MWC Tournament while Utah has wrapped up the No. 3 spot.


""(This win) keeps our (NCAA) hopes alive. Hall gave us a real spark. He'll sleep the best tonight for the effort he gave. It was a great defensive effort. There were not nearly as many mistakes. We executed better and made better plays."



With its win over Wyoming Thursday, BYU has a 4-1 record in MWC Tournament quarterfinal games. The Cougars are 2-1 in the MWC semifinal round. The Cougars advanced to the finals in 2000 and 2001, winning the title that year, but lost in the quarterfinals in 2002 to San Diego State and lost in an overtime semifinal battle to CSU last season.


BYU won the MWC Tournament title in 2001. The other three seasons the Cougars were knocked out by the eventual champion. BYU lost in the finals to home-team UNLV in 2000. The Cougars were defeated by San Diego State in the 2002 quarterfinals and by CSU in last year's seminfinals.


Mark Bigelow needs 18 points to reach 400 points this year. If he reaches that mark, he will become only the second player ever at BYU to score at least 400 points all four seasons. The only Cougar to accomplish that feat in BYU's 102-year basketball history is Danny Ainge. The Cougar All-American scored 500 points every year but his sophomore season, when he scored 498 points.


Mark Bigelow averaged a team-leading 20.5 points per game against Utah this year in the first two meetings. The Cougars senior shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from the floor, including 60 percent (6-of-10) from behind the arc, and 81.8 percent from the line (9-of-11). He added 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the season split.


Mark Bigelow will start his 118th game for BYU Friday when the Cougars face Utah. Bigelow joins BYU great Danny Ainge, who made 118 starts during his career. Only four Cougars have more starts: Jeff Chatman and Randy Reid (122), Ken Roberts (121) and Fred Roberts (119). Bigelow will also tie Devin Durrant with his 117th consecutive start, good for third on BYU's all-time list. Chatman (122) and Fred Roberts (119) are the only players with more consecutive starts.


Rafael Araujo surpassed 500 points for the season with his 17 points vs. Wyoming Thursday. He now has 515 points on the season. He is the 30th Cougar to reach 500 points in a year and the 42nd occasion when a BYU player has score 500 points in a season.


Rafael Araujo's 14 rebounds vs. Wyoming Thursday is the most ever in the MWC Tournament by a senior and tied for second-highest rebound total by any player, joining former Wyoming star Josh Davis who had 14 boards vs. San Diego State in the 2001 tournament.


Rafael Araujo scored 17 points and added 14 rebounds vs. Wyoming Thursday to record his 15th double-double game of the season. Araujo is one of the country's most productive players. He ranks fourth nationally for the highest combined points and rebounds averages. He leads BYU at 18.4 ppg and 10.1 rpg.


Kevin Woodberry's block of Wyoming guard Jay Straight's three-point attempt sealed BYU's win Thursday against the Cowboys. With that win, BYU improved to 9-4 in games still in question entering the final minute. BYU's four losses came by a combined nine points. BYU has won six straight close contests since its two-point loss in a close-ending game at New Mexico when Danny Granger hit a shot to give the Lobos a 65-63 win.


The Cougars have a 19-16 record in conference tournament games, which includes a 7-3 Mountain West tournament record and a 12-13 record in WAC tournament games. BYU advanced to the finals in the first two years of the MWC tournament, winning the title over UNM in 2001 after losing to UNLV in 2000. The last two years BYU lost to the eventual MWC champion. In 2002, BYU lost in the opening round to eventual tournament champion San Diego State. Last year, BYU lost in overtime in the semifinals to eventual winner Colorado State. BYU defeated Air Force and co-champion Wyoming in 2001 in the first two games. In 2000, BYU defeated UNM and Utah in the first two tourney games. BYU has won the opening game in four of the last five postseason conference tournaments, including an upset of TCU in its first-round WAC tournament,90-74, in 1999. Prior to BYU's MWC Tournament title in 2001, BYU had last won a conference tournament title in 1992 when the Cougars' Kevin Nixon hit a dramatic three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer to defeat UTEP, 73-71, in Fort Collins, Colo.


