Monday, March 12, 2001

BYU center mountain of man


Wesley was MVP of Mountain West

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        University of Cincinnati assistant coach Dan Peters watched college basketball on TV from 5 p.m. Saturday until almost 3 a.m. Sunday.

        The final game he saw was Brigham Young and New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship. How convenient.

BYU FACTS
  • About the school: Location — Provo, Utah; Nickname — Cougars; Colors — Blue and white.
  • Record: 24-8 (10-4 Mountain West Conference)
  • Bid: Automatic, won conference tournament
  • Coach: Steve Cleveland (67-56, fourth year)
  • Key players: Mekeli Wesley, 6-9 Sr. F (17.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, .521 FG%); Terrell Lyday, 6-3 Sr. G (16.5 ppg, .403 3FG%); Trent Whiting, 6-0 Sr. G 14.3 ppg)
  • Notable: The Cougars do not play or practice on Sundays for religious reasons.
        BYU, which won 69-65, will face Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

        “I had no idea we were going to play them,” Peters said. “I was just watching because I watched all the games. I wish I could just enjoy it, but you tend to be analytical.”

        So? “I think it's a good matchup for us,” Peters said. “We have a little more quickness than them. They pass the ball very well. They move very well. They play good team defense.”

        The Cougars mostly play with four players on the perimeter. But the guy in the middle is 6-foot-9 senior Mekeli Wesley, the Mountain West Player of the Year, tournament MVP and the team's top scorer (17.0 ppg) and rebounder (5.5) who is also a 3-point threat.

        The only other double-digit scorers are senior guards Terrell Lyday and Trent Whiting, a transfer from Utah. The three combined for 56 of the team's 69 points against New Mexico.

        Wesley scored 30 points Saturday night and has scored more than 20 points in four of the past five games, all BYU victories on the road.

        The Cougars (24-8), seeded 12th, are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years.

        “We're not overwhelming anybody with our size or our presence,” fourth-year coach Steve Cleveland said. “But we play intelligently and we guard well. I don't really know (UC) Coach (Bob) Huggins. He's an icon in this business. I've watched his teams very closely. The thing I like about them is they defend, and that's what we've tried to hang our hat on.”

        Cleveland said his team prefers a halfcourt game and man-to-man defense.“We know we're up against it,” he said. “Hopefully, we'll make this thing competitive.”

Cincinnati.com tournament coverage



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