Cougar Bounces

Despite missing two major contributors, BYU avoided back-to-back losses for the fifth time this season. They also avoided back-to-back home losses to Wyoming for the first time since the Truman administration.

Trailing 38-36 at the half, the Cougars stormed out of the locker room and took control of the game. A 20-3 run opened the second half and some key free throw shooting down the stretch sealed an 80-67 victory. The win improved BYU to 10-5 overall and 2-2 in MWC play.

The Cougars next game is Saturday on the road against conference leaders San Diego State.

GRADES

Point: A. With Rashaun Broadus suspended for the game, Austin Ainge picked up the slack. He played 32 minutes and scored 12 points. He also grabbed three rebounds and had two assists. He did have three turnovers, but played good defense with two steals. It was a big game for Ainge when his team needed it.

Wing: A. Lee Cummard set the tone for the game early with two steals. A dunk and a lay-up for a three-point play got the Cougars started. Cummard scored nine of BYU's first 16 points. His 27 minutes were a career high, as were his 13 points and four assists. Jimmy Balderson came of the bench to play 19 productive minutes. He had five rebounds, four of them offensive, against the best rebounding team in the conference. Brock Reichner made 8-9 free throws that kept BYU ahead late. Jackson Emery had a key block late in the shot clock on one defensive possession too.

Post: A. Trent Plaisted played like the player I have been touting since practice began. He scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He did foul out, but he was aggressive all night. He came to play. Fernando Malaman has been accused of being "soft" and a "Euro" and he may well be – but not tonight. It was a rough shooting night for him (2-8) but his eight rebounds were a huge factor in the Cougars win. With Derek Dawes available, but resting a sore shoulder, Keena Young played additional minutes and was again very active with 16 points and six rebounds.

Coach: A. The coaching staff really knows how to get the players to respond after a loss. They also made key adjustments. Fronting Justin Williams was not working in the first half as the Cowboys would lobbed it in to him for several easy dunks. So in the second, they played behind Williams and brought an immediate double-team. Williams was forced to kick it out on the perimeter where Wyoming was as cold as Laramie is tonight (8-31 in the second half and 0-10 from threes in the second half). The coaches emphasized the importance of rebounding all week and it paid off in a +5 margin against a team that was +14 in conference play.

OBSERVATIONS

- I commented to Scott Paul before the game that Plaisted could be huge tonight because Williams (who was three blocks shy of a triple double) is such a good defender that Trent would see a lot of one-on-one. Trent was indeed huge with 17 and 8. It might have been his best game as a Cougar. He will become the best post player in BYU history.

- Cummard was amazing. He had two dunks. The second of which was on a fast break when he went up and over two Cowboys. It was sick. He looked very comfortable out there, which is a very good thing.

- Derek Dawes was suited up to play, but his shoulder was still bothering him from my perspective. I think the coaches were trying not to use him and were able to give him more rest.

- Wyoming is an amazing rebounding team. For BYU to out-rebound them shows the kind of spectacular effort all the Cougars gave.

- Holding Wyoming to 38-percent shooting shows the defensive effort BYU put forth.

- Wyoming has an amazing freshman point guard, Brandon Ewing, who had 21 points, four assists and never sat. I think we just saw the second incarnation of Jay Straight. The kid is going to be good for the next four years.

- Young has made 18 of his last 30 shots.

- BYU has shot less than 40-percent from the arc the last five games. Only one player has made more than two three-pointers in a game in that stretch.

- For those who were asking about footwork, the team spent the last 15 minutes of practice working on foot work on the low block.

- Broadus' suspension was said to be a team issue. Coach Rose said that he made a mistake, admitted it and will be practicing on Thursday. He did not say if there will be any more games missed.

- BYU's road game at San Diego State this Saturday starts at 8 p.m. MST and will be televised locally on KSL and SportsWest.


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