BYU basketball has played 20 games this season — about two-thirds of the way through the season. Unfortunately, the Cougars inability to win any big non-conference clash, beat Saint Mary’s, or avoid bad losses has ripped off the “making the big dance” bandaid.
This feels eerily familiar to where the Cougars stood last season after 20 games. The 2015-16 Cougars were also 14-6 after 20 contests. They had lost on the road at St. Mary’s. Had bad losses to Long Beach State (Utah Valley) and Portland (San Diego). Lost in a mid-season tournament game against Harvard (Valparaiso). Lost two on the road at Utah and Colorado (USC and Illinois). The only difference between last year and this year is that the Collinsworth and Fischer Cougars at least pulled out one marquee win by this point — a road win at Gonzaga. The LP3 Cougs are still looking for a meaningful victory.
Despite the deja vu, this season’s at-large bid chances are shot. Especially when Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are much better this year than they were last year.
All this is to say, it was a ton of fun to watch the final 10 regular season games last year even though NCAA tournament bid dreams were gone. Why? Fans were able to route for history.
Kyle Collinsworth could get another triple double. He could continue to break ground in the record books. He was chasing the career rebound record. He was creating the 1,500 career points, 1,000 career rebounds, 500 career assists club.
These records and achievements were part of the games. Dave Rose would make adjustments and allowance for Collinsworth to chase rebound #10 to complete the triple-double — even if it was a blowout. Fans followed the stats as closely as they did the scoreboard. Collinsworth himself clearly played like he knew he was trying to break and distance records.
In that same spirit, I’d like to put forth that BYU and its fans can have a similarly fun final 11 games by tracking Eric Mika’s numbers. He isn’t chasing career records — he’s a sophomore. He isn’t narrowing in on NCAA records, just BYU records. Even still, Eric has put together an incredible season.
In fact, Eric Mika is having the best statistical season by a BYU center since Kresimir Cosic’s monster junior season. Have a look at this table that outlines the best individual seasons by the best BYU centers in history.
|Name||Points per game||Rebounds per game||Assists per game||Steals per game||Blocks per game||Field goal percentage||3 point FG percentage||Free throw percentage|
|Kresimir Cosic ('71-'72)||22.3||12.8||50||81|
|Eric Mika (20 games)||20.6||9.6||1.8||0.5||1.8||55.2||0||77.8|
|Rafael Araujo ('03-'04)||18.4||10.1||1.2||1.4||0.8||57.3||27.3||72.2|
|Brandon Davies ('12-'13)||17.7||8||2.4||1.5||1.3||53.9||35.7||68.2|
|Trent Plaisted ('07-'08)||15.6||7.7||1.5||0.4||1.0||54.2||54.2|
|Gary Trost ('92-'93)||15.2||6.9||56.1||28.6||76.1|
|Shawn Bradley ('90-'91)||14.8||7.4||1.4||0.7||5.3||55.5||100||67.1|
Think about how wild this is!
Mika comes back from Italy a few month ago, then unleashes a better season than Rafael Araujo’s senior year. Remember Araujo’s work as a senior propelled him to the #8 overall NBA draft selection. Davies was able to earn a spot in the NBA as a free agent. Plaisted was taken in the 2nd round.
As a matter of fact, Eric Mika is putting in a similar season to Cosic’s senior campaign. Cosic’s final year in Provo saw him score 20.2 points per game with 9.5 rebound per game on 48% shooting and 81% at the stripe. So, Mika is matching the output of an All-American, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, who is, without question, one of the three best players to ever put in a BYU jersey.
Interestingly enough, Cosic’s senior season wasn’t enough to win a conference championship or qualify for the NCAA tournament. Mika’s great season seems doomed to a similar fate. Shame.
Mika has an active double-doubles streak which stands at 6 games. This hasn’t been achieved at BYU in 33 years. Mika is the 5th player in program history to have a 6 game double-double streak. He joins Cosic, John Fairchild (BYU’s career leader in points per game and rebounds per game and one of the ten best to ever play at BYU), Brett Applegate (Top 50 player was Devin Durrant’s running mate in ‘82-’84), and Bruce Burton (also Top 50 and was best Y player from ‘61-’63).
Should Mika record another double-double today against Pacific, he would leave Burton behind. If he were to get to an 8th double-double against Santa Clara, Mika would surpasses Fairchild. The BYU record is 10 consecutive games and is shared by Applegate and Cosic. Meaning that 11 is the record-breaking number. Should he keep the streak rolling, Eric would break the record on February 4th against Portland. (For the sake of information, the NCAA record for consecutive double-doubles is held by the legendary Tom Gola from LaSalle Univeristy. He had 48 games in a row with a double-double — that’s how many Cosic had in his career is is the BYU record. Unsurprisingly, LaSalle plays their home games in Tom Gola Arena.)
Another fun Mika feat to watch for is his double figures scoring streak; Mika currently stands at 21 games. That’s a longer run than Collinsworth (20), Noah Hartsock (19), Chase Fischer (17), Araujo or Nick Emery (16), Plaisted (15), Lee Cummard or Matt Carlino (14).
Mika is 9 games away from making it into the official record book for consecutive games with double-figure scoring. He needs to get to 30 to get in there and it would be matching the longest streak of, once again, Kresimir Cosic. He could pass Cosic this season if he were to successfully score 10 points or more in each of the final 11 games of the regular season.
This is extremely possible. Mika hasn’t missed reaching 10 points in any game this season. Which brings up the next great list Mika can add his name too. BYU players who reached double figures in scoring in every game of a single season.
- John Fairchild (1964-65)
- Danny Ainge (1978-79, 1979-80, 1980-81)
- Jeff Chatman (1987-88)
- Michael Smith (1987-88, 1988-89)
- Jimmer Fredette (2010-11)
- Tyler Haws (2013-14)
Mika could be the first center to add his name to that list. That’s another good feather in the cap of Eric’s young career.
As BYU enters the final stretch of the season, each game has intrigue that is found in Eric Mika’s quest to cap off one of the best season’s by a BYU big man in history.