LAS VEGAS — Dave Rose is already the most successful coach in BYU basketball history, if success is determined by the number of games you win compared to the number of games you lose.
His record of 141-41 gives him a win rate of 77.5 percent, with second place occupied by Roger Reid at 66.4 percent. Rose's BYU resume is so impressive that the gap between first and second place on the career win percentage list is greater than the gap between second and ninth place.
Rose has an even more remarkable Marriott Center record of 82-4 (95.3 percent), easily the best home record in school history. Rose's 82 Marriott Center wins in five-plus seasons are second only to Reid's 92 home wins in seven-plus campaigns.
In conference play, Rose's 64-16 mark is the best in Mountain West Conference history, while his overall win percentage also leads the league since its inception. Rose has won three MWC regular season championships in his previous five seasons.
He has 20-plus win seasons in every year of his tenure, and if his team qualifies for the NCAA Tournament this spring, he will have led BYU to five consecutive Big Dance bids for the first time in school history. In 2010, Rose's Cougars won a first round NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 17 years.
Despite all of his success, there are two things left for Rose to cross off his MWC "bucket list," and one can be accomplished tomorrow night in Las Vegas. Rose has a record of 0-8 against UNLV at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Rose's teams have won at least twice in every other league arena, but remain without a single win on the Rebels' home floor. The other deed left undone is to win a conference tourney title game, which of course also takes place at the T&M. Under Rose, BYU has twice played and lost to UNLV on its home hardwoods in the conference championship game.
"I think it's really important that our players understand the challenge," says Rose. "This is a real challenge for us, but it's a great opportunity. It's not going to determine who wins the league, because we've won the league quite a few times and haven't won in there, but it's an opportunity for this group to do something that's pretty special."
The eight away losses to UNLV have been by an average of 11.1 points per game, with only two of the games decided by fewer than eight points. The Rebels have consistently played some of their best games of the year against BYU in Las Vegas, in front of frenzied home crowds who annually view the BYU game as a "must-have" ticket.
"They've sold out the BYU game the last three years or so, and I think the only games they've sold out in the last 10 years of 12 years have been against BYU," Rose says. "It is a big game for them, and it's a big game for us. Hopefully we can go down there and play well."
BYU has rarely put forth typical offensive performances in Vegas. Perennially one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, BYU has failed to reach its season scoring average in any of Rose's eight games at UNLV, with a per game outing of 66.6 points per game. BYU has yet to top 75 points in any of the eight contests, while UNLV has averaged almost 78 points per game in the home games against the Cougars.
"We have to play on attack," Rose says. "We have to be willing to be aggressive, make plays, play through contact — all of those things that (UNLV does) really well, and we need to score the ball. Offensively, that's the key for us; we need to go down there and score consistently like we do."
In this final go-round through the MWC, and now facing his final regular season conference game at UNLV, Rose doesn't shy away from acknowledging the hurdle that Wednesday night's game represents.
"We've done a lot of things here," Rose says, "and this is one thing that we need to get accomplished."
It's one of the very few things that Dave Rose has yet to do at BYU.
Greg Wrubell is the radio play-by-play "Voice of the Cougars," and hosts BYU Football and Basketball Coaches' Shows on KSL Newsradio and KSL 5 Television. Wrubell's blog "Cougar Tracks" can be found at byu.ksl.com. "Behind the Mic" is published every Tuesday during the BYU football and basketball seasons. E-mail: email@example.com