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BYU basketball: A look back at all of Cougars' wins over top 5 teams

Editor's note: This story was updated Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, after BYU beat No. 1 Gonzaga 79-71.

The BYU Cougars did something on Saturday night they have never done before — knock off the No. 1 team in the country.

BYU bounced top-ranked Gonzaga from the unbeaten ranks, beating the Zags 79-71 at McCarthey Athletic Center, the Cougars' third straight win in Spokane, Wash. Eric Mika led the way, with 29 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots as BYU won its first game ever against the nation's No. 1 team.

The Cougars fell behind 18-2 Saturday against the Zags, but a 19-6 run got the Cougars back in the game. TJ Haws also led BYU's sharp-shooting effort, hitting five 3-pointers while Nick Emery nailed back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half to help BYU rally from a double-digit deficit early in the second half.

BYU took its first lead with 8:38 to play, and from there, it was a close game. The Cougars scored the final 10 points of the contest, including a key jumper from Mika that put BYU up 73-71 with just over a minute to play, to knock off the Zags.

The Cougars were winless in their five previous chances against No. 1 teams, including losses to Kentucky in 1951, UCLA in 1971, Duke in 1992, North Carolina in 2007 and at home against Gonzaga earlier this season.

The closest of those games came in the 2007 loss to the Tar Heels. That Cougar squad — featuring Trent Plaisted, Lee Cummard, and Jonathan Tavernari — held a one-point lead with less than eight minutes remaining but got outscored 15-4 down the stretch in a 73-63 defeat.

With the victory over the Zags, BYU has won 22 games against top 10 teams, including seven wins against top 5 teams.

Even though only three of those games have happened in the last 50 years, the other six are also worth mentioning.

The first came during the 1954-55 season when the Cougars stunned the No. 5 ranked Utah Utes 76-74 at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse. It was the only loss for the Utes that season in Mountain State Athletic Conference action as they finished 13-1 on their way to a 24-4 season.

The Cougars finished second in the conference with a 10-4 record, but were just 13-13 on the season.

The second came on Dec. 15, 1958, when BYU knocked off the No. 3 ranked Kansas State Wildcats 77-68 in the Smith Fieldhouse. It would be the only game the Bob Boozer-led Wildcats would lose in the regular season as they tallied 20 straight wins on their way to an undefeated Big 8 record and a No. 1 ranking.

BYU didn't fare nearly as well, winning just 15 games and finishing fourth in the MSAC standings.

The Cougars' most impressive win against a top 5 opponent came as they drilled No. 2 ranked St. Joseph 103-83 at the Smith Fieldhouse late in 1965.

The Hawks would go on to win 24 games, including two in the NCAA Tournament.

As for the Cougars, they went on to win 20 games — including two against eventual Final Four participant Utah — but didn't make the NCAA Tournament. Their consolation price was a trip to New York City for the NIT where they rolled off wins over Temple, Army and New York University to come home with the school's second NIT championship.

The next time the Cougars outlasted a top 5 team came in November 1981 when they went on the road to beat the No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins 79-75 in Pauley Pavilion.

It was BYU's best win of a down season under Frank Arnold that ended with just 17 wins and an opening round loss in the NIT.

The Bruins also missed out on the NCAA Tournament that year, but won 15 of their 16 games on their way to a 21-win season and a No. 19 ranking in the final polls.

Nearly 30 years after beating the Bruins, the Cougars notched their first top 5 win in the Marriott Canter as they beat the No. 4 ranked San Diego State Aztecs in a clash that most BYU basketball fans won't soon forget.

The Cougars entered the game with a 19-1 record riding a nine-game winning streak while the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs were 20-0 on the season.

Leonard had a big night with 22 points and 15 rebounds, but BYU star Jimmer Fredette carried the day.

Fredette finished with 43 points on 14 for 24 shooting from the floor, including 5 for 8 from beyond the arc and 10 for 11 from the foul line as the Cougars handed the Aztecs a 71-58 loss.

BYU would also hand the Aztecs their only home loss of the season a month later by a score of 80-67.

San Diego State would get some revenge with a 72-54 win over the Cougars in the MWC tournament championship. The Aztecs only suffered one other loss on the season — to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Sweet 16.

As for the Cougars, they finished the year with a 32-5 record and a Sweet 16 berth of their own before falling 83-74 to the Florida Gators.

The latest win for BYU over a top 5 team came in Spokane against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in 2015. The Bulldogs entered the game with a No. 3 ranking, a 41-game home winning streak and just one loss — a 66-63 overtime loss at then No. 3 Arizona — in 30 games.

The Cougars were in dire need of a statement win to bolster their NCAA Tournament chances, and that's exactly what they got as they held on for a 73-70 win.

Kyle Collinsworth led BYU with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Gonzaga leading-man Kyle Wiltjer totaled just four points on 2 for 11 shooting.

Wiltjer and the Bulldogs would bounce back to beat the Cougars 91-75 in the WCC Tournament Championship before making a run to the Elite 8, where they lost to eventual national champion Duke. Thanks in part to the huge win over the Bulldogs, the Cougars made the NCAA Tournament as No. 11 seed, but lost 94-90 in the opening round to Mississippi.