WAC TOURNAMENT : BYU Upends Utah in Overtime

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a moment Utah guard Tyrone Tate will never forget.

Problem is, it was a moment he'd like to.

Tate missed a wide-open layup with two seconds left in overtime, and then missed a tip at the buzzer, and No. 8 Utah lost the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game Saturday to Brigham Young, 51-49, in front of 6,259 in the Arena-Auditorium.

BYU (20-12) earned an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, and Utah (28-3), which also will be invited, did nothing more than possibly damage its seeding for the NCAA tournament.

BYU's Nathan Call made two free throws with eight seconds to play in overtime to make it 51-49. After a timeout, Utah got the ball in to Josh Grant, who took it three-quarters of the way down the right side of the court, stopped, looked . . . and saw Tate, who couldn't have been more open. BYU's Gary Trost was covering Grant, and Call, who should have been on Tate, had run over to double-team Grant. Nobody was within five steps of Tate, a sophomore guard who sat out last season because he didn't meet Proposition 48 requirements.

Trost: "The ball went over my head, I looked over and (Tate) was wide open. I thought it was double-overtime. Like someone said, it just fell out. I looked around, and didn't hear any whistles. It took about five seconds to figure out we had won."

Utah Coach Rick Majerus: "You can't get a better shot than that. I feel bad for Tyrone because he believes he lost the game, and that's ridiculous."

Grant: "Tyrone was in the paint, so I gave it to him. That shot mirrored how we played the whole game. We all missed easy shots and all took bad shots."

Offensively, it was a dreadful game. Utah shot 34% from the field; BYU shot 33%. Utah made only one field goal during a 9:02 span in the first half, and then went scoreless the first 4:29 of the second half. The Utes trailed at halftime, 18-15, and their 15 points equalled the lowest points in a half in WAC tournament history.

Tournament most valuable player Shawn Bradley, who led BYU with 21 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, set a tournament record for both rebounds (34) and blocked shots (11). Bradley, 7-foot-6, surpassed the former blocked shot record of 10 set by San Diego State's Leonard Allen in 1985.

"If you ask me what I want financially in life, it would be to be Bradley's agent," said Majerus, who received a standing ovation when he entered the arena before tipoff wearing a bright yellow Wyoming sweatshirt. "He'll be the best player ever to play in the WAC, period."

Majerus said he didn't know what to think of the NCAA seedings, which will come out this afternoon.

"I don't have any idea," he said. "Wherever we go, everybody is good. If we play Vegas in the first round, realistically, we are in trouble."

Asked what seed he thinks his team, which set a WAC record with 28 victories, deserves, Majerus again hedged.

"I really don't know," he said. "I watch ESPN at night, but not with a clinical eye. I just can't sleep. I like to be entertained by their announcers. I watch it in lieu of reading.

"I'm just so discouraged we wore down."

WAC Notes

The hot rumor both here and at the Big West Tournament has UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian heading to San Diego State to replace Jim Brandenburg and be reunited former boss Fred Miller, SDSU athletic director. Utah Coach Rick Majerus asked a couple of San Diego reporters about it, an article appeared in Saturday's Long Beach Press-Telegram. Only one problem, said Miller Saturday night: It's not true.

"It's pure fiction," Miller said. "There's no substance to it. I'm appalled. I haven't talked to Jerry since last summer in San Diego. We had a sandwich together at the beach." Miller gave Tarkanian, who owns a condo in San Diego, his first college job, in 1968, at Cal State Long Beach. "I gave him a job 23 years ago," Miller said of the rumor's origin. "We talk, what is it, nine months ago? How far can the imagination go?"

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