Title Game Will Be A Rematch

By Rhiannon Potkey - March 15, 2008

LAS VEGAS -- The 2008 Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game will have a familiar feel.

No. 1 BYU will play No. 2 UNLV tomorrow night in a rematch of last year's title game. The Rebels just held off No. 6 Utah 61-55 in the second semifinal tonight in front of their home fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV beat BYU last year in the title game, and handed the Cougars a humbling 29-point loss on this floor earlier this season.

The Rebels have had two close escapes in their first two tournament games. They held off TCU in the quarterfinal and needed every one of Wink Adams' 20 points again tonight. Curtis Terry added 20 points of his own.

UNLV led 25-24 at the half, which makes both of the semifinals one-point affairs at the break. BYU led San Diego State 26-25 in the earlier semifinal.

The Utes put up an admirable fight, and have played so many close games this season under first-year coach Jim Boylen. They are a few minutes away from being near the top of the standings, but couldn't quite finish games down the stretch.

Last night, they managed to in their OT victory over New Mexico, but couldn't pull off another upset to keep their only hopes for an NCAA bid alive.

The victory should make UNLV a lock for at least an at-large bid, and BYU is already a lock. Those teams represented the Mountain West in the Big Dance last year, and this season should be the same.

Short shots:

- BYU juniors Lee Cummard and Trent Plaisted are veterans of the tournament, and it showed tonight.. They combined for 39 of BYU's 63 points. "The stakes are high and we want to play and continue to play. We know our team counts on us a lot for certain things, and leadership being one of them."

- The Cougars held SDSU leading scorer Lorrenzo Wade to 10 second-half points on 5 of 15 shooting from the field. He scored 28 points in the last meeting between the teams. Cummard got the main assignment, but BYU threw several different looks at Wade.
"Lorrenzo is such a versatile player, and the challenge we felt as a coaching staff after playing him twice is that he loves to post up, but he's not your typical post player because he has so many guard skills," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "He can back-dribble, he can get space. He's a great passer."

- Wade was frustrated by in his inability to help his team win, "I needed to be more - I don't know - intense out there on the floor and a better leader. ... When I got in the second half, I don't think I made the best decisions."

- San Diego State finished 20-12 this season. "I think we've got a program that expects to win 20 games. Now we've got to raise the bar even further," San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher said. "It's been raised for us. But we've got to raise it further and say, 20 ain't enough. We want to win this league. We want to be with one game to go with a chance to win the league. We want to do what BYU's done the last two years, what we did three years ago."

Posted by Rhiannon Potkey at 01:58 AM on March 15, 2008

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