Cougar Bounces: TCU

Survive the opening game: mission accomplished. BYU was certainly not pretty in their 77-64 quarterfinal victory over TCU, but they did not need to be. All they needed to do was advance, and they did. The Cougars even managed a 13-point win on a night then the MWC Player of the Year and MWC Newcomer of the Year both had sub-standard performances.

The Cougars were led by Trent Plaisted's 22 points – his most since he scored 22 in the home win against Air Force. It was a game of determined effort on the glass. BYU out-rebounded TCU by 22. At one point in the second half, BYU had more offensive rebounds than the Horned Frogs had total rebounds.

The game was never in doubt and the Cougars were able to cruise to victory. The lead ballooned to 19 before TCU "closed" to a more respectable score. BYU was able to get done what they wanted. They won and were not forced to play major minutes by their main players. Only Plaisted played more than 30 minutes.

BYU again got good minutes and scoring from the bench. Mike Rose hit four three-pointers – well, actually it was five, but the officials incorrectly ruled one three to have hit the shot clock before falling in. Replays showed it did bounce on top of the backboard, but did not touch the shot clock. Regardless, Rose finished with 16 points.

With the win, BYU improved to 24-7 on the year. They will now face Wyoming, who upset Air Force. The game will tip at 7:00 p.m. MST and can be seen on CSTV.

GRADES

Point: B. Austin Ainge missed all five attempts from the floor, but did make three free throws. He was also very effective in both pushing the ball and running the half-court sets. He finished with seven assists. Ainge did have some trouble with the full-court pressure TCU applied, and had one ten-second violation.

Wing: B+. Timely shooting by Rose and excellent defense by Lee Cummard earned this grade. Cummard held TCU's leading scorer to two free throws. Other than that, Brent Hackett missed all his shots. Jimmy Balderson was solid, scoring ten points.

Post: B+. It is always a good sign for the Cougars when Keena Young can score his fewest points in a month and they still win big. Plaisted was more than willing to pick up the slack. He nearly had his third double-double in five games against TCU – missing it by one rebound. Vuk Ivanovic also helped by scoring five points in just four minutes.

Coach: A. They had TCU scouted perfectly. When the Horned Frogs tried to take Young out of the game, they went to Plaisted. Rose was also hot from the outside and they stayed with him. One thing I really liked was how they managed the minutes. BYU is looking to play three games in three days and there no reason to play anyone major minutes in the first game.

Spiff's Observations

- Wyoming has a very large and vocal crowd out for their game today. If BYU fans want to match the numbers and enthusiasm of the Cowboy fans, then Cougar faithful are going to have to turn out in droves and cheer themselves hoarse.

- The three-day tournament is a marathon, not a sprint. It looks like BYU is taking each game seriously. They did not put TCU to bed early, but neither did they really let them hang around. It was a good opening round game.

- If you are the rest of the MWC and looking at the box score, you almost would have liked to have seen Young or Jonathan Tavernari or Ainge scoring a lot. None of them shot the ball well. You have to think they will each have a game in the next two where they do, and that could spell trouble for upcoming opponents.

- I thought Plaisted had one of his more diverse offensive games. He made several different shots: his traditional move left across the lane and shoot the half-hook/half-jump shot, a turn-around baseline jumper, an up-and-under move, and, of course, a slam dunk on the break. He must continue to diversify his game.

- The 46 rebounds were a season-high against a MWC opponent.

- The Ray Giacoletti era is now officially over as Utah bowed out of the tournament following an 80-54 loss.

- Is it me or do teams seem to make a higher percentage of their free throws against BYU? Take TCU's Kevin Langford, coming into the game he was shooting 50-percent. What does he do against BYU? Shoot ten-for-ten.

- Wyoming will be tired tomorrow. They had four guys play more minutes than anyone on BYU. They might hang with BYU in the first half, but BYU will pull away in the second and advance to the finals.


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