Thursday , Mar , 08 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Cougars try to take a bite out of Horned Frogs

Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) – Onto the quarterfinals of the eighth
annual Mountain West Conference Tournament, the TCU Horned Frogs reap
the rewards of their opening-round victory by taking on 23rd-ranked BYU
this afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Two nights ago, the eighth-seeded Horned Frogs were right here defeating
New Mexico by a score of 62-54 for their first-ever MWC Tournament
victory, considering this is just the second season for TCU in the
league after coming over from Conference USA.

As for the top-seeded Cougars, they closed out the regular season with back-
to-back victories against both Air Force and Utah, snapping the homecourt win
streak of the Falcons at Clune Arena and pushing their own run to a national-
best 31 straight at the Marriott Center with the 85-62 thrashing of the
Utes on Saturday. BYU, which played in the first two title games of this
tournament, but claimed only the one against New Mexico in 2001, has a record
of 7-6 in the event.

With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the
hardwood, the Cougars lead by a count of 8-3 thanks to an 89-65 blowout
win at home in Provo during the regular season and an 85-72 triumph on
the road in Fort Worth.

The winner of this matchup will be back in action on Friday to face the
winner of the Wyoming/Air Force encounter.

TCU shot a mere 35.7 percent from the field in the first half against the
Lobos on Tuesday night, but still had the drive to come out after the break
to knock down 58.8 percent and squeeze out the eight-point win in the
opening round of the tournament. Brent Hackett exploded for a game-high 24
points on 5-of-11 shooting behind the three-point line, followed by Femi
Ibikunle with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting off the bench. Although he
finished with just eight points in 36 minutes of action, Kevin Langford made
his presence felt with a game-best 13 boards. In the end, the defense is what
got the Horned Frogs the victory as they limited New Mexico to just six
field goals in the second half of play. Although he is just a 37.5 percent
shooter from the field this season, Hackett has now joined the short list of
TCU double-digit scorers with his 11.6 ppg, behind only Langford and his 12.9

BYU led the conference in scoring this season with 77.8 ppg, even though
the squad was credited with converting a mere 66.6 percent at the free-throw
line (seventh in the conference). The Cougars picked up the slack by placing
second in the MWC from the field, hitting 49.2 percent as well as second
from out beyond the three-point line at 41.4 percent. A starter in all 30
games this season for the squad, Keena Young accounted for 17.1 ppg and
6.2 rpg, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 80.6 percent at the
charity stripe. All those numbers, along with the intangibles of being a
senior leader, were more than enough to make Young the MWC Player of the
Year. Trent Plaisted had some shaky outings here and there, but still ended
up with 12.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg. However, while he shot a very impressive 53.8
percent from the floor, his 49.7 percent accuracy at the free-throw line is
what brought the entire program down and made him somewhat of a liability in
crunch time.