Notes and quotes from BYU's 89-82 loss at Pacific
In case you missed it, here's my report from BYU's bubble-bursting 89-82 loss at Pacific on Thursday night.
Yup, the Cougars (9-5 WCC, 17-10) are going to be dropped from every NCAA Tournament bracket out there after this loss, and deservedly so. Simply, NCAA Tourney-worthy teams win these sort of games; NIT-type teams don't.
Pacific had won just four other league games before Thursday's win in front of 4,058 fans at Spanos Center, the dumpiest arena in the league. The place opened in 1981; It seems like it is 50-years-old, not 33. The second-largest arena in the WCC (cap: 6,150) is easily the grimiest and most poorly lit. Locker room facilities were abysmal. The Marriott Center is 10 years older, but 10 times cleaner.
A lot has been made in Provo of the small gymnasiums and arenas around the WCC, but they are all generally clean, bright, attractive venues. Not so at Pacific.
But I digress.
Coach Dave Rose's BYU team was outclassed on the floor by a team that shot 51.8 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the 3-point line. The Tigers (5-8, 14-10) were 7 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half and 62.5 percent from the field in the second half. As Rose said, Pacific was the better team on Thursday night.
Simply, BYU is a different team on the road than it is in the Marriott Center. The Cougars waxed UP 88-78 in Provo two weeks ago, leading by as many as 23 points in the second half.
The biggest difference between the road Cougars and the home Cougars is their 3-point percentage defense.
The Cougars' 3-point percentage defense on the road in the WCC is 49 percent (69 of 142). At home, it is a respectable 31 percent (41 of 131).
"We just got to find a way to win on the road," said BYU's Tyler Haws, who fouled out against Pacific for the first time in his college career. "This taste in our mouths is awful. I still have a lot of confidence in everyone in that locker room. Everyone still believes, and there is no time to hang our heads."
See below for more comments by the Cougars about their home-road difference.
The Cougars jumped ahead 9-0, but then became plagued by foul problems. Pacific roared back to take a 14-11 lead, and it was a dogfight from there. That's another BYU bugaboo on the road; Its big guys such as Eric Mika and Nate Austin can't stay out of foul trouble away from the Marriott Center.
Mika averages 2.4 fouls at home, 4.0 on the road in WCC games. Junior forward Nate Austin averages 2.6 fouls per game at home and 4.4 whistles on the road.
"I think that .. the way that Pacific plays, it is a pretty physical game," Rose said when I asked him about the foul trouble that plagued BYU Thursday night. "I thought we were up to the task. I thought our effort was really good. I think playing through contact is an issue for us, at times. I think the guys need to be more aggressive. Like we've said before, we need to be more aggressive, but cut down on fouls. We will try to figure that out somehow."
That propensity for foul trouble does not bode well for the Cougars on Saturday night at Saint Mary's, which has the best low-post scorer in the league, Brad Waldow.