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Dick Harmon: Mountain West Conference will sorely miss BYU, Utah

Published: Saturday, March 26 2011 10:47 p.m. MDT

The Cougars had 11 first-teamers and they include Mekeli Wesley, Terrell Lyday, Travis Hansen, Rafael Araujo, Keena Young, Trent Plaisted and multiple-year appearances by Lee Cummard and Fredette. Five of these players were named league players of the year.

These two MWC brothers combined for 516 total wins, including 213 in league play. They combined for 11 conference basketball titles outright or shared. BYU had six, the Utes five.

BYU ends its MWC existence with a Sweet 16 run, a 276-116 overall record, 126-54 in league play. The Cougars' MWC winning percentage will forever stay at a glossy .700.

Utah finishes 240-147 overall and 107-73 in MWC competition. The Ute league winning percentage stands at 59.4 percent, something two-thirds of the league would die for.

Utah and BYU were charter members of the MWC and helped create and design it. They represented a building block for the new league with storied traditions of NIT and NCAA championships and superstars, many records and lots of glitter.

The Jon Huntsman Center and Marriott Center: The images of these two arenas speak volumes.

Utah and BYU's final run in the MWC didn't come without drama. For the Utes, it was the dismissal of coach Jim Boylen after a disappointing 13-18, 6-10 campaign. It was not the exit Utah fans counted on.

For the Cougars, it was a title and a special player, Jimmer Fredette.

The college basketball story of the year was in the MWC's own play-pen.

It was MWC fans that got to see Fredette up close and personal. From Clune Arena to Viejas Arena and the Thomas & Mack, it was an unforgettable show.

And that's how it ends.

The MWC basketball run is over for the Utes and Cougars.

Who knows when the remaining MWC schools and Utes and Cougars will tangle again.

Only time will tell.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

TWITTER: Harmonwrites

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