PROVO — BYU won its first-ever game against the top-ranked team in the country with its 79-71 win over Gonzaga in Spokane on Saturday night, marking the Cougars’ third-straight win over the Zags in The Kennel.
The Zags (29-1) had the nation’s longest active winning streak snapped, and BYU bested the final unbeaten team in the country before the first tipoff of conference tournament championship week.
“BYU deserves a lot of credit. They played us tough, and played us physical," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They hit some big shots down the stretch, and we didn’t.
“We left a lot hanging out there. We missed a lot of free throws, and turned the ball over too much to be able to win a close game.”
It was a BYU team's first win over the No. 1 team in the country since ... well, you remember.
Only six teams in NCAA history have finished the regular season unblemished, and Gonzaga was hoping to add its name to the vaunted list that includes 1976 Indiana, 1991 UNLV and 2015 Kentucky.
Alas, that will no longer be the case.
“I think we just played hard and stuck together," a beaming Eric Mika told ESPN after the game. "We were in that spot at home, down 18 points, and we didn’t just go through the motions. We stuck together. We knew that we could make the shots we could take.
“That’s what we did, and it paid off.”
While it may have been a historic moment in program history, BYU has beaten top-five opponents six times in program history.
Here’s a reminder, in case you forgot them.
1955: BYU 76, No. 5 Utah 74 (OT)
The Utes and Cougars played back-to-back, home-and-away games in Mountain States Athletic Conference play, splitting the pair of them.
BYU went on to finish 13-13 that year, finished second in the MSAC to No. 1 Utah.
1958: BYU 77, No. 3 Kansas State 68
The Wildcats suffered their only loss of the season under then-head coach Bob Boozer in the Smith Fieldhouse before finishing Big 8 play undefeated and climbing to the No. 1 ranking.
1965: BYU 103, No. 2 St. Joseph 83
BYU went on to win 20 games, but did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Cougars went to the NIT and beat Temple, Army and New York University en route to the school’s second-ever NIT championship.
1981: BYU 79, No. 2 UCLA 75
The Bruins opened their season with a loss to BYU at Pauley Pavilion, but finished with a 21-6 record in the first season under head coach Larry Farmer.
BYU, meanwhile, went 17-13 with a 9-7 mark in Western Athletic Conference play and a fourth-place finish in the WAC.
2011: BYU 71, No. 5 San Diego State 58
Jimmer Fredette scored 43 points in a 71-58 win over No. 5 San Diego State, the Cougars’ first victory over a top-five team in the Marriott Center.
They also defeated No. 6 San Diego State, 80-67, at Viejas Arena before falling to the Aztecs 72-54 in the Mountain West Tournament championship game.
2015: BYU 72, No. 3 Gonzaga 70
Kyle Collinsworth had 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists the first time BYU stunned Gonzaga in front of its home crowd.
The Zags got revenge via a 91-75 win over BYU in the WCC Tournament that springboarded them to an Elite Eight appearance.