BYU basketball report card: Star guards devastate the Cardinal defense (6 items)
A total of 215 points is a lot in any basketball game. In a 40-minute college game, it is nearly unheard of.
Fortunately for BYU fans, the Cougars scored 112 of those points in a memorable road win over the Stanford Cardinal on ESPN 2 Monday night, winning 112-103 in a contest that wasn’t that close. The Cougar offense was about as good as it gets, putting up nearly three points per minute — at a rate that would equate to 134 points in an NBA game.
BYU started hot and stayed that way as guards Kyle Collinsworth, Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws took turns controlling the game, with contributions at key times from big men Eric Mika and Nate Austin, and steady play off the bench from guards Anson Winder and Frank Bartley IV. The Cougar defense was not exactly a stone wall, as evidenced by the scoreboard, but BYU had spurts of aggressive takeaway defense that were sufficient to take over the game.
It was the kind of road win against a power conference team that, more often than not, has escaped BYU. Stanford has been an underachieving program the last few years, having not made the NCAA Tournament since 2008. Since 2010 in particular, however, the Cardinal has had great success in recruiting, and this is the year many expect that recruiting to finally pay off with an NCAA Tournament run.
According to Scout.com, Stanford received commitments from five 4-star players and five 3-star players from 2010-12, so the talent is certainly there — at least on paper. In fact, junior point guard Chasson Randle, senior power forward Dwight Powell and junior small forward Anthony Brown were all rated in the top 12 at their respective positions coming out of high school.
The season has not started quite as impressively as Stanford fans hoped it would, with the team escaping Bucknell by only four points, 72-68, on its home court. Certainly after Monday night’s game, any pessimism Cardinal fans may have felt will only deepen. Meanwhile, Dave Rose’s group may very well be a legitimate top-25 team this season and could rise in the rankings if it can continue to build momentum going into games against Iowa State, Texas and Utah State the latter part of this month.
Here's how each position group fared in Monday night’s offensive explosion.
Nathan Gagon is a finance manager by day and writer/musician by night, but mostly he is a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life around the clock. Oh, and he shoots about 94 percent from the free-throw line ... no big deal.
1 of 6. BYU GUARDS
Matt Carlino took over the game midway through the second half to push the lead over 15 and played under control long enough for BYU to build an insurmountable lead.
Tyler Haws was good throughout the game and brilliant in the second half, hitting shots from every angle and keeping constant pressure on the Stanford defense by moving relentlessly without the ball, as per the norm.
As if that wasn’t enough, Anson Winder and Frank Bartley IV were outstanding off the bench, hitting 5-8 shots, dishing five assists and playing disruptive defense.
This grade was an A+ until the last few minutes of the game, when Carlino seemed to forget that the shot clock was longer than 10 seconds, despite the fact BYU had a big-but-shrinking lead and obviously needed to run some clock.
2 of 6. BYU BIG MEN
Mika continued to show athleticism, physicality and skill as a passer, while also demonstrating a few promising offensive moves in the paint. No question he struggled rebounding and guarding at times, and had moments where he looked like an unsure freshman, but he was a big part of that first half for the Cougars, which was largely where the game was won.
Nate Austin had one of his better overall games as well, scoring 12 points on just seven shots while pulling down eight boards and providing a presence in the paint defensively during a couple of key Cougar runs.
3 of 6. BYU COACHING
The Cougars kept Stanford off balance with an effective mix of attack strategies — using dribble penetration, myriad post-up variations, off-ball picks and cuts, and some well-timed 3-pointers. BYU coach Dave Rose vs. Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins may have been the biggest mismatch in the building, as the Cougars looked more confident and fluid in what they were doing than the Cardinal.
Rose’s bunch gave up a lot of points, but played stellar defense in spurts to stretch the lead and steal away confidence from their opponent. Still, BYU will not shoot 54 percent and make more than half of its 3-pointers every game, so it better not plan on giving up triple-digits and winning very often.
Offensive grade: A+
Defensive grade: C-
4 of 6. STANFORD OVERALL
There is no way to sugar-coat the defensive performance, however, as BYU had the home team reeling from start to finish. Stanford was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 by the media this season, and middle of the pack in that conference seems about right for this group. Small forward Anthony Brown was a disappointment on both ends of the floor.
If the team does not play with better focus and effort on defense, it would not be a surprise to hear rumblings about head coach Johnny Dawkins’ job security as the season goes along.
5 of 6. OFFICIATING
The new rules in the college game that make guarding even more difficult for defenders seemed to have an impact. For the second game in a row, BYU outplayed its opponent to a degree that took the game out of the officials’ hands, making them largely a non-factor.