Cummard Leads BYU To Victory At Portland
PORTLAND -- After a week off, the No. 21 BYU men's basketball team defeated the Portland Pilots 78-54 Saturday night, improving to 6-1 on the season. The Cougars are now 6-0 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 4-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark.
"I'm really proud of our players," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "We had really great practices this week as far as effort is concerned, but we didn't execute nearly as well as we usually do. Tonight we came out and executed well."
Lee Cummard's game-high 18 points led four Cougars scoring in double figures. Trent Plaisted finished the game with 16 points, Jonathan Tavernari with 13 points and Jimmer Fredette with 11 points. Senior point guard Ben Murdock continued his trend of good ball-handling, recording 10 assists.
Plaisted also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. As a team, the Cougars outrebounded Portland, 41-27, and held the Pilots to .362 shooting from the field.
BYU got out to an early 8-3 lead to begin the game with consecutive three-pointers by Tavernari and Cummard. The team cooled down midway through the half, going scoreless for three minutes until a lay-up by Vuk Ivanovic put the Cougars up 15-9.
Tavernari scored a baseline jumper on an assist from Ivanovic with 10:04 remaining in the first half. Ivanovic continued to make his presence known, creating a Portland turnover and scoring on a put-back missed shot by Nick Martineau.
Chris Miles drew cheers from the large crowd of BYU supporters when he entered the game later in the first half. In August, Miles returned home from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he served in the Portland area.
"We had a full house of BYU fans," said Rose. "They came out and supported us. They were really loud, which was a good feeling for our team."
A Pilot turnover resulted in fast-break points for Murdock to end the first half.
With a 14-point advantage at the break, BYU has led at the half in six of its seven games this season, going 6-0. BYU has held a double-digit lead at halftime in five of its seven games so far this season, going 5-0 in those games.
The Cougars came out to a fast start to begin the second half. BYU would go on a 17-2 run, recording its largest lead of the game at 29 points with 15:56 remaining in the game. The run was fueled by back-to-back three-pointers from Tavernari and Sam Burgess.
"In the second half, especially the first 10 minutes, we were really good, not only in terms of focus and energy, but our execution," said Rose.
Portland quickly cut into BYU's lead on three three-pointers by the Pilots' Jared Stohl. A 19-5 run put Portland back in the game until quick offensive play by the Cougars created more scoring opportunities, including an open trey by Cummard.
Fredette scored his first points of the game as he drove to the basket with 10:43 on the clock. Fredette's fast-break lay-up a few plays later put the Cougars back up 66-44. Miles then blocked a Pilot shot, and Fredette pulled down the rebound and scored a three-pointer on the other end. From there, BYU cruised to the 78-54 win.
"Jimmer [Fredette] really gave us a lift in the second half," said Rose. "He's getting a lot better defensively. He needs to come in and give us a lift like he did tonight. He'll be a key player in our team's success this year."
Up next BYU will host Weber State on Wednesday at 7:30 MT in the Marriott Center. The Cougars will be looking to extend their home win streak, already the nation's second-longest, to 35 games.
GAME 7- No. 21 BYU Plays at Portland Saturday
BYU GAME #7 FAST FACTS
No. 21 BYU COUGARS (5-1)
PORTLAND PILOTS (2-5)
Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007
Chiles Center (4,852)
7 p.m. PT (8 p.m. MT)
BYU, Dave Rose (50-19 in third season; same overall)
PORT, Eric Reveno (11-28 in second season; same overall)
BYU leads, 2-1, including a 79-50 win in Provo last season
BYUTV (Chris Twitty, play-by-play, Andy Toolson, game analysis)
KSL Newsradio (Live - 820 AM/Delayed - 102.7 FM/1160 AM) and the Cougar Sports Network (6:30 p.m. PT pregame show -- Rod Zundel, play-by-play; Mark Durrant, game analysis)
Live audio, live video and live stats links are available on the basketball schedule page at www.byucougars.com/basketball_m/
BYU PLAYS AT PORTLAND SATURDAY
No. 21 BYU (5-1) will hit the road again this week, playing at Portland on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT (8 p.m. MT). The Cougars entered the national rankings on Monday after a second-place finish at the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational where they upset No. 6 Louisville on Friday before threatening No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday in the title matchup. Portland (2-5) is coming off a loss to Portland State on Wednesday. Saturday's game will be televised live on BYUTV, which is available nationally in 45 milliion homes. The radio broadcast can be heard live on AM 820 and over the Internet via the KSL X-Stream beginning with the pregame show at 6:30 p.m. PT. The basketball broadcast will also air beginning with the opening tip on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM and 1160 AM out of Salt Lake City as well as KSL.com immediately following the conclusion of Saturday's football game between BYU and San Diego State.
BYU will return to the Marriott Center to host Weber State on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. as part of a double-header with the women's basketball team.
COUGAR QUICK HITS
-- The Cougars' entrance into the national rankings this week marks the program's earliest appearance in the national polls since the 1980-81 season. With a ranking as high as No. 21 last year, BYU has now been ranked in back-to-back season for the first time since 1980-81 and 1981-82.
-- Two-time reigning MWC Coach of the Year Dave Rose helped make BYU the second-most improved program in the nation in his first season with a 20-9 record and guided the Cougars to the outright MWC title and a top-25 ranking in his second campaign in Provo as the Cougars went 25-9 last season.
-- BYU has been picked in the preseason poll to finish first in the MWC race this year by the league's media.
