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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

BYU basketball report card: Cougs start and finish hot to get revenge on Pepperdine (5 items)

Jan. 10, 2014

BYU went on a 12-0 run in just under four minutes, led by Tyler Haws, to start its game Thursday against Pepperdine. The Cougars finished the game on a 22-12 run the final five minutes, led by Haws. During the 31 minutes in between, Pepperdine largely outplayed BYU. Those two big runs proved to be enough, however, as the Cougars pulled away for an 84-72 win, avenging their disappointing loss to the Waves 10 days ago.

Playing without injured big man Eric Mika, the guard trio of Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Skyler Halford combined to take 83 percent of BYU’s shots from the field and score 68 of the Cougars’ 84 points. No question BYU was going to sink or swim with its backcourt Thursday night at the Marriott Center as coach Dave Rose distributed 72 percent of his 200 available minutes to his backcourt.

The bottom line is that the Cougars were less than impressive for 75 percent of the game but did enough to pull off a win they absolutely had to have. They didn’t necessarily build on the momentum generated by their blowout of San Diego, but they did enough not to lose it by playing good defense in spurts and knocking down shots in key stretches.

Here are the grades for each BYU position group and other aspects of the game.

Nate Gagon is a published sports, music and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free-throw line and can be reached at: nategagon@hotmail.com or @nategagon.

1 of 5. BYU GUARDS

Collinsworth was the MVP of the game, nearly pulling off a triple double. He finished with 15 points and led the team in rebounds (10), assists (nine) and steals (three). He had only a pair of turnovers, one of which came on the first play of the game. Now if he could just find a free-throw coach.

Halford pressed on in his newfound leadership role, taking more shots than any player not named Haws. He made half his shots for 18 points and pulled down six rebounds. He did have three turnovers to only one assist.

Haws played pretty much as he has all season. He was money from the foul line (9-of-9), occasionally caught fire from the field (11-of-23 with both very hot and very cold stretches), and didn’t do much else. He finished below his season average in assists, which is only possible if he doesn’t get a single one. He also only had one rebound in 33 minutes. Haws’ role on this team? Get open and shoot, and he caught fire at the right times Thursday.

Matt Carlino came off the bench for the second straight game, playing 22 minutes. He was effective in those minutes, scoring 10 points, dishing six assists and grabbing three rebounds.

Frank Bartley IV continues to slide back down the bench after playing a prominent role earlier in the season. He played only two minutes — five times less than Luke Worthington. Who saw that coming? Anson Winder, on the other hand, saw his minutes jump to 20 — five times more than he played versus Pepperdine 10 days ago.

Virtually all the pressure was put on BYU’s guards in this game, and they came through with a 12-point win over a team they just lost to. From that perspective, it was a job well done.

Grade: B

2 of 5. BYU BIG MEN

Not only did Nate Austin not foul out, he played an important 30 minutes for the Cougars. He scored an efficient six points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two Pepperdine shots.

Josh Sharp played the second-most minutes of any non-guard on the team. Who saw that coming earlier this season? In his 16 minutes he did not attempt a shot. Worthington tied his season high with 11 minutes off the bench. All told, the Sharp/Worthington combo tallied five fouls, three turnovers, zero blocks, zero steals, one assist, six rebounds and zero points in 27 minutes.

Are there any questions about why BYU’s guards took 95 percent of the shots in the game?

Grade: D+

3 of 5. BYU COACHING

Rose endured his worst stretch as BYU’s head coach from Dec. 14 (embarrassing loss to Utah) through Dec. 30 (loss to Pepperdine). In 2014, his Cougars have rebounded, however, with two straight wins.

Playing San Diego and Pepperdine at home certainly helps, but given where BYU was just a week and a half ago, it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.

Checking the WCC scoreboard right now has to give the Cougars even more hope, as Saint Mary’s lost to Santa Clara at home and Gonzaga lost to Portland. The Cougs are still in the WCC race.

Credit Rose for mixing things up with his lineups and pulling heart and effort out of his guys.

Grade: B

4 of 5. PEPPERDINE OVERALL

Against these same Cougars 10 days ago, Pepperdine made 13-of-24 3-pointers. Thursday night at the Marriott Center, the Waves made just 7-of-23. Sometimes it really does just come down to making or missing shots.

The Waves actually shot seven more free throws this game and made eight more. They actually turned the ball over five less times as well. They allowed BYU one less offensive rebound than last game and had twice as many steals.

On the other hand, the Cougars outrebounded the Waves overall Thursday night by 13 and only had one shot blocked, as opposed to nine blocked shots on the road versus Pepperdine. These numbers are quite strange considering BYU was without its top post player this time.

Ultimately, the real difference between last game and this game, however, was the 3-point line. At Pepperdine, BYU was 1-of-11 from long distance. In Provo, BYU was 7-of-17. On the other side, the Waves went from hitting 54 percent from behind the arc to just 30 percent at the Marriott Center.

No doubt Pepperdine missed guard Malcolm Brooks in Provo, who was out with a sprained ankle. At home 10 days ago versus BYU, Brooks made 6-of-9 long balls and put up 24 points.

BYU caught a break Thursday with Brooks not playing. Even without him, the Waves stayed close and outplayed the Cougars a majority of the game.

Grade: B-

5 of 5. Crowd

With an announced attendance of more than 14,000 versus Pepperdine, the Cougar faithful continued to support their team. By way of comparison, when the Pac-12 Utah Utes played then-undefeated and top-10 Oregon a week ago at the Huntsman Center, they had an announced attendance of 13,426.

The home crowd Thursday night at the Marriott Center had a lot to be excited about for 10 minutes of great BYU basketball and a lot of time to hit the concession stands and make new friends in between.

In the end, everybody left happy.

Grade: A-

1. red.diehard
Central, UT,
Jan. 10, 2014

Wow, a WCC conference game that is a home game for BYU and the author mentions the Running Utes multiple times, what's up with that?

2. FYI
Taylorsville, UT,
Jan. 10, 2014

Good analysis of the game last night. However, while I may understand the need to mention Utah in the "Coaching" portion of the article, I'm not sure sure why the need to mention them in the "Crowd" portion. It seems like just a petty jab at the Utah fan base. While it is true there were more fans at this game (14,000+) than Utah had at their game against Oregon (13,426), the Marriott Center was still only at 69%, while the Huntsman Center was at 90%.

3. Y Grad / Y Dad
Richland, WA,
Jan. 10, 2014

Hey, that's 4 times as many as were attending Utah games just two years ago.

Chill out, kids. Comparisons aren't always intended as a jab, and if this one was, it was poorly aimed. Utah basketball is moving in the right direction. Enjoy it!

4. rlsintx
Plano, TX,
Jan. 10, 2014

My advice to BYU and Utah fans is the same I gave divorced couples; other than being polite when you meet, forget about each other and move on in your own respective lives.