Provo • Three-point shots went down, the offense flowed freely and points were more evenly distributed on Saturday afternoon at the Marriott Center as BYU completed a three-win week and won its fourth-straight game.
It helped that the Cougars were playing one of the worst teams in Division I college basketball.
Yoeli Childs posted his fifth-straight double-double and TJ Haws added a game-high 19 points as BYU routed Alabama A&M of the Southwest Athletic Conference 91-60 in front of an announced crowd of 12,206.
“It was good to see our guys really get in a rhythm offensively,” said BYU coach Dave Rose, who reached 500 career wins as a head college basketball coach.. “I think that is the best we have executed and finished, and for the longest periods of time, as far as the season is concerned.”
If it wasn’t, it would have been troubling, considered the quality of opposition.
Evan Wiley had 18 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs (0-4), the third-worst team in the country, ranking 351 out of 353 in the KenPom.com rankings.
The schedule gets significantly more difficult next week as BYU (4-1) hosts Rice on Wednesday and Houston on Saturday.
“Great week for us this week,” Rose said. “Next week we don’t have as many games, but it will be a much bigger challenge.”
The most positive sign for the Cougars was the shooting of junior wing Zac Seljaas, who was 5 of 8 from 3-point range for a season-high 15 points. The Cougars’ 3-point shooting tailed off when the reserves took over in the final 10 minutes, but they still shot a season-high 36 percent (8 of 22) with Seljaas finally finding the stroke he displayed as a freshman.
“We were just moving the ball and our offense was flowing really well today,” Seljaas said. “Shots were falling all over the place.”
Rose said it was “good to see” Seljaas heat up.
“The first thing is we spaced the floor really well and he got good open looks,” Rose said. “I think he rushed a couple of them. But the ones where they were in rhythm, he was delivered pretty good passes in a place he could jump up and shoot it.”
BYU jumped out to an 8-0 lead, took a 46-24 lead at halftime and Rose started clearing his bench midway through the second half. Thirty-two point favorites, the Cougars led by as many as 40 points.
Freshman forward Gavin Baxter banged heads with an Oral Roberts player in Wednesday’s 85-65 win and did not play. Rose hopes to get him back Monday.
The coach was not as happy with the defensive play as he was with the offense. He felt like the Cougars lost their defensive focus late in the first half, and that carried over into the second half.
“So hopefully that is not a sign that when we are playing well offensively that we don’t guard quite as well. We will take a look at the film and move forward,” he said.
Rose is now 500-179 as head coach, counting his wins at Dixie College, which was a junior college at the time, and depending on a successful appeal in the Nick Emery/NCAA sanctions case.
If the appeal is not successful, 47 wins will be stripped from Rose’s record.