-- BYU currently owns the nation's second-longest active home win streak with 34 straight wins in the Marriott Center. The Cougars went 17-0 at home last year and are 3-0 at home this year.
-- This year's BYU squad returns two starters among seven lettermen from last year's outright league leaders (13-3 MWC record) as well as returned missionary Chris Miles, who made six starts as a freshman in 2004-05. Headlining BYU's top returners in 2007-08 are MWC Player of the Year candidate Trent Plaisted, a two-time All-MWC Second Team selection in his first two seasons; versatile junior guard Lee Cummard, who earned All-MWC Third Team honors one year ago; and sophomore sharpshooter Jonathan Tavernari, who followed Plaisted's lead the prior season by being named the MWC Freshman of the Year in his first campaign as a Cougar.
LOOKING AT PORTLAND
The Portland Pilots are 2-5 on the year, including a 76-52 win over Idaho State and a 78-64 loss to San Diego State. Portland has dropped its last two contests after a 78-73 defeat at the hands of cross-town rival Portland State on Wednesday. The Pilots return two starters among five letterwinners from last year's team that finished 9-23, including a 79-50 loss at BYU, and 4-10 in the West Coast Conference. Portland features a relatively young lineup as a senior, a sophomore and three freshmen received the starting nod on Wednesday. Senior Sherrard Watson leads three Pilots scoring in double figures with 12.3 points per game on 51.1 percent shooting from the field. He has scored in double figures in five games overall this year, including the last four straight after posting 20 points Portland State. The 6-foot-6 forward also shoots 85 percent from the free-throw line and contributes 4.3 rebounds per contest. Sophomore guard Nik Raivio scores 11.4 ppg to go along with 3.4 rpg while sophomore forward Robin Smeulders is third on the team in scoring at 11.0 ppg and second in rebounds with 6.1 rpg. Freshman forward Luke Sikma has made an immediate impact in his first season with the Pilots as he paces the team in several categories, including rebounds (10.7), field-goal percentage (.595), assists (3.14), blocks (1.4) and steals (1.9). The 6-foot-8 native of Bellevue, Wash., also adds 9.3 ppg and has posted three double-doubles on the year, including season highs of 12 points and 14 boards against Portland State. As a team, the Pilots are averaging 67.4 ppg on 44.1 percent shooting from the field while allowing opponents to score 71.0 ppg on 43 percent shooting. The Pilots are outrebounding opponents 37.7-30.7. Head coach Eric Reveno is 11-28 in his second season.
PORTLAND'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Pos. # Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG Hometown
G 1 Nik Raivio 6-4 195 So. 11.4 3.4 Vancouver, Wash.
G 20 Jared Stohl 6-2 155 Fr. 7.8 1.3 Marysville, Wash.
F 34 Sherrard Watson 6-6 190 Sr. 12.3 4.3 Portland, Ore.
F 43 Luke Sikma 6-8 215 Fr. 9.3 10.7 Bellevue, Wash.
C 45 Kramer Knutson 6-9 215 Fr. 2.4 2.6 Mesa, Ariz.
PORTLAND'S LAST OUTING -- PORTLAND FALLS TO CROSSTOWN RIVAL PORTLAND STATE
PORTLAND -- Sherrard Watson and Nik Raivio each scored 20 points, but the Portland Pilots could not overcome a balanced scoring attack from crosstown rival Portland State in a 78-73 loss to the Vikings at the Chiles Center on Wednesday night. Scott Morrison, Deonte Huff and Tyrell Mara each scored 15 to pace the Vikings (4-3), while junior point guard Jeremiah Dominguez added 12 points and four assists off the bench. Freshman forward Luke Sikma scored 12 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to record his third double-double of the year for the Pilots (2-5). Junior guard Walter Thompson added 10 points off the bench. The Vikings led 37-35 at the half and jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the second period as Sikma went to the bench with three fouls. A three-pointer by Mara with 14:51 left made it 52-42, the largest lead of the game for either team. Watson, the lone senior on the Pilots roster, kept Portland in the game with nine consecutive points. Sikma returned with consecutive baskets to pull the Pilots within four at 56-52 with nine minutes remaining. Morrison's layup pushed the margin to 72-63, but UP answered with consecutive three-pointers by freshman Jared Stohl and Raivio with 1:24 remaining. Huff made four consecutive free throws in the final 36 seconds to keep the Pilots out of reach. "The loss is disappointing, but I'm proud of our team's effort," Portland head coach Eric Reveno said. "Strategically, they hurt us inside and Morrison was a big factor. That is something we will need to address and improve on." Portland shot 47 percent for the game and the Vikings connected on 48 percent shooting. The Pilots owned a 36-29 edge on the boards and committed just 12 turnovers after averaging 18.2 entering the game. "It was nice to see us take care of the ball much better today," Reveno added. "But against good teams you have to make plays, and we didn't make enough plays tonight."
SERIES NOTES VS. PORTLAND
The Cougars and Pilots have met just three times in the history of the series, with BYU owning a 2-1 series lead. The two teams firs tmet in Provo on Dec. 14, 1957 with Portland getting a 63-54 win. BYU returned the favor the following year with a 77-72 victory in Portland on Dec. 3, 1958. After a 48-year hiatus, the two teams resumed the series last year with the Cougars winning 79-50 in Provo.
