Cougar Bounces: San Diego State

After losing their conference opener in each of the last three seasons, the Cougars were not about to let the seniors go their entire BYU careers without starting 1-0 in Mountain West play. The team came out and made a statement against the pre-season conference favorite San Diego State. They dominated play on the way to an 80-58 victory.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 11-4 and 1-0 in conference. The loss dropped SDSU to 11-5, but more importantly 0-2 in conference play.

Lee Cummard led BYU in the first half, by scoring 13 points. He also played spectacular defense on pre-season player of the year Brandon Heath. Heath finished the game with 13 points, but shot just five of 13.

BYU took a 12-point lead to the locker room. In the second half, they came out and continued to press the issue. They were in the bonus with more than 12 minutes to play. Rashaun Broadus really got things going in the second half. He finished with a game-high 19 points.

Keena Young, who struggled with fouls all game long, also got on track in the second half and finished with 12 points. Trent Plaisted was the fourth Cougar to score in double figures with 13.

Cummard led all rebounders with 11. It was his second straight double-double.

In the second half, BYU took complete control, and the Aztecs were soundly demoralized. Heath was on the bench for a long stretch in the second half, and his demeanor did not give the impression that he was into the game. Another Aztec seemed more concerned with responding to taunts from the crowd than making free throws. A third Aztec was too busy complaining about a non-call to get back on defense and gave up a dunk to Plaisted.

The lead stretched as high as 25 before settling on the 22-point margin of victory. BYU will look to improve to 2-0 in conference play on Wednesday when they host TCU. That game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on the mtn.

GRADES

Point: A-. Rashaun Broadus easily had his best game of the year. He scored 19 and had four assists against just two turnovers. Austin Ainge also played well and even did a decent job when he was guarding Heath. It was a great game from this position that has struggled for much of the year.

Wing: B. Cummard continues to just fill up the stat sheet. The allusions to him being the Cougars' Andrei Kirilenko are not far off. He had 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and three steals. The defense played by the wing on Heath was also the difference. Balderson continued his struggles, but made contributions on defending Heath and the rest of the Aztec's perimeter.

Post: B+. Trent Plaisted had a career high six blocks and scored nine points in the second half. He also threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk that sent the nine thousand or so fans into a frenzy. Keena Young had an "off" game with 12 points and eight rebounds. The Cougs got a great contribution from Fernando Malaman. He had six points, four rebounds and three blocks and provided great energy while Young was on the bench.

Coach: A. The team had a great scouting report and game plan coming into the contest. They were ready to play from the get go – especially on defense. The coaches made the right moves with the bench and got good play from it (15 points). The game plan was so effective that it looked as if every move SDSU made was countered before they made it. It was the most complete game by the Cougs this year.

Spiff's Observations

- The point has been the weakest position this year. While they do not need 19 points every night, it was nice to see Broadus shoot well. He was very aggressive and repeatedly went to the hoop. That kind of driving was not present earlier in the season. If he can continue to be solid contributor, the team will continue to improve.

- While the crowd was announced at 9290, it seemed much larger and louder. The fans were into it from the start and created a very electric atmosphere. They were on officials and Aztecs all game long and never relented.

- Cummard is playing out of his mind right now. He might just be the best player on the team; he was clearly the best player on the court today. I stand by my prediction that he will be a conference POY by the time he graduates.

- Cummard had the most spectacular block of the season. SDSU was on a 2-on-1 fast break and looked like it was going to get an easy lay-up. Then Cummard came from half-court on a full sprint, leapt and blocked the ball into the backboard. He was way above the rim and timed it just right.

- I cannot stress enough how important the play of the point guard is for this team. If Broadus has turned a corner in his play, then Cougars will have a great deal to say about who wins the conference championship.

- LaVell Edwards was in attendance.

- Brandon Heath is probably glad he will never play in Provo again. In four games at the Marriott Center he shot a combined 15-50 (30-percent). He is a 20-point per game scorer who never scored more than 14.

- It was the sixth straight game BYU out-rebounded their opponent. Not coincidently, it was also the Cougars sixth straight win. Their average rebounding margin has been 15 a game.


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