The game was close throughout as BYU seemed to be toying with SEQ, but could never quite deliver a knockout punch. Their highest lead was seven points. To keep the game suspenseful for attending Cougar fans, they even trailed by five in the fourth quarter.
BYU started Mark Bigelow, Luiz Lemes, Terry Nashif, Garner Meads and Jared Jensen in the game and substituted freely throughout, giving substantial playing time to all the players. Once again, Bigelow led the team with 17 points, but was only 6 for 16 in shooting.
In the first half, Marc Roberts came off the bench on fire. He shot 5 for 7 from the field and hit 2 of 3 treys for a total of 14 points and led BYU to a halftime lead of 47-45.
The second half, however, had the feel of a pick up game in the Smith Fieldhouse. The most impressive performance of the second half came from Meads, who struggled Friday, but came back strong Saturday night with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, SEQ had a five point lead with 10 minutes left in the game, but BYU head coach Steve Cleveland never used his strongest line up. Instead, he used the game as a good opportunity to give quality minutes to the young players in a tight game situation.
Near the end, it looked like Meads had iced the game with 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute to give BYU a four point lead. However, SEQ staged a final rally that fell just short, with BYU edging SEQ 93-91.
Some random thoughts on the game:
This was a killer schedule; four games in four nights after traveling 10,000 miles! It would be unfair to read too much into the lack of execution and intensity tonight. On the other hand, it was nice to see so many young talented Cougar players get quality minutes and touches.
Garner Meads: 6 of 15; 15 pts; 11 rebounds; 3 steals; 24: 36 minutes: Garner played great. After last night, it was great to see him do well. Was the go-to guy in the fourth quarter and had a great game. He is a hustle player who showed great intensity. It will be interesting to see how much of a contribution he will make this year. Down the line, I think he'll be a very good player for BYU.
Mark Bigelow: 6 for 16; 17 points; 8 rebounds; 2 assists; 7 turnovers; 28:13 minutes: By his standards, he didn't have a very good game. However, even on an off-night, he made things happen when he was on the court.
Marc Roberts: 5 for 9; 17 points; 2 rebounds; 1 assist; 21:39 minutes: Marc had a terrific first half where he was effective from outside and inside. He showed good athleticism and outside shooting and was very active.
Luiz Lemes: 4 for 13; 8 pts; 3 rebounds; 3 assists; 30:55: Luiz didn't shoot the ball very well, but was still fairly effective. He can play both the shooting guard and point guard positions. I think he will get a lot of minutes this year.
Jake Shoff: 1 for 4; 2 pts; 5 rebounds; 9:05 minutes: Another poor outing for Jake. I wonder if his back is fully recovered. Not as aggressive as I remember seeing him last year. I think he will be a key player this year with his great size off the bench. Just hope his back is better.
Terry Nashif: 0 for 3; 0 pts; 2 rebounds; 9 assists; 1 turnover; 21:55 minutes: Runs the team well. Unspectacular, but doesn't make many mistakes either. Gets others involved in the offense. His 9-1 turnover assists ratio is very good.
Austin Ainge: 2 for 6; 6 pts; 2 rebounds; 2 assists; 2 steals; 17:24 minutes: Impressive intensity and feistiness. He will be a very good player in a few years. I think he'll be in the mix this season as well.
Ricky Bower: Did not play. Recovering from back surgery and four games in four nights wouldn't be smart.
Kevin Woodberry: 3 for 6; 7 pts; 3 rebounds; 2 assists; 3 turnovers; 28:35 minutes. Kevin should be the best point guard on the team, just doesn't always play that way. Needs to do a better job getting people involved, but has the quickness to be very effective.
Daniel Howard: 2 for 3; 6 points; 4 rebounds; 2 assists; 13:49 minutes: Followed up a great night Friday with a fairly good performance Saturday.
Jared Jensen: 2 for 5; 6 pts; 12 rebounds; 23:48 minutes: All BYU's big men suffered from the casual feel of the game and the fact they didn't try hard to pound the ball inside, which was surprising because of BYU's obvious inside advantage. Jared was still effective grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds.
Rafael Araujo: 4 for 8; 9 pts; 9 rebounds; 5 turnovers; 2 steals; 19:55 minutes. Rafael had a mediocre night by his standards.
I think point guard will be the biggest question mark this year. It could be a strength for the team with Woodberry, Nashif, Lemes and Ainge all showing great flashes. But someone needs to step up.
If it's Woodberry and he shows he can play within the system effectively, I think BYU will be very good. If Cleveland has to play musical point guards, I think they will still be good, but that position will be a weakness come NCAA tournament time.
Brian Santiago, BYU's associate athletic director, predicted this year's team will be Cleveland's best since he's been at the Y.
A final note on the two games played here in Brisbane: On Friday night, attendance was probably around 800, with about half the crowd for BYU. These were local church members who probably don't even like basketball, but showed up because it was BYU – there are seven LDS stakes in the greater Brisbane area. It was great that BYU staged that furious comeback to win the game. In the second half, Brisbane must have wondered what was going on when "their" home crowd was chanting B-Y-U!
Saturday night's crowd wasn't quite as big, but was definitely pro-BYU and was chanting and cheering the entire game; a strange sight and sound for the Brisbane locals!
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