SERIES RESULTS VS. PORTLAND
Overall Series Record: BYU leads 2-1
BYU Record in Provo: 1-1
BYU Record in Portland: 1-0
BYU Record at Neutral Sites: N/A
BYU Record Under Dave Rose: 1-0
BYU Record in Overtime Games: N/A
Longest BYU Win Streak: 2 (1958-present)
Longest Portland Win Streak: 1 (1957-58)
Largest BYU Margin of Victory: 29, 79-50 in 2006
Largest Portland Margin of Victory: 9, 63-54 in 1957
Most Points Scored by BYU: 79 in 2006
Most Points Scored by Portland: 72 in 1958
Date Opponent Score W/L
12-14-57 Portland 63-54 L
12-3-58 at Portland 77-72 W
11-22-06 Portland 79-50 W
BYU's LAST OUTING VS. PORTLAND -- CUMMARD, BURGESS PACE COUGARS IN VICTORY
PROVO -- Three Cougars scored in double figures as BYU defeated Portland, 79-50, in a 29-point rout on Wednesday in front of 8,022 fans at the Marriott Center. Lee Cummard paced BYU with a career-high14 points, while Keena Young and Sam Burgess each added 13 points. Young and Vuk Ivanovic led the Cougars with nine rebounds apiece. Sherrard Watson and Jamie Jones both tallied eight points apiece for Portland, and Kevin Field led all players with 11 boards. BYU got off to a hot start, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead, including five points thanks to three Cougar steals. Ivanovic netted a turnaround jumper on BYU's first possession, followed by a long two from Jimmy Balderson. On Portland's next possession, Balderson made his first theft of the night that resulted in a bucket by Young. Balderson again made a steal on the very next Pilot possession but stepped out of bounds while trying to advance the ball up court. The Cougars immediately got the ball back, however, when Austin Ainge capped the Cougar run by making a steal and feeding Cummard for a three-pointer. Parker Emerson finally put Portland on the board at the 14:55 mark when he sank two free throws. Trent Plaisted was noticeably missing from the first five minutes of action as he is nursing a sprained ankle. On Plaisted's first possession, he netted a hook shot, extending the Cougar lead back to nine points, 11-2. Both teams traded baskets for several possessions until Walter Thompson hit a three-point shot with nine minutes to go in the half, cutting BYU's lead to two, 14-12. With 6:20 left in the first period Sam Burgess was fouled on a drive to the basket off a full-court pass from Ainge, extending the Cougar lead to five points, 22-17. On the next BYU possession, Ainge faked a three-point shot, waited for Brian McTear to fly by him and then nailed a three-pointer. Thompson hit a jumper with 15 seconds left to cut BYU's lead to seven points, 31-24, at the break. BYU continued to build on its lead to open the second period as the Cougars started the half with a 7-0 run off a free throw from Young, a bucket from Cummard and a layup from Balderson, giving BYU a 12-point lead, 36-24. Burgess added a spark four minutes into the second period when he hit back-to-back-to-back three pointers, widening the BYU lead to 17 points, 45-28. Burgess took just 1:24 to hit all three buckets. The two teams spent a good portion trading baskets back-and-forth until the Cougars went on a 10-0 run with five minutes left in the game. Cummard scored a tip-in basket, hit two free throws and sank a three-pointer, while Rashaun Broadus ended the run with a three-point play. BYU shot 44.4 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from behind the arc, while the Pilots shot 25 and 20 percent, respectively. The Cougars held the advantage in points in the paint (34-10), points off turnovers (21-6), second-chance points (25-4) and bench points (36-23).
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "We left a lot of points out there at the free-throw line and in transition. We were able to pull away in the end, but we have to work on those areas."
-- "We wanted to establish Vuk (Ivanovic) as a starter with Trent Plaisted hurt this week at practice. He did well. (Rashaun Broadus) has been pressing a lot lately, but he played well tonight. Austin (Ainge) and Rashaun have a lot of experience, and they give us a lot of depth at that position."
-- "We've been working on turnovers and defensive rebounds. We didn't want them to go to the line any more, so we went to zone. We haven't played a lot of zone, so we had a hard time rebounding in our zone defense."
-- "Sam is just a tough competitive player. He plays with energy all the time, and he works hard all the time. I'm excited for him and our team that he had a break-out game tonight."
-- "One of the strengths of our team is our perimeter shooting, but we can't go away from the inside game. We tend to do that some times, but we are working hard to establish our inside game."
Portland Head Coach Eric Reveno
-- "It was a tough shooting night, and you can't let that affect other parts of your game. We were defended well in the half court, or we turned it over. You look at points off of offensive rebounds and points off of turnovers, and that's where they got a lot of their offense."
-- "Once you dig yourself that hole and you're always playing from eight, 10, 12 and 15 down, then all of a sudden every basket feels so critical -- especially on the road. You just have to get the mindset of taking it one possession at a time as cliche as that is. You've got to make a shot, and then make a stop. You can't just get it all back at once."
-- "That was a stretch where I felt like our offense affected our defense. [BYU] can hurt you in a variety of ways, and we knew that. The scouting report is pretty easy. Just guard them like they're all shooters, and go from there. We let our offense affect our defense in that stretch."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- Having missed practice Monday and Tuesday with an ankle injury, Plaisted did not start Wednesday against Portland, marking the first game he has not started since the 2004-05 season. Plaisted started all 29 games last season for the Cougars. In 2004-05 Plaisted played in five games (starting none) before receiving a medical redshirt.
-- Individual Career Highs: Sam Burgess -- 13 points; Cummard -- 14 points.
