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‘Big’elow ‘W’ for Cougars

He passes Cosic on scoring list

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PROVO — In the twilight of his career, BYU senior Mark Bigelow's found a new role: The man of assists.

Bigelow dished out a career high nine assists, most of them all to center Rafael Araujo, to oil up BYU's offense in a hard-fought battle with Wyoming Monday night. The Cougars defeated the Cowboys 78-64.

The win lifted BYU to 12-4 (2-1) on the season as the Cowboys dropped to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the MWC.

Bigelow made it look easy. He got on the wing and went against Steve Cleveland's season-long plan to attack the post from the top of the key. He winged in pass after pass to Araujo, especially in the crucial second half when the Cowboys stuck to the Cougars. One of his passes, a rope for a Mike Hall dunk in the first half brought the house down.

Bigelow's three with 11:51 to go in the game, pushed him past legendary and Hall of Famer Kresimir Cosic in BYU's all-time scoring list.

"This is the best overall game Mark Big-

elow has played," said Cleveland. "He played defense and had a great night getting the ball inside. We wanted Araujo to have

more touches and he may have had 35 tonight."

Bigelow's efforts help netted Araujo 24 points - back to his preseason feast. But it wasn't all that easy. The Cowboys, just like in the Huntsman Center, came at the Cougars and gave them all they wanted. Good thing the game was in Provo where BYU has a big comfort zone.

Araujo picked up his second and third personal fouls just two minutes into the second half and sat down five minutes after intermission. Cleveland then made a big gamble. His offense needed help and the big guy forced Wyoming to respect the paint.

Cleveland brought Araujo in for Jake Shoff just seconds after taking him out at the 14:09 mark to play soft, switching Garner Meads on 7-footer Alex Dunn. Araujo's job was to lag around 6-foot-9 Omoniyi Makun who failed to make a bucket in the first half.

The move paid off. Dunn got in trouble and Araujo, except for being generally intimidating and blocking three more shots, kept out of foul trouble, playing the remainder of the game without getting his fourth.

Garner Meads, taking advantage of the attention to Araujo, had 13 points and 9 rebounds - a solid effort for the redshirt freshman.

"He made a couple of baskets which gave him confidence, and he's been getting rebounds," Cleveland said. "He had . . . a great game for a freshman."

Araujo had 10 points at the half and didn't score a basket in the second until 10:30 remained in the game and he converted an old-fashioned three when Dunn hacked him on his spin move.

Araujo blocked a drive by Jay Straight a few seconds later and drew Dunn's fourth foul on the next Cougar possession. But he missed two shots at the line that could have fattened a 53-45 lead with nine minutes to play.

The game opened up looking like Saturday's Cougar blowout of Colorado State when BYU raced to a 20-7 lead in the first ten minutes on Luiz Lemes two of three first-half 3-balls. But the Cowboys had other ideas.

Wyoming scored 20 points in eight minutes, ripped off runs of 12-4 and 10-2 and when Jay Straight and David Adams hit back-to-back threes, the Pokes tied the game at 29.

"Not many teams come in here and shoot 46 percent on our floor," Cleveland said. "That shows you how tough they are. This was a very physical game. I saw them play Wyoming and I could tell they were big and long. I think Dave Adams (19 points) had a breakout game against us. He's been struggling."

During that time, Cleveland tried to insert specialist Michael Rose into the game, but Wyoming immediately put starter David Adams into the game to close daylight on Rose and the freshman never got off a shot but comitted two quick fouls in his 60 seconds of exposure.

Araujo, went a rare 3 for 9 in the first half, playing 17 minutes. But he had three blocks and a pair of steals. When Araujo blocked a drive at the rim by Tim Henry, Mark Bigelow found the handle and launched a half court rocket pass at the Cougar rim to Mike Hall who scored a slammer. The highlight film move put the Cougars ahead at the half 37-31, ending the first 20 minutes on an 8-2 Cougar spurt.

Those final three minutes proved costly for the Cougars, however. Jared Jensen, who had four points in nine minutes, fell to the floor in a scrum for the ball under BYU's basket and wrenched his back when Araujo fell and placed his 280 pounds on his rib cage.

In the early going, the Cougars outscored Wyoming 22-4 in the paint and had a 11-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

BYU travels to Air Force on Friday for a 4 p.m. showdown with the league leading Falcons in Clune Arena.

E-MAIL: dharmon@desnews.com