By SETH LEWIS
Their paths to Provo make Terrell Lyday and Mekeli Wesley an unlikely pair.
Lyday comes from Fresno, Calif., while Wesley’s from the halls of Provo High School, just blocks from the Marriott Center.
Together now at BYU, they’re indispensable.
They account for nearly half of the Cougars’ offense, which the Mountain West Conference’s coaches recognized Monday, naming Wesley to the league’s second team and tabbing Lyday as Newcomer of the Year.
“It’s always nice when you get recognized,” said Wesley, a junior forward averaging 17.8 points a game. “I’m excited about that.”
He had to wonder, though, why Lyday — who averages 17.3 points and a league-leading 2.9 steals per game — was conspicuously missing from the all-conference squads.
“I was shocked and surprised,” Wesley said. “It was kind of weird that Terrell was Newcomer of the Year, but wasn’t on the first team. That doesn’t make much sense to me.”
Snubbed or not, Lyday and the Cougars have Thursday’s first-round conference tournament matchup with New Mexico (1 p.m., KJZZ-TV) in Las Vegas to worry about.
“By watching the film, we realized that they scored at will on us,” Wesley said of the Lobos’ regular-season sweep of the Cougars. “We’ve got to fix that.”
BYU can start with figuring out how to collar the MWC’s leading scorer, guard Lamont Long, who racked up 27 and 28 points in two games against the Cougars this season.
“We need to find an answer for Long,” BYU coach Steve Cleveland said.
That’s funny, since teams have been trying to find an answer for the Wesley-Lyday combo all year.
Together they’ve taken the Cougars to an 18-9 season — their best since going 22-10 in the 1994-95 campaign.
The all-conference accolades reflect the Cougars’ meteoric rise from the depths of a 1-25 season three years ago.
“It’s just a tribute to what we’ve done as a team,” Wesley said. “We’re a totally different team. This is the year we’re turning the corner.”
Thanks in part to the inside-outside duo born over the summer, when Wesley polished his skills and Lyday transferred from Fresno City College.
“I tried to add something to my game,” Wesley said. “My freshman year, all I had was a jump shot and a standstill ‘three.’ I learned how to take the ball to the basket.”
Lyday — who has scored in double figures the last 16 games — brought a syrupy-sweet three-point shot from Fresno.
“I’m excited for Terrell,” Wesley said. “That’s a big honor to be named Newcomer of the Year. He definitely deserved it.”
FIRST TEAM ALL-MWC: forward Alex Jensen, Utah (conference player of the year); guard Lamont Long, New Mexico; center Kaspars Kambala, UNLV; forward Hanno Mottola, Utah; forward Josh Davis, Wyoming.
SECOND TEAM ALL-MWC: forward Ceedric Goodwyn, Colorado State; guard Mark Dickel, UNLV; guard Anthony Blakes, Wyoming; guard Jarvis Croff, Air Force; Wesley.