-- BYU scored the first nine points of the game over the first 5:05. BYU held Portland without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game. The Pilots first scored with 14:55 to go in the half on two free throws.
-- Portland's first field goal was made by Jamie Jones with 13 minutes remaining in the half.
-- Seven different Cougars combined to score BYU's first 14 points. Ivanovic, Balderson, and Young each made two-point baskets before Cummard hit a three-pointer. Trent Plaisted followed with a bucket, Rashaun Broadus made one-of-two foul shots and Sam Burgess made a reverse layup before Plaisted made a pair of foul shots to become the first BYU player to score on multiple possessions.
-- Walk-on Gavin MacGregor made his first career appearance in the first half. In the second half MacGregor scored his first points as a Cougar. MacGregor also blocked a shot.
-- Burgess went on a 9-0 run by himself for BYU early in the second half, hitting three three-pointers in a 1:24-span.
-- BYU started the second half on a 14-4 run to give the Cougars a 45-30 lead.
-- BYU forced 19 turnovers while only giving up the ball nine times. The Cougars scored 21 points off turnovers while the Pilots only managed six points off BYU turnovers.
- BYU's nine turnovers are a season low.
- Lee Cummard became the third different BYU player in as many games to lead the Cougars in scoring. Cummard posted 14 points to lead all scorers.
- All 12 BYU players that played scored. The Cougars had three players in double figures (Cummard, Young and Burgess).
- BYU's 48 second-half points were the most scored in a half this season. The Cougars' 48 second-half points were two fewer than Portland scored all game.
- Portland scored 24 points in the first half and 26 points in the second half. Prior to tonight's game, the fewest points a BYU opponent had scored in one half was Idaho State's 29 first-half points.
- The Cougars' 79-50 victory is the largest regular-season margin of victory (29 points) for BYU since the Cougars beat Eastern Washington, 97-66, on Dec. 27, 2005 (31 points).
BYU'S LAST OUTING - COUGARS FALL JUST SHORT AGAINST NO. 1 NORTH CAROLINA
LAS -- The BYU Cougars played the No. 1 University of North Carolina Tar Heels to six second-half lead changes and three ties before the Tar Heels won the game 73-63 to clinch the Las Vegas Invitational Championship. UNC improved to 5-0 on 21 points by junior forward Tyler Hansbrough as the Cougars suffered their first loss of the season (5-1) despite the double-double effort of junior Trent Plaisted, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds. BYU also saw big offensive numbers put up by Jonathan Tavernari, Lee Cummard and Sam Burgess as they scored 18, 10 and nine points, respectively. BYU came out of the locker room quickly in the second half as it only took four minutes to put together a 13-4 run to take a 44-42 lead. This fast second-half turnaround came as Plaisted hit his first four shots of the half and Tavernari his sixth three of the game. The second half saw both teams with the lead numerous times and great defensive numbers. BYU held UNC to its second-lowest point total of the season and under 99 points for only the second time this season. The Tar Heels were able to slowly open up their eventual final point total as they hit their only two three-pointers of the game and made it to the line 15 times in the second half, making 11 free throws. BYU trailed just 62-61 with four minutes left before North Carolina scored 11 of the game's final 13 points. After leading by as many as 10 in the first half, UNC went into the locker up by seven, 38-31. The Cougars were able to cut into the UNC lead with a last-second three-pointer by Tavernari, his fifth of the half. Tavernari led BYU with 15 points in the first period, and Hansbrough led the Tar Heels with 11 first-half points. Both schools shot very similarly from the field in the first stanza, near 43 percent, but the difference came from the free-throw line. The Tar Heels were able to get to the charity stripe nine more times than BYU and convert just as many more as they went 12-for-15 from the line in the first half.
WHAT WAS SAID AFTER THE GAME ...
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose
-- "We competed, we fought hard and we battled. We played as well as we needed to play. We just did not execute down the stretch like we needed to."
-- "All of the shots that we missed down the stretch were shots that we were capable of making. The one thing that I think that we could have done better down the stretch was rebounding. There were a few defensive rebounds that got out of our hands late."
-- "What I am really impressed with this group is how competitive they are, and this weekend was no exception. They played hard, and that is one thing that I am really proud of with this group."
North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams
-- "You saw cupcakes and ice cream yesterday, and tonight was tough as all get out. The toughness is something that I enjoy though because it is something we need to work on.
-- "BYU is a big-time basketball team. It was a hard-fought game all around."
-- "I think our depth was important. I think they missed some threes late in the game because their legs were tired, but at the same time our players were tired at the end of the game too."
-- "Plaisted was sensational in the second half. Our plan coming out of the locker room was not to double team in the post because he is a good passer too, but he took it to us with a superb second half."
-- "I told both Tavernari and Plaisted that they are big time players. I can admire the way that Tavernari plays. You look at Plaisted's numbers, 24 and 17, those are big time numbers."
-- "BYU is very sound fundamentally. They were able to box out on the board just as well as anyone we have seen so far."
BYU NOTES FROM LAST OUTING
-- Tavernari and Plaisted were named to the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament Team.
-- Individual Season Highs: Trent Plaisted - 24 points, 17 rebounds.
-- BYU took its first lead of the game at 16-15 on a jumper from Plaisted with 12:25 left in the first half. The Cougars' last lead came at 59-58 with 6:27 left in the game. BYU trailed 62-61 with four minutes left until the Tar Heels scored 11 of the game's final 13 points.
