Cougar Bounces

Another road game, another poor performance for the BYU men's basketball team. Although the 88-61 loss to San Diego State was slightly different than the previous conference road losses, the result was not.

The Cougars actually started the game well on offense. They scored nine points in the first four minutes. Their defensive effort was solid for the first ten minutes of the first half too, as the Aztecs started the game shooting just 5-17 (29-percent). BYU also out-rebounded the second-best rebounding team in the conference.

San Diego State, however, was able to stay in the game courtesy of some great free throw shooting. They made nine of their first ten free throws and when the score was 21-19 for the Aztecs, only 12 of those points had not come from the free throw line. As the officials were calling it very tight on the Cougars on defense (13 fouls in the first half), San Diego State took full advantage of it by driving the ball right at the Cougars, forcing contact and drawing the foul. On the other end, BYU was not nearly as aggressive and the fouls were not called.

With about eight minutes left in the half, the Aztecs blew the game open and showed why they were picked first in the conference. A 21-4 run finished the half as the lead ballooned from 21-20 Aztecs to 42-24. Marcus Slaughter, the pre-season MWC Player of the Year, had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes. He did cool off in the second half, scoring just four after half-time.

Teammates Brandon Heath and Mohamed Abukar picked up the slack. They pitched in 26 and 15 points respectively. Back-up guard Jon Sharper came off the bench for 16.

GRADES:

Point: C. Ainge and Broadus combined to go 3 for 10 shooting with one assist, three rebounds and five turnovers. There were poor passes on in-bounds and poor passes when being pressured in the back court. Too often, the Cougar point guards picked up their dribble and were trapped. They were unable to control the tempo of the game.

Wing: C. The defense struggled in this group. Reichner was on Heath for much of the night and was simply unable to keep in front of him. Heath did have his first 50-percent shooting night in a month. The group rebounded well, combining for 15 including six offensive boards. Despite those offensive boards, they shot just 8-23.

Post: C. Even though Plaisted and Young combined for 28 points and 15 rebounds, they also had seven turnovers. That rebounding number looks good, until it is noticed that Slaughter had 14 by himself. Malaman played a season-low 11 minutes. He had two points, one assists, one rebound, two fouls and two turnovers. Dawes, who did not play in the previous game missed all three lay-ups, grabbed one rebound and committed four fouls in 13 minutes.

Coach: C. The coaches could find no answer for San Diego's post players. Plaisted and Dawes saw some time together in the first half. Plaisted looked uncomfortable at the four and Dawes was completely ineffective in the post. Any "working" of the officials Coach Rose did was unsuccessful as his Cougars were called for more than twice as many fouls in the first half.

OBSERVATIONS:

- BYU, like SDSU had very balanced scoring. SDSU had four players score 15 points or more. BYU had five players score three or four points.

- The Cougars out-rebounded SDSU 36-34, but that rebounding edge did not translate into offensive production.

- BYU is averaging 17 turnovers in their three conference road games. That number is 9.5 at home.

- For the sixth straight game, the Cougars made less than 35-percent of their three-point shots.

- At one point in the first half, BYU had been whistled for 12 fouls while the Aztecs had just four.

- The Aztecs were amazing at getting in the passing lanes and it showed with 13 steals. It was the most steals against BYU this year.

- The Aztecs missed 12 of their first 17 shots (29-percent). They then made 26 of their final 43 (60-percent).

- In conference games, BYU is shooting 79.6-percent from the free throw line.

- After averaging nearly five blocks and more than six steals a game in the pre-conference season, BYU is now averaging 2.4 blocks and 4.4 steals in their five MWC games.

- SDSU has two of the five road wins in th conference.

- Five of the Cougars first eight conference games are on the road. That also means that they'll finish the conference season with five of eight at home -- just what BYU will need to make late season push.

- The Cougars next game is Wednesday night at home against TCU (5-14, 1-4). There will be no television for this game.


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