Tuesday, February 25, 2003

No. 22 Utah 71, Brigham Young 64

Utah wins ninth straight

By Doug Alden
The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY - There was no split in the Brigham Young-Utah series this time.

Utah got the first series sweep between the state rivals in three years by beating BYU 71-64 on Monday night and increased its lead in the Mountain West Conference.

"It's unbelievable. To beat BYU two times in a row, there's not a better feeling. They're a tough team," said Utah's Britton Johnsen, who finished with nine points and was one of four Utes to go 2-for-2 from the free-throw line down the stretch.

Nick Jacobson scored 23 points and Tim Frost had 21 for the Utes (21-4, 9-1), who won their ninth straight and increased their lead over the Cougars (18-7, 7-3) with just four games left in the regular season.

"It feels good, but honestly it feels good to be in control of the Mountain West a little bit more because we didn't win it last year. That's our goal," said Jacobson, who was 4-for-7 on 3-pointers.

Utah committed 20 turnovers, but made up for it at the free-throw line, where the Utes were 23-for-25 and sealed the win by making their last eight attempts.

Travis Hansen and Rafael Araujo both scored 13 to lead BYU. Mark Bigelow finished with 12 points for the Cougars, who couldn't get closer than three points after falling behind by 13 early in the second half.

BYU was just 5-for-19 from 3-point range, going 3-for-10 in the second half.

"We put ourselves in position to win, but we've got to knock down those shots in the second half," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said.

The game heated up quickly after halftime when Jacobson went down hard in the lane after getting fouled. When Jacobson got up, he quickly started walking toward the Cougars. Hansen cut him off and the officials immediately stepped between the two players.

Araujo was called for an intentional foul and Jacobson made both free throws to put the Utes up 35-28. Then Frost got open below the basket and was fouled while dunking. He made the free throw and Utah led by 10.

The Utes extended the lead to 13, but the Cougars never let it get too far out of hand.

BYU's Kevin Woodberry made a 3-pointer to start a 9-2 run that got BYU to 51-47 midway through the half and the Cougars kept within range until the end.

Woodberry hit another 3 that cut the lead to 63-59, then made a steal at midcourt and went 1-for-2 from the line after getting fouled to get the Cougars to 63-60. But that was as close as it got.

Mark Jackson, Johnsen, Frost and Jacobson all were perfect from the line after the Cougars were forced to foul.

"That's big for us, obviously," Jackson said. "It makes it more difficult for teams to catch us at the end when they try to foul us. Britton was huge for us from the line."

Johnsen, who played just four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, was 3-for-4 from the line after being shut out in the first half. Jackson, who went 13-for-13 in Utah's 79-74 win at BYU on Jan. 25, was 6-for-6 from the line Monday.

"Guys just played clutch basketball at the end," Johnsen said.

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