-- Plaisted has scored in double figures in every game this season, including a season-high 24 points against North Carolina. He has topped the 20-point mark in three of the last four games and 12 times overall in his career.
-- Plaisted posted double-doubles in both of BYU's games in Las Vegas, recording 21 points and 12 rebounds in the Cougars' win over No. 6 Louisville and 24 points and 17 boards against No. 1 North Carolina. He has now tallied 11 double-doubles in his career.
-- Plaisted's 17 rebounds marked the first time since March 11, 2006 a player has had at least 15 boards against the Tar Heels.
-- After going just 2-for-8 in the first half for six points, Plaisted scored eight of the first 10 Cougars points in the second half while making his first four shots. Plaisted scored 18 points in the second half.
-- BYU began the second half on fire, outscoring UNC 13-4 to retake the lead at 44-42 with 16:08 left in the game. Including a buzzer-beater three-pointer from Tavernari to end the first half, the Cougars outscored the Tar Heels 16-4 over the break.
-- The second-half battle between the two teams featured six lead changes and three ties.
-- The Cougars did not give up a three-pointer until the 12:25 mark in the second half as UNC missed its first nine shots from long range. BYU entered the game allowing opponents to shoot just 30.3 percent from beyond the arc while making 43.3 percent of its own shots from three-point range.
-- BYU has held all six of its opponents this season under 40 points in the first half, allowing 38 against North Carolina.
-- North Carolina is the first team this season to post a halftime lead on the Cougars as the Tar Heels led 38-31 at the break.
-- Tavernari scored the first six points of the game for BYU with two three-pointers. He finished the first half with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from three-point range, including a buzzer-beater to cut UNC's lead to seven points going into the locker room.
- With a 31-321 lead at the 6:30 mark of the first half, North Carolina became the first team this season to post a double-digit lead on the Cougars. The largest lead prior to that was an eight-point advantage by Jackson State.
BYU ENTERS NATIONAL RANKINGS
The BYU men's basketball team entered the national rankings Monday, earning the program's earliest appearance in the national polls since the 1980-81 season. BYU is ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll.
The Cougars are coming off a second-place finish at the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational where they defeated No. 6 Louisville Friday before suffering their first loss of the year in a closely contested championship battle against No. 1 North Carolina Saturday. BYU has a 5-1 record on the year.
"(The ranking) is something we can build on," said BYU coach Dave Rose, the two-time Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year who has guided the Cougars to back-to-back 20-win seasons in his first two years. "We have a lot of work to do and need to keep improving as a team to get ready for the Mountain West Conference season."
In his third year guiding the program, Rose has seen his team earn the respect of the national voters for the second consecutive season. Last year, BYU entered the polls on Feb. 19 to receive the program's first national ranking since 1993. BYU finished last year ranked No. 24 in the final AP Poll, something a Cougar team had not accomplished since 1988.
BYU has now been ranked in back-to-back season for the first time since 1980-81 and 1981-82. This week's entry into the national rankings marks the earliest the Cougars have been included in the polls since receiving a No. 18 ranking in the 1980-81 AP preseason poll. It also marks the first time BYU's football and men's basketball teams have been nationally ranked the same week in the AP poll since Dec. 28, 1992.
The Cougar basketball program has now been ranked in the AP Poll during 16 seasons since its first national ranking in 1950-51 (see list below).
SEASONS BYU HAS BEEN RANKED IN THE AP POLL
SEASON HIGHEST RANKING
BYU AS A RANKED TEAM
BYU owns a 131-55 record as a ranked team. The Cougars are 75-12 at home, 35-27 on the road and 21-16 at neutral sites when nationally ranked. The Cougars' last road win as a ranked team was an 84-63 victory at UTEP on March 4, 1993. BYU was rank No. 21. BYU's last road game as a ranked team was at UNLV last year in the finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Rebels defeated the 23rd-ranked Cougars 78-70. BYU is 3-3 as a ranked team under Dave Rose with three wins and three losses last year.
WORTHY OF MENTION
? Plaisted has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games, including 21 points against No. 6 Louisville and a season-high 24 points against No. 1 North Carolina, marking the 12th time in his career he has topped 20 points. Cummard recorded his third career 20-point game and first of the season with 20 points against Hartford.
? Plaisted has scored in double figures in all six games for BYU this season.
? Cummard became the first Cougar to record a double-double this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Idaho State, the fourth double-double of his career. Plaisted added his first of the year and 10th of his career with 21 points and 12 rebounds against No. 6 Louisville before posting 24 points and 17 rebounds against No. 1 North Carolina.
? Senior point guard Ben Murdock has 27 assists and only seven turnovers in his first six starting assignments at the Division I level, ranking fifth among MWC players in assist/turnover ratio (3.8) and third in assists per game (4.5). He dished out a career-high eight assists against Jackson State. He had five assists and just one turnover against No. 6 Louisville, the fourth time this year he has dished out at least five assists.
? BYU is averaging 83.7 points per game and allowing just 64.3 ppg. BYU leads all MWC teams in scoring, three-point percentage defense (.291) and defensive rebounds (30.3).
? BYU led at the half in its first five games this season, including four double-digit leads, before trailing 38-31 against No. 1 North Carolina. The Cougars are outscoring opponents by 12.7 points in the first period of play.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ...
RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH
"Tavernari was terrific. He takes a lot of challenged shots. If you have a guy making big shots like that, it is a big help. BYU is a very good team. We were looking forward to play UNC too, but I think that BYU is a better team."
