PROVO, Utah (Feb. 14, 2007) -- The BYU Cougars improved on their home court winning streak by beating the New Mexico Lobos, 96-83, on Wednesday in front of a Marriott Center crowd of 11,112. The Cougars are currently tied for the nation's longest home winning streak.
This was also BYU's seventh straight victory beginning with a victory at New Mexico on Jan. 24th. The Cougars improved to 20-6 overall and 10-2 in Mountain West Conference play.
"I thought we got good balance tonight, especially scoring with five guys in double figures," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "It's a good team win against a tough team."
Five Cougars scored in double figures, led by Keena Young with 23 points, Austin Ainge with 15 points, Trent Plaisted with 14 points, Jimmy Balderson with 13 points and Mike Rose with 12 points.
Young, the MWC Co-Player of the Week, started strong, scoring six of BYU's first eight points. Plaisted recorded his first block of the game with the score tied at 10-10. He went on to go one-for-two from the charity strip, with just under 15 minutes to play.
"I have a lot of respect for Keena (Young)," said New Mexico head coach Ritchie McKay. "He's a good player. That team doesn't have many weaknesses if any."
With 13:48 left in the first half Balderson and Ainge hit back-to-back three-pointers giving the Cougars a 17-10 lead before New Mexico's Kellen Walter got one of his own.
Ainge recorded his first block of the season with BYU leading 25-19. With just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, Young scored his 10th point of the game, marking the 22nd time he has scored in double figures this season.
Rose made his first points of the game from behind the arc with 6:18 to play in the half. After a trip to the free-throw line for the Lobos and a three-pointer from Jamaal Smith, BYU still led 34-28.
Rose hit his second three of the night with 4:53 to play in the first half. Less than a minute later, his third three-pointer went down. A jumper by Young with 1:28 to play in the first half brought the score to 47-36. Going into the half the Cougars led 51-41.
BYU began the second half with a three-pointer by Ainge, his third of the game. A one-handed dunk by J.R. Giddens brought the Lobos to within nine with 18:03 to play in the second half.
With just over 15 minutes to play in the second half, New Mexico's Walter scored his team's ninth three-pointer of the game. The Lobos went on an 8-0 run before Plaisted capitalized on a three-point play and a dunk on the ensuing drive, giving the Cougars a 10-point lead.
A pass from Lee Cummard resulted in a fast break lay-up by Sam Burgess with 10:14 to play in the game. Young went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line to put the Cougars up by 13.
"We did a good job attacking the ball, adjusting to the defense they threw at us and sharing the ball," said Coach Rose. "That was the key to the win tonight."
Cummard made his first bucket from behind the arc with 8:30 left in the second half, soon followed by his first blocked shot of the game.
Young secured the rebound off of Plaisted's missed free throw to give the Cougars two points with under five minutes to play in the game. BYU's 20-point lead, the largest of the game, came with 4:20 on the clock. A saved turnover by Jonathan Tavernari resulted in a lay-up by Burgess.
"We're trying a few different things," said Rose. "We're just trying to get better in February. I think that's what every team is trying to do at this point in the season, no matter where they are."
Giddens led New Mexico with 19 points, and Chad Toppert led the team with six rebounds. The Lobos had a .538 three-point shooting percentage, and each player who received playing time scored.
"You will be hard pressed to find another team like [BYU]," said McKay. "I like their chances [at the MWC Tournament]."
Up next the Cougars have a week off before hosting the Colorado State Rams on Feb. 21. The game will be televised on the mtn. at 8 p.m. MT.