Cougar Bounces: Wyoming

BYU extended the nation's second longest home winning streak to 26 games following an 89-81 victory over Wyoming. The Cougars were paced by a career high 29 points from Keena Young. Trent Plaisted added 15, Austin Ainge chipped in 13 and Jonathan Tavernari joined them in double digits with 10. BYU also grabbed more rebounds than their opponent for the first time in three games.

It was the Cowboys who came out of the chute quickly and took an early eight-point lead. It was not until some timely shooting by backups Jonathan Tavernari and Ben Murdock that the Cougar offense got rolling.

BYU then rolled the entire second half. After shooting just 36-percent in the first frame, the Cougars shot better than 54-percent and scored 52 points in the second half.

Another key player was senior Mike Rose. Known for his shooting, it was defense on current MWC Player of the Week Brandon Ewing that earned him accolades this game. Ewing was held in check for most of the game. He did finish with 22 points, but the majority of those came late in the game when Wyoming was trying to make a run.

The Cougars now hit the road with back-to-back games at Colorado State and New Mexico. Their next home game is the 27th against Air Force.

GRADES

Point: B+. The point did a much better job of handling the pressure than they did against UNLV. Whether that was due to better play or being at home, the results were noticeable. Austin Ainge also found the shooting touch that he apparently keeps in the Marriott Center. They were also better able to contain Wyoming's quicker guards.

Wing: B+. Lee Cummard was hindered by a bruise on his leg and scored just a single free throw. Jimmy Balderson scored just seven before fouling out. He did play good defense and contributed to limiting Ewing's effect on the game. Rose scored nine points in addition to his defensive efforts. As was stated, Tavernari really gave the team a lift with his 10-point first half.

Post: A-. The second half was one of the rare times this year that both Keena Young and Trent Plaisted were playing well together. They could have done a little better job of boxing out on the defensive glass, but they made up for it on the offensive glass. While 44 points from these two players might be too much expect night in and night out, if the two combine for more than 30 the Cougars will continue to be tough to beat.

Coach: B+. The game was to take away Ewing and it worked for the most part as he was held in check the first three quarters of the game. Daaron Brown, Wyoming's center, was nearly unstoppable in the first half and finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds. When the focus shifted a bit onto him, Ewing came alive which contributed to his scoring burst at the end. Going to the bench helped the Cougars get back into the game. They made their first half surge largely with Rose, Tavernari and Murdock on the floor.

Spiff's Observations:

- Rose really is playing his best basketball in several years. He is finally getting significant minutes. He played 31 against Wyoming. He has also seen good minutes the last several games. So is his good play due to the increased minutes or are the increased minutes due to his good play? Probably a little of both.

- Ainge was scoring and the Cougars won. I really don't think it will be that much more difficult of an equation the rest of the year. Ainge is the team's barometer – especially now that Broadus is gone. When he plays well (Wyoming) they win. When he doesn't (UNLV), they don't.

- The crowd was announced at 12,817. It was the largest of the year. They were into it and understood when to cheer and lift the team. It almost seemed that they willed the Cougars to their first half run.

- Is there a more fun coach in the MWC to watch in than Steve McClain? He never stops moving. He is constantly hounding the officials following every sequence. He has no understanding of the coach's box. He is demonstrative and intense. I found myself enjoying watching him almost as much as the game.

- Cummard and his wife Sarah found out last week, they are having a boy later this spring.

- The Colorado State game is scheduled for this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. MST on the mountain.


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