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BYU basketball report card: Star guards devastate the Cardinal defense (6 items)

By Nate Gagon
For the Deseret News

Nov. 12, 2013

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

Kyle Collinsworth was phenomenal in the first half, with 12 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block — controlling play and setting the tone for the evening.

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.

Grade: A

2 of 6. BYU BIG MEN

The Cougar post players once again did what was needed to contribute to the victory. BYU fans couldn’t wait to see freshman Eric Mika in action this season, and he did not disappoint in his second game.

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.

Grade: B

3 of 6. BYU COACHING

As long as it wasn't at the foul line, the visiting team from Provo was hitting shots Monday night, and the coaching staff had a lot to do with that.

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

Point guard Chasson Randle and power forward Dwight Powell lived up to their billing offensively, combining for 61 points on 38 field goal attempts. The Cardinal certainly scored plenty of points against the Cougars — enough to win just about every time Stanford takes the court.

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.

Grade: C-

5 of 6. OFFICIATING

This was a wild and crazy game for the officials. There were 52 fouls called and 77 free throws attempted. The game was certainly called closely, with very little contact taking place without a whistle blowing.

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.

Grade: B
1. BleedingBlue
Provo, UT,
Nov. 12, 2013

Your grade of "D" for crowd is lacking in examination of who attended. There were over 2000 BYU fans, shouting B-Y-U, screaming loudly for every basket. I Give the BYU fans an A+ for showing up and turning a road game into a semi-quasi home game, or at a minimum a neutral court. GO Cougar Fans!

2. Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA,
Nov. 12, 2013

Good win for BYU, the score would have been much higher if BYU had done better on free throws. Stanford made a decent run at the end when BYU slowed the game down, but never really threatened BYU who lead almost the entire game. It didn't seem like BYU had a defensive answer to Stanford's center, but with the new rules high scoring games will be the norm and BYU's answer was on offense. BYU was very aggressive in getting to the basket, especially Carlino, and Stanford didn't seem able to set up quick enough in transition.

On TV the loudest part of the crowd was the "B-Y-U" we often heard in the background!

Go Cougars!

3. jebrink46
spokane, WA,
Nov. 12, 2013

I must likewise add that missing 15 free throws is unacceptable, especially considering who was missing them. Stanford was not overly big under the basket, but they garnered far to many offensive rebounds for far to many second-chance points. Finally, Carlino must be taught (forced?) to play team ball to the very end. And not much mention of what I thought was a good job by Worthington, whose name is usually only mentioned in reference to this past football prowess.
All that being said, it looks like it could be a fun and successful season.

4. poyman
Lincoln City, OR,
Nov. 13, 2013

Overall Nate, I give your article a B-... The Guard play was excellent and the coaching was very good... I also thought that the Bigs did well on the Boards (not a lot of 2nd chance points... I also agree with your assessment of Stanford's play and the atmosphere in Palo Alto...

Your grade of the Officiating however, was way off... 52 fouls and 80 free throw shots in a 4o minute game averages out to about 2 free throws a minute and equals BORING with a capital B... Had the shots not fallen this would have been one of the worst games to watch as a fan that I can remember (and I'm 61)... These Officials apparently didn't get the message that fans like to watch players play rather than Officials blowing whistles and marching back and forth between free throw lines...

If new rules encourage more whistle blowing and more foul shots then we need the old rules back... I have watched about 7 games so far this season however and I did not see the Refs in any of those games feel like they needed the spot light.

My grade for officiating was a solid D-.