FORT COLLINS, Colo. — It's been decades since BYU registered sweeps of the Wyoming-Colorado State road swing in consecutive years. To be exact, it's been 32 years, when the late Stan Watts was the Cougar head coach.

BYU's 79-73 victory over Colorado State on Monday night, plus a Saturday win at Wyoming, produced that rare feat. BYU swept the Rams and Cowboys last season. The Monday win over the Rams lifted the Cougars to a 16-7 overall record and 6-4 mark in league play. The win, which required a punch from the Cougar bench, is BYU's fourth in a row heading into a rematch with New Mexico on Saturday in Provo.

Coach Steve Cleveland recognized the accomplishment as part of his team's "resolve" to keep winning after digging themselves a hole early in league play.

"This is so hard of a road swing," Cleveland said. "It's so hard on the young men. I was committed to play nine or 10 guys. I was going to do that from the beginning, because being on the road out of your own bed, traveling and having a different routine is hard.

"We have the same advantage when we're at home. It's always difficult. Any time you can sweep road trips in any league at any level, I think it is a notable thing."

That the Cougars beat CSU with often-missing center Matt Nelson and guard Micheal Morris on the Ram home court made it legit for Cleveland. "That says a lot about this win," he said.

Of BYU's 4-0 win streak, the win over the Rams perhaps meant the most, according to Cleveland.

"This is most impressive because we got behind," he said. "It was a struggle. The first four minutes we gave up 10 points. At that rate we were going to give up 80. But the next few minutes we locked them up defensively and got some scoring off the bench, which was critical."

After falling behind 19-8, the Cougars rallied to lead at the half 35-32. BYU regained a grip on the game in the next 10 minutes, only to be threatened by a Ram comeback in the final 10 minutes.

That was when BYU's bench stepped up.

Jake Shoff believed he needed to do something big.

"I felt we hadn't scored in a year when I went in there," Shoff said. He believed he could beat Nelson to a rebound, and he did.

BYU led CSU 55-54 with 7:16 to play when Mike Hall missed a free throw and Shoff edged Nelson for the rebound and put the ball back in the hoop. On the other end, Shoff blocked Nelson's shot, grabbed the ball out of the air and triggered a fast-break layup by Luiz Lemes. The game was never closer than five points again.

Shoff added an old-fashioned three-point play, and when Kevin Woodberry buried a 3-pointer, the Cougars were in control 69-57 at crunch time. Rafael Araujo (21 points) then delivered at the free-throw line to seal the victory.

"We showed a lot of heart tonight," Shoff said. "We got down early. This is such a hard road trip because Laramie is a tough place to get to. Being there and then coming here, the crowd is great in this building. This was absolutely huge for us."

Araujo made 7-of-10 free throws and registered 21 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Cougars. Mike Hall added 14 and Mark Bigelow 10. Shoff led the bench with nine points. The Cougars got 23 points from the bench while outscoring the Rams 46-34 in the paint and 19-0 on fast-break points.

COUGAR NOTES: The Araujo double-double was his 13th of the season, tying him for fourth in the country . . . Woodberry said CSU's coach was "yapping at me" in the second half. "I was calling out for our defense to rotate and he yelled at me to shut up. He said 'Shut up, Woodberry,' and I couldn't believe it. Even the ref came by and asked him to calm down and coach his own team. When I hit that 3-pointer, I ran by and asked him if he had anything to say. He hung his head and didn't talk to me again. I think it hurt his team, because they were trying to make a move right then." . . . The Cougars won the rebound battle 41-30 despite losing the shooting battle 49-46 percent. Nelson led all scorers with 24 points and four rebounds. "I think they saved him for us, to play on national TV for exposure and recruiting," Cleveland said. Nelson did not suit up against Utah.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com