Looking at scores alone, it appears that this BYU basketball team has yet to play a close game. All five of the Cougars' wins have been by 12 points or more; both their losses were by double-digits.
You could make a case, though, that the 78-68 loss to Notre Dame was closer than the final score indicated, and the 87-75 win over Cal State Northridge was tighter than it appears.
That said, 5-2 BYU's schedule gets considerably tougher now, starting with Saturday's game at the Big 12's Iowa State. The Cyclones are 4-2 after winning their first four games (all at home against weaker opponents) and losing to No. 22 Cincinnati (78-70) and No. 18 UNLV (82-70) at a tournament in Las Vegas last weekend.
"We are ready to go. It is going to be a real challenge," BYU coach Dave Rose said of the Iowa State game after Wednesday night's 85-60 win over Montana. "They just got beat twice over the weekend by two really good teams. So it is going to be a battle. But we're ready."
After Saturday, BYU plays three straight instate opponents: Utah State, Utah and Weber State.
Senior Brandon Davies had a monster game last night, stuffing the stat sheet in every category but fouls, and was the focus of my game story, which you can find here.
Sophomore wing Tyler Haws was also stellar again, as Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe points out in this column about Haws' smooth re-entry to college basketball after a church mission.
If that's not enough reading for you on last night's game, here's a full transcript of coach Dave Rose's postgame comments:
His overall assessment of how the Cougars played:
"I thought we played well. I was really pleased with the start of the game. I thought defensively we got off to a great start and challenged every shot early.
Then offensively we got open shots and hit them, so we got off to a nice lead. We shot the ball well, rebounded the ball well. I thought our defense improved and we got better.
I would like us to shoot free throws a little bit better. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good game."
On Brandon Davies staying out of foul trouble:
"He's goes into halftime with no fouls and he played 19 minutes. So I think he made progress in a lot of areas.
We played nine guys no a lot of minutes. But we tried to get nine guys in double-digit minutes. We got seven guys in double-digit minutes. A couple guys with seven.
We are trying to grow with experience. But it was a tough team [we played]. They are very physical in how they defend, very physical in just their concepts. It is hard to get the ball in the post, because they contest everything. I thought we got stronger as the game went on, which is a good sign when you play a team like that."
On what he told Davies about staying out of foul trouble:
"It is pretty simple. When you get yourself in a situation where you know it is going to be difficult -- maybe you are a little bit late. Maybe you got tricked, you got fooled -- instead of trying to make a spectacular play, and fix it, sometimes you just got to let it go. And that's a learning process. Especially with are team right now, last year we had some other options. Noah [Hartsock] we could slide down there, Noah was really good, early.
We are trying to grow some guys, so we need to keep him on the floor as much as we can."
On whether there's a line between aggressiveness and staying out of foul trouble:
"Yeah, every player has to find it. Every player has to find it according to their role on the team, and what the team needs. And with Brandon, we need Brandon on the floor."
On why Nate Austin only played two minutes:
"Nate has got several issues. He's got an ankle, he's got an elbow, he's got a shoulder causing him trouble. Just little things are nagging him and keeping him out of practice. Hopefully we can get him back to full strength here soon."
On Montana's Mathias Ward getting into foul trouble:
"That was a surprise to me, when he picked up his fourth foul in the first half. That doesn't happen very often. Like I said, this was a physical team. They challenge every post entry. I was proud of how our guys battled."
On forcing 11 turnovers in the first half:
"I thought our coaches did a great job with the game plan. Our engery level early was as good on the defensive end as it has been on the offensive end through a couple of starts that we have had. I thought that was good to see."
On whether this was the progress he wanted to see after returning from New York:
"We won three games, so that's what we are looking for. I think our guys are starting to feel a lot more comfortable out there. It is interesting that ou try to find the core of your team, and what that's going to be. I think we are moving more towards that, trying to find more roles deeper down the roster. It is all a process. I hope by January we got it figured out."
On offensive rebounding in second half:
"Well, we challenged them at halftime. It is something we do really well, and I think it was probably high on their priority list to limit us on second-chance points. We missed nine shots in the first half, and didn't have one offensive rebound.
It was good to see the first possession. Brandon goes in and takes a shot and misses a shot, and Josh is right on top of the rim with a follow. And we just kind of carried it over from there."
On Brandon Davies' passing out of the post:
"He had five assists and no turnovers at halftime. We wanted the ball in his hands. He made really good decisions with the ball. If it wasn't for him struggling at the line, I think he would have had one of his best games."
On playing on Jazz''s home floor and winning again here:
"This place has been good to us. I think we have another one here in a month or so. Hopefully we can play just as well."
On making 9 of 21 threes:
"Especially to start the game. We got a couple of guys coming off the bench, hitting threes. I think those are possessions that can really sting another team. You get a guy coming off the bench, and they know he can shoot. You know, Matty [Carlino] hit another big three tonight for us. So, the confidence of those guys coming together can really help us."
That's going to be it from me for a couple of days as I take a little bit of time off before picking up next week with coverage of Wednesday night's Utah State-at-BYU basketball game. As always, I appreciate your readership.
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