LAS VEGAS — BYU has no idea where it'll end up in the NCAA tournament or where the selection committee will place the Cougars today.

But they believe they deserve a higher seed than a year ago and that losing to UNLV on Saturday shouldn't pull them down. The Cougars lost to Xavier as an eight seed in 2007.

"I have no idea where we'll be seeded," said senior Sam Burgess. "I wouldn't even guess."

The Cougars will be placed in first-round games at either Denver, Colo.; Anaheim, Calif.; Washington D.C., or Omaha, Neb.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had BYU as the No. 8 seed in Anaheim, playing No. 9 St. Mary's prior to Saturday's the MWC tournament title game.

"We have no say at all, our work speaks for itself," said Jonathan Tavernari. "We went 14-2 in this league, won 27 games and we just lost to a very good UNLV team that played one of their best games of the season on their home court.

"I don't know how they'll see that when selection time comes, but I believe we deserve a better bid than we got last year."

Lee Cummard, who scored 11 points, mostly in the first half, expects Saturday's loss won't kill BYU's seeding.

"We know we're a good team. We're actually a really good team," he said. "I don't think this will have an effect on what happens next week. We know we are still going to be playing and we're looking forward to competing."

BYU players were quick to credit the Rebels and even faster at putting the disappointment of the loss in their rearview mirror in the hour following UNLV's 76-61 win in the Thomas & Mack Center.

"I don't think we lost some of our aggression," Cougar freshman Jimmer Fredette said. "They just stepped up and hit some big shots. It's not like we weren't playing hard, playing good 'D.' We were trying to get out of their shots, they were just able to stick 'em."

The Cougars failed to match UNLV's energy and firepower the second half after leading by 11 in the first half on a barrage of 3-point shots. Those shots were not there for BYU in the second half, as the Rebels started the second half with a 12-1 run.

In his first MWC tournament ever, Fredette posted the second-highest scoring total of his career — 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor.

Fredette was BYU's most productive offensive weapon in the game. Regular scoring leaders Trent Plaisted had nine points, Cummard added 11 and had Tavernari added 10. The Cougars outshot the Rebels 44 to 41 percent but were outrebounded 36-25, the ultimate difference in the game — that and Wink Adams' 14 straight points in the second half.

What did Fredette learn?

"That it's a live-or-die situation," he said.

"All the teams are coming out here to play, to try to get into the NCAA tournament. They're going to do anything it takes to be able to win that game.

"You know, the intensity is much higher. The crowds are great. So just be ready for that next year."