BYU has a rich history in conference basketball tournament play. Struggles defined BYU’s early tournament efforts before securing its first conference postseason championship in 1991. Here are the top five most memorable conference tournament wins in BYU history.
Jimmer Fredette had many great, great performances while at BYU, but perhaps none was better than his 52-point performance against New Mexico. BYU won the game 87-76 with Fredette hitting shots from everywhere on the court.
His 52 points broke BYU’s all-time scoring mark set by Danny Ainge 30 years prior and broke his own record for points scored in a game. His offensive outburst also set an MWC tournament all-time scoring record. The win avenged a blowout loss to the Lobos at the Marriott Center just a week prior.
The Cougars hadn’t beaten the Utes since 1995, but won 58-54 in a game that marked the resurgence of BYU basketball. It also brought back a competitive nature to the BYU-Utah basketball rivalry that had gone missing. Star Mekeli Wesley wasn’t able to contribute much due to foul trouble and a nagging hamstring injury, but sophomore Eric Nielsen stepped up big-time in his stead — scoring 17 points. The Utes had two opportunities to tie the game late, but after a missed 3-point shot by Hanno Mottola and an errant in-bound pass, BYU came away with the win.
The Cougars defeated the Lobos 69-65 to secure their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1995 and win what proved to be their lone MWC postseason tournament. Trent Whiting hit two free throws with 4.6 wins to secure the win. Tournament MVP Mekeli Wesley had one of his best nights in a Cougar uniform — scoring 30 points on 11-for-12 shooting from the field. Whiting chipped in 15 points with Terrell Lyday shutting down Lobo star Marlon Parmer throughout the game.
The first conference tournament championship is often one of the most memorable and that certainly was the case here. BYU defeated its bitter rival Utah 51-49 in overtime to make its first conference championship all the more sweet. Nathan Call hit two free throws with just eight seconds in what proved to be the game-winning points. Utah had a chance to tie, but after a Tyrone Tate blown layup the Utes fell just short. Shawn Bradley led the Cougars with 21 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Photo: Mark Philbrick/BYU
BYU defeated heavy-favorite UTEP 73-71 with one of the most memorable last-second shots in BYU history. Kevin Nixon, who had struggled throughout the game, entered with just 2.4 seconds remaining and the Cougars down 71-70, having to inbound the ball from under their own basket. Nixon received the pass and hoisted up a 54-foot prayer that was answered for the improbable victory. The shot received an ESPY nomination from ESPN for shot of the year, but more importantly, BYU won its second-straight conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a result. Gary Trost and Jared Miller both scored 17 points to lead the team in scoring.
Photo: Mark Philbrick/BYU