Amazing, what making a couple early shots -- especially early 3-pointers -- can do for a team.
The Cougars did that Saturday in front of 19,008 fans at the Marriott Center -- drilling four of their first five 3-point attempts -- and pasted Pepperdine 86-48 to improve to 21-6 on the season.
The team that had made just 17 of 101 3-pointers was 6-for-13 from long range in the first half, before the game got out of hand. They finished 12-for-32, which isn't all that great, but considering where they've been, nobody in the postgame interview room was complaining.
Actually, coach Dave Rose's only complaint was that the Cougars took too many 3-pointers.
Here's his postgame reply when asked about the improved shooting:
"I think our guys, they spent a lot of time on it," he said. "Maybe we had a little bit of extra time, as far as not having a game on Thursday, and so their legs were a little bit more fresh. Whatever the reason is, it is how we play and what we do, and these guys are really good at it. It is just a matter of them believing in themselves and then I think the pace of the game is really important to the confidence level we have with these shots.
We shot [3-pointers] probably more than we should have tonight, because you don't want to have half your shots be 3-point shots. But the way they were playing our post, and [the fact] that Noah and Brandon had such big games [at Pepperdine], they really concentrated on trying to get the ball out of their hands.
And if it is going to get out of their hands, and get to an open shooter, we would rather have a guy shoot a three than a long two. So I think that the couple that Anson hit and Charles hit earlier were really big, because it let everybody breathe a little bit."
Couple quick-hitters from the game:
* Noah Hartsock had three blocked shots, moving into third place on the school's career blocks list with 167. He passed Russell Larson, who had 166.
* Charles Abouo had 23 points, flirting with his career high (25, vs. Wyoming last year at home) and pulled down 12 rebounds.
* Perhaps the most astounding stat of the game is that neither Abouo nor Brandon Davies picked up a foul. Each played 27 minutes. Matt Carlino also didn't commit a foul, after Abouo and Carlino (and Noah Hartsock) were in early foul trouble last week at Portland.
* The 38-point margin of victory was BYU's largest this season.
* Carlino also had six assists and three steals, tying a career-high in steals.
* Davies scored 13 points and was in double figures for the 15th-straight game.
More postgame comments from Rose (video will be posted later):
I am really happy for our guys. I think our players have worked really hard, especially this last week where we had a bye on Thursday, and we practiced well. We had a lot of guys come in and put in a lot of extra time, and it paid off. They played well.
Not only individually did we play well, but we played well as a team. I thought that the pace of the game from the very start was how we wanted to play, and we continued to get energy as we scored the ball and got stops. Then we were able to manage the game as far as possession-by-possession where we were trying to execute every possession in a game where there was some separation in the score, but we were still executing at a really high rate.
So we will get ready for a big road test next week."
On whether they can get better and improve in a game like that:
"Oh, absolutely. There are a lot of things in that game that we were trying to work on, and do consistently over the course of a game. I thought tonight that we made some real steps forward as far as getting some combinations in our lineup. I think that Charles [Abouo] played at a [better pace]. He wasn't in foul trouble, and so he had a chance to play multiple minutes, back-to-back minutes.
His time has kind of been chopped up the last three, four weeks, and I think it has kind of hurt the flow of his game. Tonight, to be able to leave him out there for big chunks of a time, I thought really helped us."
On how big it was that the first 3-pointer went in:
"I think it is really big. We talked about it as a coaching staff. We really felt like tonight that we should shoot the ball well. We felt that the way things had set up was good, the fact that we had time during the week to work on it individually. Then we shot the ball pretty well in practice, and expected the guys to shoot well.
We did kinda look around and say, 'who is going to be the guys that will get this thing started, so that everybody can get rolling.'"
On Brock Zylstra's availability:
"He wanted to play, and the trainer, Rob, thought that it would be better if he didn't play, as far as his ability to help us next week. We wanted to see how the game would go. Brock's a competitor, tough guy. He doesn't like being hurt, and wants to get back as soon as he can. And I am glad we were able to rest him today, give him a couple more days, and hopefully have him next week."
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