DENVER -- BYU got one step closer to the Mountain West Conference title with a 79-75 win over the No. 7 seed Wyoming Cowboys in only the second postseason meeting between the two teams. With the victory the Cougars' improve to 4-1 in MWC Quarterfinal games, extend their current winning streak to nine straight games and also get one step closer to ensuring themselves a bid into the NCAA Tournament. "It was another great college game," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "I think we can make a really good case that we belong (in the NCAA Tournament) but the best way to make that case is just to keep winning." And winning is what BYU has done, improving their overall record to 21-7, while the Cowboys finish their season at 11-17 overall. "There were several people for us that stepped up, probably none bigger than Luiz in making some big baskets," said Cleveland. Leading the Cougars in scoring was senior point guard Luiz Lemes, who turned in a team-high 18 points and three assists in 37 minutes of play. Other Cougars who stepped up were seniors Rafael Araujo and Mark Bigelow along with junior Mike Hall who had great performances with all three Cougars scoring in double-digits in the afternoon game. Both Bigelow and Hall had 13 points while Araujo recorded his 15th double-double of the season with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 14 boards, his second highest rebound total of the season and second highest in MWC Tournament history and most ever by a senior. In the first half, the Cougars fell behind 6-7 but it didn't last long as the Cougars mounted a 12-3 run to pull ahead of the Cowboys for the rest of the game. Araujo, Bigelow and Shoff each chipped in eight points in the half for BYU, teaming up for 24 of the Cougars' 32 points. The highlight of the half came as Araujo blocked a Wyoming shot, gathered the ball, passed it out to senior guard Kevin Woodberry who found Bigelow streaking down the sideline and hit him with an outlet pass for a wide open two-handed jam that brought the Cougar fans to their feet. Shoff then reeled off six straight points for the Cougars to go up 26-18 with under five minutes left in the half. BYU went on to close out the half with a pair of free throws by junior forward Jared Jensen, up 32-27 going into the break. The Cougars came out strong in the early going of the second half, putting up five unanswered points to go up by 10. Wyoming answered back with a 6-0 run of their own, including back-to-back steals and layups by David Adams to pull within four at 39-35. BYU fought to get some breathing room, pushing its lead to 12, the largest of the game, at 52-40 behind three-point baskets by Lemes and Hall. With 6:13 left in the game, senior forward Jake Shoff and Wyoming's David Rottinghaus were called for a double foul as the two fell to the floor away from the ball. The foul sent Shoff to the bench with his fifth foul. Wyoming instituted a full-court press through most of the half in an effort to force the Cougars to turn the ball over, but BYU was able to beat the press each time. "It was hard because we've never had that before," said Lemes, "There were 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 guys against me, a 6-foot-3 guard. That was pretty tough but our guys did a good job against the press." The Cowboys managed to chip away at the Cougars' lead through the next five minutes, closing the margin to four points with less than two minutes to go in the game at 70-66. Free throws became key for the Cougars' down the stretch as the Cougars hit 7-of-8 shots from the line in the closing minute where they did not score a field goal. With less than 20 seconds to play, it was Woodberry's defensive play on Wyoming's Jay Straight that sealed the victory as Woodberry blocked Straight's three-point attempt, grabbed the ball and dribbled out the clock for the 79-75 win.


LAS -- Luiz Lemes dished the ball off to Rafael Araujo who scored the game-winning basket with 0.5 seconds left as BYU beat UNLV 89-88 Saturday in Las Vegas. "I knew Haffa (Araujo) was somewhere, so I looked for him and found him open," Lemes said. "I'm glad I was able to get it to him to give us the win." Lemes scored a career-high 23 points in the win and was one of four Cougars who posted double figures. Araujo added 21 points despite being in foul trouble for most of the game. Kevin Woodberry contributed 13 points, just one short of his season-high, and Mike Hall put 12 points on the board for the Cougars. Araujo also pulled down 13 rebounds to record his 14th double-double of the season. Lemes and Araujo combined for 44 of the Cougars' 89 points. BYU started going 9-12 in the first nine minutes, including 4-6 from beyond the arc. After a 13-4 run gave the Cougars a 23-14 lead, BYU turnovers on four consecutive possessions allowed UNLV to cut the lead to just two points. Then the Rebels did a little scoring of their own, going on an 11-3 run and an 11-2 run that saw the Cougars go scoreless from the field for over four minutes. Kevin Woodberry hit a three-pointer and then two free throws to bring the Cougars back to within two, 44-46, at the half. The second half was an offensive battle as both teams ran the floor trading buckets and neither team led by more than six points. As the score went back and forth, Araujo picked up his third and fourth fouls before the 10-minute mark, the fourth being a technical he received after a hard UNLV foul as he was going up for a put-back basket on one of BYU's 12 offensive rebounds. After sitting for almost six minutes, Araujo came back in for the remainder of the game, scoring the game-winner. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field (BYU .556, UNLV .582). The Cougars made 7-18 (.389) from beyond the arc, including 3-5 from Woodberry -- a vast improvement from their dismal 1-15 three-point shooting night against UNLV in Provo. BYU also out-rebounded the Rebels 32-21, marking the 19th game of the season in which the Cougars have won the rebounding battle. BYU is 16-3 in those games. After completing the regular season 20-7 overall and 10-4 in the Mountain West Conference, the Cougars will now take their eight-game winning streak into Denver, Colo. for Thursday's opening of the MWC Tournament. As the No. 2 seed, BYU will face No. 7 seed Wyoming at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pepsi Center. "I couldn't be more proud of this team," said BYU coach Steve Cleveland. "Our mentality is that we've got to keep winning each game. We're going to go into the Tournament Thursday and just play it out and see how far we can go."


BYU has won a season-best nine straight games, the team's longest victory streak since the 1992-93 season when BYU won 13 in a row. BYU's eight straight wins to conclude the regulars season is the longest for the Cougars during regular-season MWC play under Steve Cleveland. BYU's current nine-game victory string is tied for the seventh-longest active streaks in NCAA Division I. BYU's 18-game homecourt winning streak is currently tied for the sixth longest nationally.


BYU is making a solid case for entry into next week's NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have achieved a 21 wins even though they have played more games (15) away (8-7 record) from home than they did in the Marriott Center where BYU was a perfect 13-0. The Cougars are playing well at the right time, having won nine straight games. BYU has an RPI and strenghth of schedule rated in the 20s. BYU has quality wins, including a neutral court victory over current No. 7 Oklahoma State.


At home 18-0

On the road 3-0

On a neutral floor 3-0

At home vs. Nonconference 40-0

At home vs. MWC 12-0

On the road vs. Nonconference 0-1

On the road vs. MWC 3-0

On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 2-0

On a neutral floor vs. MWC 1-0