ROY WILLIAMS, NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH
"BYU is a big-time basketball team ... It was a hard-fought game all around. BYU is very sound fundamentally. They were able to box out on the boards just as well as anyone we have seen so far."
"Plaisted was sensational in the second half. Our plan coming out of the locker room was not to double team in the post because he is a good passer too, but he took it to us with a superb second half."
"I told both Tavernari and Plaisted that they are big-time players. I can admire the way that Tavernari plays. You look at Plaisted's numbers, 24 and 17, those are big-time numbers."
DICK VITALE, ESPN ANALYST
"I'll tell you what my friends, he (Trent Plaisted) is the best big man in America nobody knows about. Remember that name, Trent Plaisted, Trent Plaisted, Trent Plaisted."
"(Plaisted's) been dominant on the glass, scored big in the second half and showed an assortment of moves. I gotta believe he's going to be the best big player in the Mountain West Conference. I can't believe anyone could be better."
"Dave Rose, a former Houston Cougar, is doing a heck of a job now at BYU ... They're going to have another big year this year ... What an outstanding basketball team. I don't care what the score ends up here ... that club is going to be a factor (in the NCAA Tournament)."
"When you look at BYU, they're one of the most outstanding teams in America nobody knows about. They have some outstanding players who can really run the court."
"Tavernari can flat out shoot the jumper ... Tavernari has done a great job."
"Cummard really fills up the stat sheet. Nothing spectacular, just steady play."
"I love the way they move the basketball. They share it, and it's a team concept."
DAN SHULMAN, ESPN PLAY-BY-PLAY BROADCASTER
"After tonight, he (Plaisted) is going to be the big man in America that everyone knows about."
"The score will not reflect how close this game (BYU-UNC) was tonight."
BYU PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
TRENT PLAISTED (NOV. 26) -- BYU junior Trent Plaisted was named the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the third time in his career. Plaisted led BYU to a 2-1 record last week and a second-place finish at the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational. The Cougars defeated Hartford (97-73) and upset No. 6 Louisville (78-76) before falling to No. 1 North Carolina (63-73). Against Hartford, Plaisted scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and equaled his career-high of five assists. He made 4-of-7 shots from the floor and hit 8-of-11 free throws. In the Cougars' upset victory over the sixth-ranked Cardinals, Plaisted scored 21 points (10-for-16 shooting) and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds with one assist and one block as BYU achieved its first win over a top-6 ranked team since 1965. He scored 12 points during a 16-7 second-half Cougar run that gave them a lead they would not surrender. During the run, he also had four rebounds and one block. Against No. 1 North Carolina, Plaisted recorded season-highs of 24 points and 17 rebounds while adding two assists and one blocked shot. He shot 10-of-20 and went 4-for-6 from the charity stripe. With the Cougars trailing by seven at the half, Plaisted scored eight of BYU's first 10 points of the second stanza and assisted on a bucket to give the Cougars the lead over the Tar Heels. Overall, Plaisted scored 18 second-half points in 18 minutes on the floor. On the week, Plaisted averaged 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting 55.8 percent from the field (24-for-43).
TRENT PLAISTED (NOV. 19) -- Junior Trent Plaisted led BYU to two wins last week as the team's top scorer and rebounder. He averaged 19.0 points and 7.5 rebounds while adding 1.5 assists in home wins over Idaho State and Jackson State. Plaisted made 65 percent of his shots on 13-of-20 shooting from the floor and converted 85.7 percent of his free-throw attempts, going 12-for-14 at the line. Plaisted put up a game-high 21 points against Jackson State Friday night on 8-for-11 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 accuracy at the free-throw line. He provided the firepower for BYU to overtake Jackson State's early lead in the game. The Cougars trailed from the opening tip by as many as eight points until Plaisted gave the Cougars their first lead at 28-26 just after subbing back in at the 7:46 mark. His bucket was the beginning of an 11-2 Cougar run that gave BYU the momentum it would need to run away with the victory. During the key run, Plaisted scored eight of the 11 points and assisted the only other Cougar bucket, a three by Jonathan Tavernari. Plaisted added seven rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in his 19 minutes on the floor against the Tigers. Against Idaho State on Wednesday, Plaisted totaled 17 points and eight rebounds with one assist while going 5-for-9 from the floor and 7-of-8 at the line. Plaisted's 21 points against Jackson State marked the 10th time in his career he has topped 20 points in a game.
LEE CUMMARD (NOV. 12) -- Junior guard Lee Cummard led BYU to a runaway 74-34 win over reigning Big West Champion Long Beach State at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. Cummard helped BYU take quick control of the game by hitting his first three shots and assisting another Cougar bucket during the team's first seven possessions. BYU scored the first 10 points of the game and never looked back. Cummard scored four of the Cougars' first five points and six of their first 12. He finished with a game-high 15 points and nearly achieved a double-double by adding nine boards to share team-high honors with sophomore Jonathan Tavernari. He also contributed two assists and a steal while shooting 6-of-12 from the floor and 2-for-3 at the free-throw line.
