March 18, 2008

First Look: BYU Cougars

Brigham Young University is known for its basketball exploits. The Cougars aren't a program that brings back national championships, but the Mountain West team is good for a season every few years that will make some noise in the national discussions. From Danny Ainge to Shawn Bradley and now to current forward Trent Plaisted, BYU has been called home by a number of All-Americans and future NBA players.

This season, BYU made national acclaim early in the season by knocking off no. 6 Louisville in Las Vegas, 78-76. BYU got 50 points from its stars - Plaisted and Jonathan Tavernari - but the Cardinals were playing without two of their own stars, Juan Palacios and David Padgett.

Plaisted and Tavernari combined for 42 points and Plaisted pulled down 17 rebounds a day later as the Cougars stayed close but ultimately lost to no. 1 North Carolina, 73-63. The Cougars would late lose to Michigan State in Salt Lake City, but win the games it was supposed to win in the non-conference season. That is until the Cougars traveled to Boise State where they lost, 73-70. A week later BYU was pummeled, 79-62, at Wake Forest.

Things looked bad a week after the Wake Forest loss when BYU took a 1-0 league mark to Las Vegas and was run out of the Thomas and Mack Center, 70-41, by UNLV. The Cougars, however, went on a nine-game win streak that included a 74-48 win over UNLV in Provo before falling to San Diego State in San Diego. BYU easily took the Mountain West regular season title with a 14-2 league mark, but fell to UNLV in the Mountain West tournament championship in Las Vegas, 76-61.

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