ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Cougars left the NCAA Tournament with memories of what they did in the regular season and tried to forget how they finished in postseason.
Head coach Dave Rose took time after BYU's loss to Texas A&M to remind his team that they won a league title, will wear championship rings and hang a banner in the Marriott Center for the second straight year and had much to be proud of.
The Cougars lost to A&M 67-62 Thursday night here in the Honda Center, in the first round of the NCAA West Regional.
"I spent quite a bit of time with our team in the locker room afterwards. And that is kind of what we talked about, was the great things that this team has done this year. I'm not going to make anybody feel much better right now, but I wanted those guys to leave the locker room just knowing how proud our staff is of what they accomplished."
The Cougars finished 27-8, the most regular season wins in school history (25) and the second-best 35-game record since the 1950-51 team went 28-7 before finishing 28-9. The team set a school mark for 3-point buckets and rebounds.
The 14-2 MWC mark set a conference win record.
"We won the title back to back," said Rose. "We defeated a ranked team in the Top 10 (Louisville) for the first time in a while. We've got a nice home-court winning streak going. There are a lot of good things that are going on with BYU basketball."
Rose said one of his players said they'll get to hang a banner in the Marriott Center and there are a lot of NCAA Tournament teams that will lose and not get that opportunity to hang a title banner where they play.
"To win a championship is quite an accomplishment. And so, to separate one season from the next, when you win a championship and you have an opportunity to have your players wear a ring around for the rest of their lives, that says they are champions, to hang a banner in your arena that says they're champions, that's a special season."
Rose and Company bid farewell to senior starters Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess.
Trent Plaisted saluted his teammates. "We love those guys. We feel really bad for them. It's heartbreaking to end your career on a loss, but a lot of people do it. And we wanted to get over that hump and get a few wins in a tournament. But these guys are great people and they're going to, you know, be part of BYU basketball forever."
Murdock and Burgess came to the Cougars out of the junior college ranks at Dixie State College and Snow College, but both prepped in Utah.
"I feel bad for the seniors that will be gone and won't be here to start off and do it all over again next season," said sophomore Chris Miles. "But I'm excited about the guys we have coming back and to try and make a run next year."
One of those is freshman Jimmer Fredette, who shined in his first NCAA game, scoring 10 points and making big shots to jump start the Cougars after a 11-0 Texas A&M start.
"There are a lot of positives to take from making the tournament two times in a row," said Fredette. "Next year we have to go out again and work hard to try and make it back and try and get a win in the tournament."