Provo • The Cougars and their fans can calm down, loosen up and chill out a little bit, BYU basketball coach Dave Rose said.
The team that couldn’t shoot straight from 3-point range finally did on Saturday afternoon, at least in the first half, and that was more than enough marksmanship needed to rout overmatched Pepperdine 86-48 in a West Coast Conference game in front of 19,008 relaxed onlookers at the Marriott Center.
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"I think that the couple [3-pointers] that Anson [Winder] hit and Charles [Abouo] hit early were really big, because it let everybody breathe a little bit," Rose said.
The drought is over.
At least the Cougars (21-6, 9-3 WCC) hope so, after having entered the game shooting a miserable 17-for-101 from 3-point range in their last six games. They finished 12-for-32 from beyond the arc, which isn’t bad considering they were 6-for-13 at halftime when the score was 46-25 and the contest was still a little bit competitive and the starters weren’t on the bench contemplating their Saturday night plans.
"It felt good tonight to come out and have a good start," said Charles Abouo, the catalyst in the 3-point resurgence by going 5-for-8 from there. "We came out with a lot of energy and the guys did a great job of getting stops and some easy baskets."
Happy days were here again at the Marriott because of the improved shooting as the Cougars embark on a three-game road swing that won’t be easy, but in reality this was one of those games Cougar fans feared when they moved out of the Mountain West and into the WCC: a laugher.
Pepperdine (8-17, 2-12 WCC) missed its first three shots, then had its next two shots blocked, all on the same opening possession. The Waves were competitive in Malibu in losing just 77-64 to the Cougars but didn’t come close this time. BYU led by as many as 46 points in the second half, and Pepperdine shot 33.3 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from 3-point range.
"It was tough," said Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson, the former Utah assistant. "They shot the ball well, and that is something that they haven’t been doing recently. ... The crowd got into it. and it was hard to stop the bleeding after that."
Abouo finished with a double-double, 23 points and 12 rebounds, in his second-to-last game ever at the MC — unless the Cougars are relegated to the NIT, of course -- and Brandon Davies (13), Matt Carlino (10) and Anson Winder (10) reached double figures in limited minutes, due to the lopsided nature of the contest.
It was the first time a Pepperdine opponent has scored more than 79 points this season, and it could have been 100.
"When you are in a good rhythm, you are able to make shots," said BYU freshman Damarcus Harrison, who played a career-high 20 minutes (in a Division I game) and hit a big 3-pointer in the first half when the Cougars were scoring easily on virtually every possession. "Everyone came out and shot with confidence and we were able to make some good shots."
Harrison played more because Brock Zylstra sat out with an ankle injury. Rose said Zylstra wanted to play, but the team trainer advised against it and the plan was to hold him out until he was needed.
Alas, he never was.
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