BYU basketball: Cougars make believers out of visiting San Francisco
Provo • A two-time All-Big Eight selection at Kansas in the early 1990s, San Francisco coach Rex Walters has seen some pretty good basketball, and some phenomenal shooting displays, over the course of his college basketball career.
He saw another outstanding performance Saturday, but it didn't come from his slumping Dons.
Shooting 54 percent from the field and 63 percent from 3-point range, BYU had an easier-than-expected time with USF in front of 14,823 at the Marriott Center, pounding the visitors 81-56 to stay within a game of league-leading St. Mary's and Gonzaga.
The Cougars' most impressive statistic, however, was that they assisted on all but two of their made baskets 27 of 29, including a perfect 16 of 16 in the first half.
Oddly, one of those non-assisted baskets center Nate Austin's putback dunk at the final buzzer, made the students most happy because everyone in attendance gets free yogurt when the Cougars score 80 or more points.
"That's pretty good," BYU coach Dave Rose said, presumably referring to the assist ratio, not the Yogurtland promotion.
Also good is 8-for-8 shooting from the field, including 6-for-6 on 3-pointers, which describes the night BYU junior Brock Zylstra had. His six straight three-pointers in a single game tied a school record.
"It gives you confidence when you see shot after shot go in," said Zylstra, after taking just one shot and not scoring in 29 minutes Thursday in the 73-65 victory over Loyola Marymount.
Confidence is something the Dons know little about lately, Walters said, after joking that he called several late timeouts to stop the clock in the blowout because "I wanted to piss off all the people in the state of Utah."
Seriously, he said he wanted the opportunity to coach his seldom-used players and set up plays; indirectly, he caused the rush on the yogurt stands, because BYU kept attacking offensively, even when the shot clock was turned off in the last 30 seconds.
But the game was really decided in the first half, when the Dons stopped scoring for more than eight minutes and went without a field goal for more than 10 minutes. A 14-0 run essentially lifted the Cougars to a 3-1 record in the West Coast Conference, 14-4 overall, and dropped USF to 0-3 and 10-7.
"We are not a good team right now," Walters said, describing his team as "a bunch of front-runners and pretenders."
Whether BYU is a contender for the WCC crown is still in question, but on this night, it left little doubt that it is going to be difficult to beat in the Marriott Center.
"We take a lot of pride this is our home court," said Brandon Davies, who collected 12 points, six assists and six rebounds in just 22 minutes. "We got to protect it night after night. â¦ We don't lose very often at home, and it is up to us. We have a great fan base, we have a great crowd every night, and that helps, too."
BYU 81, San Francisco 56
R In Short • Another bottom-tier team in the West Coast Conference, another easy win at home for BYU as the Cougars pound San Francisco.
Key Moment • The Dons go through an 8-plus-minute scoring drought in the first half.
Key Stat • The Cougars make 12 of 19 3-pointers.