BYU VS. RANKED TEAMS
BYU's victory over No. 6 Louisville last Friday marked the highest-ranked team the Cougars have defeated since beating No. 2 St. Joseph's, 103-83, on Dec. 21, 1965. BYU is now 50-110 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll and 1-1 this season including a 73-63 loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday in the championship game of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational. Prior to that game, the Cougars had not faced the nation's top-ranked team since Dec. 23, 1992, an 89-66 loss to No. 1 Duke at the Maui Invitational. The Cougars were 3-3 in their games vs. ranked teams last year with a 78-70 loss at then-No. 25 and evential Sweet-16 participant UNLV in the MWC Tournament Championship game, a 62-58 victory at then-No. 20 Air Force, a 90-63 win over then-No. 25 UNLV, a 61-52 win over then-No. 13 Air Force, an 82-69 loss at then-No. 5 UCLA and a 76-61 neutral court loss against then-No. 25 Michigan St.
DEFENDING THE HOME COURT
With 34 straight wins in the Marriott Center, the Cougars currently own the nation's second-longest active home victory streak. The Cougars won their home opener this season, 90-69 over Idaho State and defeated Jackson State, 100-61, and Hartford, 97-73. BYU won 17 home games last season after going 14-1 at home in 2005-06. BYU's last home loss was in the 2005-06 season opener against Loyola Marymount. BYU has since won 18 straight over nonconference opponents and 16 consecutive over MWC foes since losing its season finale in 2005 to UNLV. BYU is 405-116 (.777) all-time in the Marriott Center. The Cougars' longest home winning streak came from Feb 19, 2000 to Jan 16, 2003 when BYU won 44 straight in the Marriott Center.
Active Homecourt Winning Streaks (As of Nov. 28, 2007)
Wins Team This year Next home game
36 Memphis 4-0 Dec. 22 vs. Georgetown
34 BYU 3-0 Dec. 5 vs. Weber State
ON THE ROAD
The Cougars picked up their first road win of the year in their season opener at Long Beach State, continuing their success away from the Marriott Center. With a 1-1 record on neutral courts, BYU is now 2-1 this season away from home. BYU won five of its last seven games on the road last season including a win at then-No. 20 Air Force (62-58), snapping the Falcons' 30-game home winning streak. BYU was 6-7 on the road last year and 5-3 in conference play, becoming the only Mountain West Conference team with a winning record on the road in league play last year. The Cougars were also 2-2 in neutral court games last season.
MAGIC NUMBER: 70
BYU is now 5-0 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 3-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark while averaging 83.7 points per game and allowing just 64.3 ppg. The Cougars have scored at least 90 points in three of their six games this season, reaching 100 against Jackson State. Last year the Cougars scored an MWC-leading 78.1 points and allowed 69.0 points. BYU was 20-0 when opponents scored less than 70 points and 23-6 when it scored 70 or more points. With its scoring output, BYU recorded its highest scoring average since 1996 (82.3 ppg) and highest scoring margin since 1993 (also +9.1).
CLEANING THE GLASS
BYU has won the battle of the boards in five of six games this year with the only deficit coming against No. 6 Louisville (39-37). The Cougars posted a +4 (43-39) rebounding margin against No. 1 North Carolina in their last outing. BYU is besting opponents by an average of 8.8 boards per contest while averaging 42.5 rebounds to their opponents' 33.7. The Cougars posted a season-high +19 rebounding margin (38-19) against Hartford as four Cougars pulled down at least five rebounds. BYU began the season with a 55-40 rebounding advantage at Long Beach State, matching last year's season high of 55 boards against Seton Hall.
Five players have scored in double figures in three games this season, already matching last year's total of three games in which at least five players reached double digits. Four Cougars have led the team in scoring this year through the first five games as Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted have paced BYU twice and Sam Burgess and Jonathan Tavernari have each come out on top once. Team-high rebounding have been shared by four players through five games and assist honors by three Cougars so far this season.
The Cougars won their first five games to begin the 2007-08 season before falling against No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday, equaling their best start since 2002-03 when BYU won its first five games before falling on Dec. 7 at Creighton. The Cougars have won in dominant fashion this season, besting opponents by an average of 19.3 points per game while scoring 83.7 ppg and allowing only 64.3 points per contest.
After setting a program record with 256 three-pointers last season, the Cougars have recorded 52 makes from long range so far this season. BYU has posted double-digit three-pointers in a game twice this year with 12 against Long Beach State and 13 against Hartford, marking just the sixth time in program history that the Cougars have posted at least 13 threes in a game including a record 15 against UNLV last season. BYU is shooting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc this year and has shot at least 40 percent in three games, including a season high 59.1 percent efficiency against the Hawks (13-for-22). BYU shot above 40 percent from behind the arc 18 times on the year, including 12 of the last 15 games, and made at least 10 treys in a game on seven occasions.
Four Cougar freshman are making an impact this year as Chris Collinsworth, Jimmer Fredette, Michael Loyd, Jr. and Nick Martineau have made their respective BYU debuts with results that bode well for the future. All four saw their first action in the Cougars' season opener at Long Beach State as Fredette and Collinsworth led the newcomers in scoring with nine points each. Fredette tallied 10 points vs. Idaho State, and Loyd scored 15 points against Jackson State while Collinsworth pulled down 10 boards against the Tigers. Fredette then made noise against Hartford on Tuesday with 19 points. He shot 6-for-7 from the field, including making 4-of-5 from three-point range, while posting a perfect 3-for-3 mark from the free-throw line and tying his career high with four steals in 19 minutes. On the year, Fredette is tied for sixth in the MWC in steals (1.67) along with teammate Lee Cummard. He is tied for fifth in three-point percentage (.500) with fellow Cougar Sam Burgess.
