The Cougars bounced back nicely here in beautiful Malibu, Calif, on Saturday night, whipping Pepperdine 77-64 after suffering that humilating loss to Loyola Marymount in Provo on Thursday.
The story of the game was Brandon Davies, who made 15 of 18 free throw attempts and finished with a career-high 29 points. His previous high was 28 at St. Mary's a few weeks ago.
Noah Hartsock added 20 points and surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Hartsock now has 1,003 points, the 43rd Cougar in the school's 1,000-point club.
In typical Hartsock fashion, he joked that it only took him four years to do what Jimmer Fredette did in one (Fredette had 1,068 points last season).
Charles Abouo also had a nice game, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the first half when the Cougars were listing and needed some offense.
The other two starters struggled; Brock Zylstra was 1-for-6 for five points, but did grab seven rebounds.
Matt Carlino played only 20 minutes and did not score for the first time in his career. He missed all four shots he took.
Rose said it took some time (Pepperdine led 11-2 early), but the Cougars re-discovered their swagger about midway through the first half.
"We got shots that we wanted. Sometimes as a coach you are kind of disappointed with your shot selection. But we got the shots we wanted. We didn't make them, and they were really aggressive and hit some big shots.
Our guys were ready to play. Pepperdine just came out with a real aggressive mindset, and we kind of thought they might try to control the tempo with their offense, but they were on full-out attack. They got a nice lead, but our guys responded," Rose said.
A few more comments from the coach:
On the technical foul called on Brandon Davies just 23 seconds into the game:
"Brandon looked at the guy and kind of intimidated him. [The referee] didn't want to start that way, and so, it was kind of a quick call."
On the battle to keep the pace they wanted:
"There were a lot of fouls called. It was really physical. We knew as a staff that this would have to be a grind-it-out game for us. We learned from the other night [when we] just kept firing up threes and didn't make them. ... Four games in eight days, and you are traveling back and forth and going to college, that's a tough stretch. And we will get back to [shooting] better. "
On Brandon Davies' game:
"He has improved his whole game. I think his patience in the post, tonight he showed multiple moves, but they were all at the right speeds. Very seldom did he get himself into a spot where he was in a hurry. ... Brandon really kind of got Noah involved tonight, with a couple double-team passes out of the double team where Noah could get two or three really clean looks at the basket."
On bouncing back after the LMU loss:
"The most important thing is just to compete. There's a competiive spirit about our group every possession, whether we score or not. I think we got discouraged the other night because we had so many possessions where we came up empty. It was interesting because I thought it was really apparent early in the game when we missed a couple shots, and they made shots, and we stayed aggressive.
They made some really tough shots early in the game and got us in a spot where we had to respond."
On the defensive performance:
"I think tonight we were good. I don't think we were great. I think we can really get better as a team. I think that's some improvement we can make.
Our zone has become really effective shutting down shooters on the perimeter, but our spacing in the middle of that zone [was bad], and they exploited that tonight. [Moore] got some shots in the middle of our zone.
On why he played Craig Cusick more in the second half than Matt Carlino:
"Defensively, I thought he was matching up really well defensively. You saw him, he came up with three or four 50-50 balls. He was really engaged, and we needed his toughness."