More from BYU's historic 78-72 NCAA Tourney win over Iona
My first thought after the Cougars came from 25 points behind to beat Iona 78-72 here in Dayton in an NCAA Tournament First Four game: BYU coach Dave Rose just earned every penny of that hefty pay raise he received last spring. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies, Damarcus Harrison and Brock Zylstra made the big shots in that wild second half (BYU actually scored more points in the first half, oddly enough), but Rose made all the right adjustments from the bench to help the Cougars pull off the biggest comeback in NCAA Tourney history. As the Tribune's Kyle Goon, a Maryland grad, noted in a tweet after the game, the record was held by Duke in a 22-point comeback against the Terps. Here's Rose's thoughts on why the Cougars were able to battle back tonight after not being able to 10 days ago against Gonzaga. "I thought the pace of the game early was really fast. And the challenge for us would be to fight through that and find a second wind where we could keep that pace the entire game. And that was what I think was a big difference for us," he said. "And one of the reasons I'm so proud of these players is it wasn't like we just went on a 7â', 8â', 9â'possession run where we just made shot after shot after shot. We had a lot of disappointing offensive possessions that we still had to react to positively on the defensive end. And that shows some real character from the guys. And I think that [Iona was] maybe a step slower in the second half for whatever reason, which helped us. But a huge key for us was to try to control their penetration, because when they got inside of our zone, they just kind of torched us. And I think we did a better job in the second half of not letting them in the seams of our zone."
Having witnessed that first half, the Gaels seemed so superior to BYU in the speed and quickness department that it reminded me of a No. 1 seed vs. a No. 16 seed game. It was that bad. Somehow, Rose pushed all the right buttons to give his guys a chance to compete. Go here to read what the Cougars and Rose had to say about the win in the postgame news conference. Brock Zylstra and Noah Hartsock joined Rose on podium. Right after the game, while reporters were hurrying to pound out sentences on deadline, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe ran over to press row and hollered, "Just wanted to give you guys something to write about." Don't think I've ever seen Holmoe that excited. Crazy stuff. Charles Abouo did not have one of his better games as a Cougar he was benched in the second half in favor of freshman Damarcus Harrison but he reached a rather noteworthy milestone on Tuesday night. Abouo has now played in more wins 113 than any player in BYU history. He entered the game tied at 112 with Jimmer Fredette, and it looked for a while there that he would finish his career in a tie, but the Cougars pulled it out. I watched Abouo pretty closely during some timeouts in the second half, and although he wasn't playing, he was still engaged in the game cheering on teammates, coaching them up a little bit, and offering encouragement. And when he did get in later in the game, his defense out front in the BYU zone was excellent. It's 2:30 a.m. here in Dayton, and I've got a two-and-a-half hour drive to Louisville staring at me in the morning, so that's all for now.
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