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FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 10, 2007) - The Cougars maintained their hold on the top spot in the Mountain West Conference Saturday night with an 85-72 win over the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas. The win, BYU's sixth straight overall and fourth consecutive on the road, improves the Cougars to 19-6 on the season and 9-2 in MWC play.
"I'm really proud of our guys," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "This is a tough team to play against, especially here in this building. We shot well and played at a good pace. Anytime you shoot 60 percent, especially on the road, is a great night."
BYU was led by Keena Young with 25 points, the third time in the last four games he has topped the 20-point mark. Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted also scored in double figures with 16 and 11 points, respectively, while Cummard paced the Cougars on the boards with seven rebounds. Cummard's 7-for-9 shooting performance helped BYU shoot a season-high .615 (32-for-52) from the field.
"Lee (Cummard) made some huge plays for us, but that's what we've come to expect from Lee," said Rose. "When you see his lines after the game with points, rebounds, blocks, assists, steals, those are all things that really, really help your team. He plays at a really good pace, shares the ball really well and is a great team player. He has a great future in the couple years he's got left here."
The Cougars struck first with two free-throw makes from Young just 35 seconds into the game. TCU scored the first bucket of the game with a three-pointer on the next possession, but Plaisted took control with back-to-back makes to spark a 9-0 Cougar run, including a jumper from Austin Ainge and a long-range bucket from Cummard.
After falling behind 11-3, the Horned Frogs put together a 10-0 run to take a 13-11 lead. Despite making four of their first five shots, BYU struggled early on with the Horned Frogs' full-court pressure, recording four early miscues. Cummard stopped the bleeding for the Cougars with a one-handed tip and then tied the game again off an assist from Ben Murdock after a TCU score.
BYU got some bad news when Plaisted was forced to check out at the 13:03 mark with two fouls, but Young made up the difference in the post with three straight makes to put the Cougars up 21-15. TCU's Alvardo Parker ended the 6-0 Young run, but Mike Rose drained a three-pointer off a long pass from Jimmy Balderson to extend the BYU advantage to 24-17 with 9:51 left in the half.
A three-point play from TCU followed by a layin on the next Horned Frog possession cut the lead to two at 24-22, but BYU's bench came up big with a drive and score from Jonathan Tavernari and a Vuk Ivanovic layin. Back-to-back makes from Cummard, including a putback and a fastbreak layin off his first steal of the game, pushed the BYU advantage to 32-22.
TCU's Brent Hackett ended the 8-0 Cougar run with a jumper at the 4:13 mark but was answered by Young, who reached double digits at 10 points with the layin. The Cougar dominance continued as they built a 41-29 halftime lead, their 19th of the year, while holding the Horned Frogs to just three buckets in the last 8:32 of the period.
Plaisted returned to the game in the second half to record a three-point play on the first Cougar possession, but a 5-0 TCU spurt cut the lead back to 10 points at 44-34. Cummard continued his hot shooting with his sixth make in seven tries. However, Plaisted's luck ran out just seconds later as he picked up his fourth foul at the 16:38 mark and was forced to once again ride the pine.
The two teams traded scores to a 49-38 Cougar lead until Murdock took a pass from Cummard and drained an open three-pointer and then answered a TCU score with a layin to put BYU up 54-40.
Despite shooting percentages hovering around or above 50 percent for both teams, neither could find the basket from the floor over the next two minutes as TCU settled for two points from the free-throw line and BYU recorded three. Tavernari finally ended the drought with a three-point make at the 12:43 mark to give the Cougars a 59-42 lead.
BYU continued to maintain a double-digit advantage over the next several minutes thanks in part to its bench play and despite continual pressure from TCU, who refused to go without a fight. The Horned Frogs kept the Cougars shy of a blowout with clutch free-throw shooting, making six of seven over a two-minute period despite being held without a bucket from the field to keep the BYU lead at 12 points, 65-53.
After withstanding the TCU spurt, the Cougars put together a 10-4 run of their own to take a 75-57 lead and all but put the game away with just over four minutes remaining. A flurry of three-pointers from the Horned Frogs proved too little too late as BYU recorded the 85-72 win.
The Cougars will now return home to take on the New Mexico Lobos (14-11, 3-7 MWC) in the Marriott Center where BYU has won its last 28 games. The Wednesday night game will tipoff at 7 p.m. and can be seen live on the MountainWest Sports Network (the mtn.). BYU defeated New Mexico 70-49 earlier this season in Albuquerque.
"We'll have a big challenge in New Mexico," said Rose. "Hopefully we'll get a good crowd and get the energy going."