Matt Carlino started last week sitting on the bench for most of the first half when BYU played at Pepperdine on Thursday.
Monday, the sophomore guard was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week. That's quite a turnaround.
Of course, Carlino hit several free throws and big shots -- including a three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining -- to lift the Cougars to a 63-61 win over the Waves on Thursday.
Then he played spectacularly on Saturday, for the entire game, as BYU downed Santa Clara 96-79 at the Marriott Center. He had a season-high 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting, and added six assists.
For the week, Carlino averaged 20 points, five assists, 2.5 steals and shot 46.4 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from three-point range and was perfect from the free-throw line.
"Matt is actually showing progress with the experience. That is really important," BYU coach Dave Rose said after Saturday's game. "I mean, it is a really a tough assignment to come in and be the starting point guard as a freshman in a program that has pretty high expectations. And he has been pretty successful. I think that he has handled it really well. He has handled the ups, he has handled the times when he hasn't played as effectively as he wanted to.
But right now he is in a nice little spot. And I think our guys have learned to actually play with him, and appreciate what he does. And he threw some passes tonight that were right on the money, [led] straight to a basket.
Besides the shots he made, I thought his floor game was terrific."
It's the fourth WCC PoW award for a BYU player this season. Tyler Haws has won it twice and Brandon Davies once.
Here's Davies on Carlino's play Saturday vs. Santa Clara:
"It definitely opens things up. Everbody was contributing today. You know, Matt caught fire and when guys are hitting shots, we are good at feeding their fire, and helping them keep things going. We are all unselfish guys. That's why we play so well together.
We are willing to give up shots for someone who is feeling it. And Matt did a good job of that tonight."
Carlino said the shootout was his kind of game, the kind of game in which he flourishes.
"Yeah, for sure," he said. " think our whole team is like that, when we are running it up and down like that. I think that helps all of us. I mean, [when you ask], what is the difference between the first half and the second half, like you guys are asking. There isn't really much difference [between halves], except that we are really well-conditioned, and we just keep doing our stuff. I think that that can wear on a team after a while."
Up next for the Cougars is another difficult road test, at San Diego on Thursday. The Toreros had No. 6 Gonzaga on the ropes Saturday, but some late-game heroics by David Stockton and a few misfires on offense by the homestanding Toreros helped the Zags avoid the upset.
You can read more about San Diego, and what the Cougars will see on Thursday, in this online-only piece in today's Tribune.
Both teams are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and coach Dave Rose pointed out Saturday in his postgame comments that it will be critical for BYU to establish its preferred pace.
"Well, I think that it is a comfort level for our guys," Rose said. "And when we play that way, I think the confidence spreads throughout the entire team, instead of to one or two or three guys. So I thought tonight that a lot of that was led by Matt [Carlino].
Matt not only got steals for points in transition, but he made a great pass to Ty [Haws] to start the game, and probably would have had a couple of more assists if we would have finished, because he made the play that should have led to a basket.
I think that it is confidence issue with our guys, when we can play fast."
I mentioned last week after watching the Cougars practice on Tuesday that they were doing a lot of conditioning work, running ladders and the like. It appeared that Santa Clara wore down a bit in the second half Saturday, while the Cougars continued to run and push the pace.
"I think at this time of year, games are getting slower and slower," Rose said. "I mean, you look at the scores, and it is possession by possession.
There are a few teams who really race that thing up and down the floor, but I think it has to do with the time of the year.
I mean, our travel has been pretty tough for the last three weeks or so. We played one at home and one on the road, and there are other teams that have been staying at home for two games, and then they go out for two games.
We will probably experience a little bit more of that next year. But we will see how that works. I think everybody is dealing with it. Everybody is going back and forth.
They played a great game on [Thursday] night and then had to come out here and play us. You just look at the things you can control now, and the schedule, you are not controlling that. You just kinda deal with it."
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