BYU could either fold and lose their first conference home game, or they could hunker-down, play some defense and make the plays much like they had during their recent four-game win streak. The Cougars decided on the latter.
Thanks to key three-pointers by Brock Reichner and clutch free throws by Keena Young, BYU pulled out the win. Young led the Cougars in scoring with 17 points. Reichner scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Trent Plaisted had his third double-double of conference play with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Jimmy Balderson came off the bench to score 16 as well.
This was a crucial game for BYU. They stayed within striking distance of conference leader San Diego State, who comes to Provo on February 22. When the Cougars needed big plays, several players were willing to step up against the Rebels.
Balderson had four offensive rebounds, converting on several shots on which he was fouled and then subsequently completing the three-point play. Reichner and Young were on the floor multiple times diving for loose balls.
UNLV got three chances to tie the game in the final 16 seconds. On the first, Reichner appeared to steal the ball and call timeout before landing out of bounds, but officials ruled that he first stepped out of bounds. On the second attempt UNLV got a shot off but neither team could control the rebound and the ball went out of bounds, the back official saying the ball went off a BYU player. UNLV's final chance bounced off the back iron.
Point: C+. Rashaun Broadus struggled to shoot the ball again but shot much less than he did against Utah. He also had a poor defensive game. UNLV's point guard had 27 points in the first 26 minutes of the game when Broadus was the primary defender. It was the second straight night he has struggled on defense (Utah's Johnnie Bryant had 14). Austin Ainge came off the bench to provide the spark that led to BYU's 17-point lead.
Wing: B. Reichner does not shoot well at home, but he made the plays in the second half when his team needed them. Balderson also bounced back from a poor Utah game and gave BYU its needed fourth scorer. Lee Cummard scored his first points in several games.
Post: B+. Double-double from Plaisted, career high in points from Young and Fernando Malaman's first points in three games. The three also had eight offensive rebounds which helped the Cougars win the battle of the boards.
Coach: B. I thought Coach Rose stayed with Broadus on Jason Petrimoulx too long. Once the taller Balderson started guarding him, Petrimoulx was held scoreless. But Rose did a great job of keeping his guys focused, especially late in the contest when several of the calls were going against the Cougars. He also did a great job of getting his team ready to play after the bad loss to Utah.
- Since scoring three points against UNLV in Vegas, Plaisted has averaged 16 a game.
- Against Utah Plaisted, Young and Reichner combined for 47 points, tonight they combined for 44. The difference between the 19-point loss and 5-point win were the 16 points from Balderson as opposed the five he had against Utah. BYU must have a fourth scorer.
- Plaisted and Young both had career highs in assists. Plaisted is starting to pass very well out of the post, giving BYU an effective inside-out game.
- Rose has shortened his bench to eight players. The five starters (Broadus, Cummard, Reichner, Young and Plaisted) with Ainge, Balderson and Malaman off the bench have played 570 of the last 600 player minutes.
- Petrimoulx's 27 points were a career high.
- Is it just me, or do teams seem to shoot free throws unbelievably well against BYU? UNLV is a 64-percent shooting team. In the two games against BYU they have shot 20-25 and 12-15 (80-percent).
- BYU is now the only team in the MWC with a perfect record in conference play at home.
- I must say something about the officiating this evening. I do not blame officials for wins or losses, because there are too many plays in game that a team can make to "take it out of the refs' hands." But BYU should NEVER again step foot on a court when Lonnie Dixon is scheduled to officiate. This is the same Dixon who called the technical on Mark Bigelow at New Mexico for coming on to the court after HE blew a whistle, and then he was not man enough to fess up to his mistake. Tonight, he incorrectly called Reichner out of bounds on the steal at the end of the game when Reichner called for timeout. He also did not "see" who the ball went off of on the next possession and had to get help from the official 30-feet away and who was screened by two players. (I checked the tape and it went of UNLV's Dustin Villepigue). He also completely missed on the call when Balderson took a forearm to the face from Ja'Von Adams. The man's bias against BYU is blatantly obvious. I call for BYU to take this up with MWC officials and have Dixon NEVER again officiate a BYU basketball game.
- BYU has the week off before traveling to Wyoming. It is a 3 p.m. MDT tip-off and will be televised on KJZZ and SportsWest.
- BYU is now 15-7 on the year and 7-4 in the MWC. They are still tied with Air Force, but are only one half game behind UNLV for second.