Cougar Bounces

After suffering double-digit losses on their two most recent road trips, BYU took I-15 south to hook up with UNLV. The result, like the Cougars' two previous road games, was no different.

BYU was very good with the basketball against Utah, limiting their turnovers to just seven. Against UNLV, however, the Cougars had nearly double that number by half-time. Before this game, BYU had routinely played better in the second half after making some adjustments at halftime. Against UNLV, it was the Running Rebels who made the proper adjustments.

Up by just seven at the break, UNLV came out of the locker room on fire and started the half on a 15-5 run. BYU could never cut the lead to less than eight the rest of the way. The final score was 82-72.

GRADES:

Point: C. Austin Ainge and Rashaun Broadus had a decent shooting night. The combined for 15 points on 5-11 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. But they only dished out three assists and committed four turnovers. They were also completely outmanned on defense. Jo'Van Adams had 23 points, four assists and five steals. He controlled the game from the top, while his counterpart Louis Amundson was in charge down low.

Wing: C. Lee Cummard, Jimmy Balderson, Brock Reichner, Jackson Emery and Mike Rose also shot the ball relatively well (9-19). They were also pretty solid on defense, and their eight rebounds was a sign of good effort. Balderson played only ten minutes, but they were some of his best minutes in recent games.

Post: D. Aside from Derek Dawes getting to the free throw line eight times, this was probably the worst performance of the season by BYU's big men. They were turnover machines (11 of BYU's 18) and foul prone. Trent Plaisted fouled out, Young had four and Malaman had three. They were awful on defense as Amundson had 15 points in the second half, including two spectacular alley-oop dunks.

Coach: C. Game plan was there. Open shots were missed. Passes were lazy and easily picked off. When the Cougs got down by 18, Rose got a technical (it had been years since a BYU coach got a T) and BYU immediately responded and got back into the game. It appears that the coaches are still learning how to get the players to respond after a big win and on the road.

OBSERVATIONS:

- While I still maintain that Plaisted will be one of the best post players ever at BYU, he needs to set up on the low block more quickly and more forcefully. He needs to call for the ball more adamantly once he gets his position.

- BYU appeared to be surprised by UNLV's quickness. UNLV had nine steals and it looked like many were from telegraphed passes that did not have much behind them. The Cougs seemed to have been tempting the Rebels to get into the passing lanes for easy steals.

- It never ceases to amaze me how well teams and players seem to shoot free throws against BYU. I need to crunch some numbers to see if there is something behind this perception. Until then, Amundson came into the game a 54-percent shooter. He was 7-9 (78%) against BYU. As a team, UNLV was last in the conference at 62.3-percent. They were 20-25 (80%) against BYU.

- After rebounding very well against Utah, Plaisted struggled again to secure the ball. His four rebounds in 21 minutes are just not enough for a 6-foot-11 player. He should be averaging one rebound every three and a half minutes, not one every five and half.

- Dawes left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. Ice was applied. He has had shoulder issues in the past. No word on the severity. If Dawes misses any amount of time, BYU will be sorely lacking in the post. They would only have two players 6-foot-9 or taller at their disposal.

- After several strong games in a row, Young played much like he did at the beginning of the season. His four fouls, four turnovers and just three rebounds were very much unlike the Keena Young of recent games.

- Malaman led the team in scoring with 13 and rebounds with seven, but he also missed several wide open looks that BYU fans had become accustomed to seeing him knock down.

- With 18 turnovers against just 11 assists, it was the Cougars first game with a negative ratio since the USC game.

- The last two games have seen opposing guards score 23 points in each. Johnnie Bryant (Utah) and Adams (UNLV) have been guarded by Ainge and Broadus. Combined the two made 18 of 28 shots. BYU must get better defensive efforts from the point position to be successful.

- Wins on the road are going to be very tough to come by. So far this conference season, road teams have won just three of the first 12 games. It is the teams that lose at home that will be eliminated first from conference contention. The three teams to lose at home so far are Wyoming, TCU and Utah.

- BYU will take Saturday off. Their next game is next Wednesday when they will host Wyoming. The game will be broadcast by SportsWest and ESPN Full Court. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. MST.


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