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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Freshman Jonathan Tavernari scored 18 points and Brigham Young used a late first half scoring run to take control in a 70-49 win over slumping New Mexico on Wednesday night.
Tavernari tied his career high on a night when Keena Young, the Cougars leading scorer, scored just eight points, six of them in the game's final five minutes. Trent Plaisted added 11 points for the Cougars (14-6, 4-2 MWC).
New Mexico (12-10, 1-5) has lost six of the last seven. Tony Danridge led the Lobos with 21 points as New Mexico scored a season-low point total.
J.R. Giddens, the Lobos' leading scorer, did not start and went scoreless. He left the game with 12:24 in the second half with an injured left ankle. Giddens, who has been hobbled by the same ankle since spraining it a month ago, hopped off the court and grimaced in pain.
BYU took control by scoring the last 11 points of the first half for a 37-28 lead. The Cougars hit their last six shots of the first half after the teams had traded the lead 17 times.
Tavernari hit back-to-back 3-pointers, reserve guard Sam Burgess hit two free throws and a 3-pointer in the run.
New Mexico got within 43-37 with 13:27 left on a 3-point play by Danridge, but Tavernari hit a layup while all alone under the basket and after Giddens went out, Tavernari hit a bankshot and the Cougars regained the momentum for good.
BYU guard Austin Ainge had 8 assists and 8 points and BYU forced 15 New Mexico turnovers.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-01-24-07 2226MST