Newly ranked BYU puts lengthy home win streak on line
Provo, UT (Sports Network) – Finally part of the national rankings at number
21 this week, the BYU Cougars try to extend one of the nation’s longest home
win streaks tonight as they entertain the Colorado State Rams in a Mountain
West Conference bout from the Marriott Center.
Thanks to a resounding 96-83 victory over New Mexico last Wednesday night the
Cougars bounced into the polls for the first time since 1993. The victory
was the seventh in a row for BYU, which has won 29 straight in Provo, the
second-longest streak in the nation entering the week behind the 30 in a row
that Air Force has claimed at Clune Arena. Not only is BYU in the national
rankings for the first time in more than a decade, the squad was also in
first place in the MWC standings with a record of 10-2 prior to the Falcons
game with the Rebels last night.
As for the Rams, who are 5-8 in league play after having a successful non-
conference run, the team has lost six of the last seven dates following a
67-58 setback to Air Force over the weekend. CSU had gone 3-0 in non-league
road tilts, but since then is just 2-4.
Thanks to a 90-78 win on the road at Moby Arena earlier this season, the
Cougars now lead the all-time series with Colorado State by a count of 80-46
heading into this meeting.
After making just eight field goals in the first half versus one of the top
scoring defenses in the nation on Saturday, the Rams fought back but found that
their deficit was too great in the loss to Air Force. Jason Smith registered
yet another double-double nonetheless, as he tallied 22 points and 10 rebounds,
both of which were team highs, while Tyler Smith recorded 10 points and reserve
Stephan Gilling nine points on 3-of-5 shooting behind the three-point line for
a team that turned the ball over 16 times. Jason Smith, who has made 59.6
percent of his field goal attempts and 124-of-164 at the charity stripe,
accounts for 16.6 ppg and is also one of the conference leaders on the glass
with 9.3 rpg. Tyler Smith checks in with 10.8 ppg and Cory Lewis another 10.2
ppg to go along with his 116 assists as the court leader for the group. The
team may be shooting 49 percent from the field these days, one of the best
marks in the MWC, but allowing opponents to convert 40.2 percent out on the
perimeter is defeating those efforts at the offensive end of the floor.
Except for Lee Cummard who made just 2-of-9 shots from the field, finishing
with six points, five rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks, every
starter for the Cougars scored in double figures the last time out. Tops on
that list was Keena Young who converted 11-of-16 from the field to finish with
23 points, to go along with nine rebounds, while Austin Ainge spread out 15
points, six boards and five dishes as well. Trent Plaisted tallied 14 points,
Jimmy Balderson had 13 and reserve Mike Rose pitched in 12 on 4-of-7 shooting
behind the three-point line. Young and Plaisted, neither of whom has yet to
take a single shot from three-point range, are leading the Cougars in scoring
with averages of 17.1 and 12.5 ppg, respectively, while also combining for
close to 13 rpg. Aside from Young and Plaisted the Cougars don’t have any other
break-out scoring stars who can take over a game on any given night, but what
they do have is consistent performers who know their roles and have been able
to push the team to 78.3 ppg, highest in the Mountain West entering the week.
Oddly enough, BYU is ranked eighth in the conference, 256th nationally, at the
free-throw line with just 65.9 percent accuracy.