The 15,000 or so fans (announced attendance) who entered the Marriott Center on Wednesday night expected a blowout, and a blowout is what they got.
The Cougars routed Prairie View A&M 100-52 in Provo, leading by as many as 54 points to improve to 8-3 heading into Saturday’s showdown at much-improved Utah (8-1).
"It was a terrible game from our standpoint," said PVAMU coach Byron Rimm II. "BYU shot the heck out of the ball. We went out with our hands down. We didn’t do a good job of containing. We didn’t talk on defense. We were shell-shocked the whole game, and it showed. We have a lot of work to do to play at the level of BYU. They did a good job. They’re a great basketball team."
After losing 105-96 to UMass on Saturday, the Cougars have emphasized defense in practice the last few days, and it showed Wednesday night. The visitors were held to 29 percent shooting, and were just 4 of 27 from 3-point range.
"I thought that our players came out with a real focus tonight and the way we played defensively I thought was a real improvement from the other night," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "The most encouraging thing is it has come from the guys, it has come from within. They know what we need to do as a team to become a better team.
I thought we really improved tonight. There were a few possessions where we lost a guy in transition, and a couple of possessions where they got an offensive rebound, but for the most part I thought they had to make tough shots.
If you take away the easy baskets from the other team, when you look at film when the game is over, if you can eliminate the easy ones, it makes it really tough to try and win.
Offensively, we shared the ball really well. Twenty-seven assists is a really good number for us, for our team.
Those games can go a lot of different ways sometimes. Tonight, I thought we had 40 minutes of pretty good execution on both ends of the floor. So that’s a good sign, coming off of a tough game on Saturday.
We look forward to Saturday’s game at Utah."
There were a few scary moments for the Cougars. Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino both left the game in the first half after getting dinged up, but both returned. Nate Austin took a hard shot in the second half.
"It was a game where there were a lot of 50-50 balls, and guys were going after them," Rose said. "That is a real physical team. I think our guys do a pretty good job of competing. Tonight, we competed together really well as a group."
Rose said Haws "took a pretty good lick, but he feels OK. We will see how he feels in the morning, but we are optimistic that he will be all right."
Haws only played six minutes in the second half, and did not score, going 0-for-2 in those limited minutes. Of course, he scored 19 points in the first half, starting the game 5-for-5 from the field. Obviously, that lower abdominal strain that kept him out of two games earlier this season is not a factor any more.
"I think he spends a lot of time, still, trying to strengthen that area in stretching and things. But as far as pain, I think he is pretty much over that," Rose said.
Haws saw his streak of consecutive free throws made snapped at 30, missing his first freebie of the game. That was the fifth-longest streak in school history.
Haws also passed Trent Plaisted on BYU’s all-time scoring list, and now is in 20th place. He’s just two points behind Andy Toolson for 19th.
Matt Carlino had an interesting stat line, as the junior looked to be more of a distributor in this game, especially in the first half. He finished with seven points, seven assists, four steals and six turnovers. Carlino is now 10th on BYU’s career assists list, having passed Fred Roberts on Wednesday night.
Kyle Collinsworth scored 19 points to tie Haws for game-high honors, a career-high for Collinsworth. He also had six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Rose said the defensive effort was better because they played together and stuck to the defensive game plan.
"I think that a lot of times, when you travel and you deal with all the things that are a little bit new, or a little bit uncomfortable for you, you get distracted," he said. "The main thing is just a feel you get when all five of your guys are executing your defensive plan on a majority of your defensive possessions.
I think that tonight we were really good at that.
The other night, for whatever reason, we had a lot of possessions where we were individually trying to stop the guy, or our rotations were a little bit slow. We had three guys really engaged and a couple of guys a little bit late. Tonight we were a lot better."
Aside from the defensive improvement, Rose liked how the Cougars shared the ball against the Panthers. They had assists on 27 of their 35 buckets.
"Well, I think offensively we have been pretty consistent," Rose said. "There are games, the way teams play us, where you will see a lot of dribble penetration. Tonight, they packed that thing in pretty good, so the perimeter was really open.
I think it is more about how that ball gets moved is determined by the opponent, and what is available, and what their game plan is against us. I thought tonight our guys responded to the game plan really well. We got a lot of guys involved early and we had a lot of guys play well late. I thought for a game like this the guys really stayed together and we competed really well."
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