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BYU basketball: Talent beats experience as Cougars edge LMU in WCC quarterfinals

First Published      Last Updated Mar 04 2017 06:33 pm

Stats guru Ken Pomeroy ranks the experience of every college basketball team in the country. Saturday, his website showed BYU as the 333rd team in the country in terms of experience. Loyola Marymount is No. 24.

After all, BYU starts three sophomores and two freshmen and has no seniors that are able to play. LMU starts three seniors and plays five.

The Cougars were eight-point favorites according to Las Vegas oddsmakers, perhaps because they swept the Lions in the regular season. Using that talent advantage to overcome its youth and inexperience, BYU took an 89-81 win in a tough, physical game in which LMU aggressively defended everything the Cougars tried to do.




"A lot of that is just their style," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "I mean, it is a team that plays a lot of players. They pick you up full court, half court, three-quarter court. .. They contest passes, every catch, every rebound, every shot, and they usually use a lot of fouls in the game.

I think our guys were prepared for that, and did a good job early, and then it got pretty physical in the middle of the game.

I think they were pretty successful at it. We got a 13, 14 point lead, and during that run they actually took the ball from us three or four times.

It is a long game, and you gotta be able to deal with the runs in the game," Rose continued. "I thought how we dealt with their pressure overall for 40 minutes was pretty good. There were some times in there when they got us, and some times where their attacking style led to some pretty easy baskets for us, too.

Overall, I fought we handled it pretty well."

Two hours after the game ended, tournament officials still had not produced a box score, due to computer problems.

Eric Mika led BYU with 25 points, while Nick Emery added 21 and went over the 1,000-point plateau for his career.

The Cougars got just one point from their bench, a free throw by Davin Guinn, but the reserves contributed in other ways, mostly defensively, and held serve while Mika, Emery, TJ Haws and Elijah Bryant were on the bench in foul trouble.

"I think they kinda led into scoring for us," Rose said of the subs. "It is a group of guys who I don't think we are going to see them automatically score. … It is a real cohesive group and kind of a different group every time we go through. We usually go three deep for sure off the bench. Tonight I think we went four or five. But they understand that when they get in there they have to be really productive early in order to continue to help us."

LMU coach Mike Dunlap was classy in defeat, praising BYU for its resiliency when the Lions roared back with an 11-0 run and seemingly had all the momentum.

"We hope BYU can go as far as they can because they are a class outfit," Dunlap said. "I have known their coach for over two decades, and he runs a really good show. But just as I told our guys, 'we couldn't have played harder or had better pushback. That was indicative of the entire year."

 

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