Cougar head coach Dave Rose has used the same starting lineup in each of BYU's first six games, electing to use two seniors in Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess, returning All-Mountain West Conference selections Trent Plaisted and Lee Cummard, both juniors, and 2007 MWC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Tavernari to begin the game. Cummard started all 34 games last season, and Plaisted made 33 starts. Burgess made one start as a sophomore in 2004-05 while Murdock and Tavernari each earned their first career starts against Long Beach State. Rose used the same starting rotation in both of the Cougars' two exhibition games.
The Cougars won their first five games by an average margin of 25.2 points, including a two-point win over No. 6 Louisville, a 24-point triumph over Hartford (97-73), a 39-point win over Jackson Sate (100-61), a 21-point victory over Idaho State (90-69) and a 40-point win at Long Beach State (74-34). The win over the 49ers marked BYU's largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent since defeating Morgan State by 41 points (110-69) on Dec. 28, 1995. Including a 10-point loss to No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday, the Cougars are still besting opponents by 19.3 points per game this year. BYU won 17 games by double-digits last year, including seven by 20 or more points, and was the only team in the Mountain West Conference to not have a regular-season game decided by less than four points. With an average scoring margin of +9.1 last season, the Cougars posted their largest margin of victory since 1993 over the course of the year.
BYU is shooting 49.0 percent from the field this season while allowing opponents to shoot just 37.8 percent from the floor. The Cougars posted a season-high 60.4 percent efficiency against Hartford bolstered by a 63.6 percent second-half shooting mark (14-for-22). BYU had shot above 50 percent in each of the last six halves of play prior to shooting just 39.4 percent in the first half against No. 6 Louisville. BYU rebounded, however, to shoot 50 percent in the second half of its win over the Cardinals.
BYU's game at Portland this weekend will be a return to familiar territory for at least one Cougar. Sophomore Chris Miles recently returned from serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Portland area. Miles began his service in August of 2005 and returned last August.
The Cougars are 5-0 this season when leading at the half with four of the five advantages coming by double digits. No. 1 North Carolina was the first team this season to post a halftime lead against BYU with a 38-31 advantage at the break. The Cougars are besting opponents by an average of 12.7 points in the first period of play after while scoring at least 40 points in the first half of four of six games this season. BYU has topped the 50-point mark in the second half twice this year. The Cougars put together strong defensive starts in their first four games, holding all four opponents under 30 points at the break before No. 6 Louisville scored 37 in the first half to trail 41-37 at halftime. The BYU defense kept Long Beach State and Idaho State under 30 points, under 30 percent shooting from the field and under 10 field goals made in the first 20 minutes. The Cougars' 36-12 lead at the break in Long Beach marked their largest halftime advantage since being up by 28 points (51-23) against Western Oregon on Dec. 22, 2006. The 12 points given up by BYU in the first 20 minutes of the game at LBSU marked the fewest points allowed in a half by the Cougars since allowing a record-low 10 points against Air Force in 2003. BYU led at the half in 26 of the team's 34 games last year, including a double-digit lead 14 times. The Cougars outscored their opponents by an average of 5.9 points in the first period of play. The Cougars were 22-4 when leading at the half, 3-4 when trailing and 0-1 when tied last season.
COUGARS VOLUNTEER FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER CHRISTMAS FOUNDATION
For the ninth year, the BYU men's basketball team will join the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation in an effort to raise money for families who have children with cancer and participate in the Foundation's annual Christmas party for those families. The Foundation will be collecting monetary donations and any unwrapped toys through the first three weeks of December. Toys can be dropped off at the nearest Far West Bank location, at Harmon's Down Town Auto Center located in Provo or at the men's basketball office located next to the Ticket Office at the Marriott Center. Monetary contributions will also be accepted at the men's basketball office. One hundred percent of all donations to the Foundation will go directly towards the Christmas party for more than 90 families who have children with cancer living primarily in Utah County. A large portion of the money donated will purchase hundreds of toys that will enable these parents to have gifts under the Christmas tree for their children. In addition to all of these toys, there is food, free entertainment, such as games and ornament decorating, and local celebrities including Santa, Cosmo and the BYU men's basketball team. This is the eighth year BYU coaches, players and their families have volunteered for the Christmas party. BYU head coach Dave Rose will serve as Honorary Chairman for the third year. "This has always been a cause I feel strongly about," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "It has been such a positive experience for the coaches, players and families and is a tremendous opportunity for community members to be involved in brightening the holiday season for these children." Cheryl Rose, vice chairman of the Foundation and wife of coach Rose, discussed the challenges these families face financially and how the Foundation hopes to help these families now and in the future. "For many of these families, it is financially impossible to always have food on the table, a roof over their heads or even have Christmas," Cheryl Rose said. "We want to create a Christmas experience that they will never forget and hopefully in the future help families meet those basic needs that they can't on their own." Rose says that asking for donations has usually been difficult for her, but with such a meaningful cause it has been easy. It has enriched her life, which is something she hopes others will enjoy by contributing to these families. "It's a privilege for me to associate with these families," she said. "They are such an example to me. Even with all that they've been through, they have such a strength and passion for life. It's almost selfish on my part to be involved because I get so much out of it." This year's Christmas party will be held Dec. 19. Parents will be invited to choose the gifts their children will receive on Dec. 18. The gifts will then be distributed at the party. "The support we get from the community makes this event possible," Cheryl Rose said. "We couldn't serve these children without the donations of time, money and gifts we receive."