Cougar Bounces: San Jose State

With a huge road battle looming against the Spartans of Michigan State, BYU got a dry run against another team of Spartans. The Cougars defeated the San Jose State 81-69 and improved their record to 5-2. After losing a disheartening game to Boise State and then pulling out a victory against Weber State in overtime, BYU showed good effort and resiliency in this win.

BYU jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead only to see San Jose go on a 15-3 run of its own and take the lead. The first half was back-and-forth the rest of the way and it looked like BYU might be in trouble as Trent Plaisted and Keena Young were both on the bench with foul trouble.

Sam Burgess then came off the bench and hit a big three that restarted BYU's offense. After some timely defense and several fast break points, BYU took a 46-38 lead at the half. It was almost an 11-point lead as Jimmy Balderson seemingly hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, but officials later ruled it came milliseconds too late.

The Spartans came out of the locker room and immediately cut the lead to two. A timeout by BYU allowed Cougar head coach Dave Rose to muster his troops, and the Cougars took control. Young threw down a one-handed dunk that got the crowd back involved. Then Balderson stole the ball and streaked down court. He missed the lay-up, but Lee Cummard was there to slam home the miss.

The Cougar lead ballooned to as high as fourteen. While San Jose was able to cut it back to single digits late, BYU held onto the win by making their free throws.


Point: C+. Rashaun Broadus played better than he has been playing, but he seems to be struggling with confidence. After starting the season with red-hot shooting, Austin Ainge is finding it hard to make baskets. Ben Murdock came in and gave good minutes, but this is still the weakest position on the team.

Wing: B. This grade would have been higher if Balderson had made more than three of his 13 attempts. Cummard looked like the best player on the floor and may have had his best game as a Cougar. He scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds, had five assists, four steals and two blocks. He was everywhere on both offense and defense. Burgess also came off the bench to provide a needed spark.

Post: B+. Young has easily been BYU's best player this year and his 16 points and seven rebounds did nothing to dispel that notion. Plaisted broke out of his slump with a season high 20 points. He played calm and collected and did not force anything. It was easily his best game of the year.

Coach: B+. The experiment of starting Ainge and Broadus might need more evaluation. But the emphasis on getting the ball into the post is clearly the way to go. The post players were good at kicking the ball out for open looks and/or scoring on their own.

Spiff's Observations

- Getting the post players involved was clearly a point of focus for the coaches. After winning the tip, Plaisted immediately posted up. Broadus came off a screen and was wide open for a three, but chose to dump it inside to Plaisted who responded by making the bucket.

- Backup center Vuk Ivanovic sprained his ankle in practice on Monday. He said he was being held out for the game on Saturday. He also said that he could not walk on Tuesday, but could on Wednesday, so he was confident it would not be an issue against Michigan State.

- The fans in the front row got their money's worth as three times a player on the court dove into the row after the ball.

- The coaches are clearly using minutes to send messages. Earlier this year, an ineffective Broadus remained on the bench while Murdock came in for Ainge. Last night, it was an ineffective Ainge who remained on the bench. Point guard play must improve if BYU is to reach their potential.

- The Cougars will travel to The Palace at Auburn Hills to play Michigan State. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and tip-off is 2 p.m. MST.

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