Cougar Bounces: UNLV

BYU put together quite a seven seven-day run. Just over a week ago, the Cougars had a statement win against 13th–ranked Air Force. Last Wednesday, the Boys in Blue ended a 12-year drought by beating Utah at the Huntsman Center. Last night, BYU annihilated 25th-ranked UNLV. The Cougar's recent run sends notice to the conference that the regular season championship must come through Provo.

PROVO, Utah – For the second game at the Marriott Center in a row, a ranked opponent came in and left with a loss. This time it was No. 25 UNLV who went home after getting pounded 90-63.

BYU decided to hold a three-point shooting clinic for the benefit of the visiting Rebels. Mike Rose was the demonstrator. The senior guard demonstrated how to shoot off a screen, how to knock down an open three, how to take one dribble and then elevate and shoot, and how to hit from 25 feet. Rose tied a school record with eight three-point makes – and he did it all on just ten attempts.

The Cougars also set a school record with 15 trifectas. Ironically, BYU's highest percentage of makes came from behind the arc where they hit 15-of-22 (68.2%). All told, BYU shot 34-for-59 (57.6%). Their struggles from the free throw line continued though, as they were just 7-for-16 (43.8%). Much of that was due to Trent Plaisted who was just 1-for-6 from the line; although he finished with 11 points.

Austin Ainge played well for the fifth straight game. He scored 17 points and had four more assists. When a team scores 90, there are plenty of players involved. BYU tied a season high with 23 assist with three players getting at least four.

The win improved the Cougars record to 17-6 and into a first place tie with Air Force. Both squads are 7-2 in conference. BYU now hits the road for two games at Wyoming and TCU. BYU will play Wyoming on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. MST on the mountain.


Point: A. A month ago against UNLV, Austin Ainge really struggled with the Rebels on-the-ball pressure. Consequently both he and the Cougars were not in rhythm offensively. Yesterday, Ainge handled the pressure like a seasoned vet. His 17 points came on 6-for-7 shooting, and he had four assists against just one turnover. He has 32 assists and just eight turnovers in the last five games. Ben Murdock came off the bench and had four assists in his 12 minutes of play

Wing: A+. Anytime a school record is set shooting the ball, I think an "A+" is required. Rose shot an amazing 80-percent from downtown. Several of the shots were well beyond the arc. When Rose set the school record back in 2003 he needed 13 shots to do so. Lee Cummard grabbed six rebounds and had five steals. He also held Wink Adams, who had 27 points in the last meeting, to just 4-for-10 shooting and just 14 points.

Post: B. Since it was the "Mike Rose Show" neither Keena Young nor Plaisted had to do much. So they did what they needed – score enough (20 points combined) to keep UNLV from attacking the perimeter and grabbing rebounds (12 combined). Oh, and kick it out to Rose for threes (three assists). Young also played good defense as Wendell White went scoreless in the second half.

Coach: B+. When it was apparent that the threes were falling and falling and falling, Rose stuck with it. The adjustments he and the other coaches made to handle the UNLV pressure that gave them fits was executed brilliantly. He also left Mike in and let him shoot until he got that eighth three. The Cougars also came ready to play and never trailed.

Spiff's Observations

- To watch Mike Rose make three after three after three was spectacular. He was completely in the zone. The basket must have looked five feet wide to him.

- Plaisted had the dunk of the night off the assist of the night. As Murdock streaked down the court, he tossed the ball back over his shoulder to Plaisted who slammed it home with one hand.

- BYU is shooting 49.7-percent from three during conference play. It is one reason why they are averaging nearly 79 points a game.

- I still believe that the Cougars will need 23 wins to guarantee a spot in the NCAA tournament. They have at least eight games left (if they lose in the first round of the MWC tourney). Anything less than 6-2 in those games and I think they are sweating on Selection Sunday.

- The decision to dismiss Rashaun Broadus may have been the toughest and best decision Coach Dave Rose has made during his time at BYU. Since then, BYU is 6-2 and they are playing extremely well. I think a lot of that is because the team is now Ainge's. There is no question who will run the offense. Austin has responded big time and is playing the best ball of his career. By becoming the full-time point guard (even by default), Ainge seems to be the defining moment of the season.

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