ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Cougars hope to advance in the NCAA Tournament, they'll need all three of their leading scorers to make big contributions against Texas A&M today.

Lee Cummard, Trent Plaisted and Jonathan Tavernari are all capable of scoring 20-plus points. They'll have to produce more than they did last Saturday in Las Vegas, a game that could be considered a rare flop from Dave Rose's squad.

"We got to show up in the second half," said Cummard. "But watching the film (UNLV) that the coaches showed us, it looked like we just rolled over and kind of just took it. We didn't play our game in the second half. Energy wasn't there. We got to play for 40 minutes if we're going to be successful."

Against UNLV in the championship game of the Mountain West, Plaisted scored just nine points. Counting that nine against UNLV, in BYU's previous losses, he scored six points at San Diego State and five against UNLV in the regular-season loss to the Rebels back in January. Before that, he had only eight in the loss at Wake Forest and 12 in a loss at Boise State.

Plaisted's lack of scoring has been a common factor in all league losses. When he scores in the high teens or gets 20 or more, the Cougars' chances are very good.

"We're going to throw a lot of bodies at him," said Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon.

The Aggies do respect BYU's shooters and transition game.

"If we'd played this earlier in the year, we couldn't win," said Turgeon. "We've become a better team at defending outside shooters."

Aggie guard Dominick Kirk said A&M hasn't played a team like BYU that goes one in and four out with four guards who can shoot. "I can't think of a team we've played that is like them. Maybe Nebraska."

Cummard, the MWC's co-MVP, appeared to tire late last Saturday in the Thomas & Mack Center with 11 points and four rebounds in 36 minutes. He had scored 18 and 20 in the previous tourney games. Jonathan Tavernari, BYU's X-factor, managed 10 points and three rebounds in 34 minutes against the Rebels, most in the first half.

"We just need to play the way we play, we need to go out there and do the things we need to do," said Tavernari. "We need to come out, get the ball inside, run, and just play the way we play."

GAME NOTES: This is BYU's 23rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they have compiled an 11-15 overall record. ... The Cougars have gone to the Big Dance in five of the last eight seasons. ... The Cougars are 7-15 in opening-round games. ... The Aggies are 4-1 on neutral sites, with their only loss coming to Kansas (77-71) in the semifinals of last week's Big 12 Tournament. ... A&M is 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament the past two years. ... A&M wanted a Friday game due to the death of the mother of Donald Sloan in Dallas on Tuesday. ... The team attended the funeral Tuesday and took a late charter to Anaheim on Wednesday night. "We'll be ready and I expect we'll play very well against a very good team," said Turgeon.


E-mail: [email protected]