Rebels, Terry Too Much For Cougars

The Cougars lost to the Rebels 70-41, giving the loud Rebel crowd of 13,074 much to cheer about. Behind the shooting of Curtis Terry, the Rebels let the Cougars know it's going to be a battle for the MWC crown this year and they're not afraid to go right at the Cougars, even if their tallest guy is 6 feet 8 inches.

Hopefully the Cougars believe in the slogan "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," because if they perform the way they did Tuesday for the rest of the season, it's going to be a long, disappointing season for them. This could have been the worst loss for the Cougars since the 2005-06 season, when the Cougars were embarrassed at Air Force. In a game full of lowlights for BYU and highlights for the Rebels, grades are in.

Point Guard: F

Curtis Terry is 6 feet 5 inches, while Ben Murdock is 6 feet 2 inches, and if you look at the box score from the game, those three inches seemed to make a big difference. Terry had his way with Murdock, as he ended with a game-high 21 points on 7-12 shooting and 5-8 from three-point land, with some of those three-pointers coming from very deep. Murdock simply could not stay with Terry and it was a big reason why the Rebels mopped the floor with the Cougars. Not only was Murdock getting used on defense, but he could not get his team's offense going either. He scored six points on 2-5 shooting, 0-3 from three-point range. He also had three turnovers and two assists. Besides these stats, Murdock is having a hard time breaking a press and getting the Cougars into their offense. Once Murdock got the Cougars into their offense, the Rebels were there to push the offense out and not allow them to have correct spacing, which was making it hard to have good entry passes into the post. Murdock played 32 minutes and it appears as if Rose is going to stick with him as the man. He let Michael Loyd play early when Murdock had two fouls, but Lee Cummard was bringing the ball up the court. I don't know what the answer for Murdock is. From watching him on television and in person, he seems like he has a good intensity to him, but he simply is not talented enough for the Cougars to be demanding so much out of him.

Shooting Guard: F

The Cougars were so sloppy Tuesday that they could've been the Bad News Bears. If BYU TV were to make a commercial of the game imitating the Bad News Bears, they would most definitely use the clip of when Sam Burgess was inbounding the ball and was trapped in the front court by three Rebels. He took about two dribbles and then threw what appeared to be a no-look, terrible pass towards Murdock that was stolen for an easy lay-up. This play alone described the way the Cougars played Tuesday. It was sloppy, ugly basketball. Burgess ended the game with two points on two made free throws. He was 0-5 from the field. Early in the game he had a couple of real good looks at threes that just would not go down. It was one of those nights for the Cougars and it was one of those nights for Burgess.

Jimmer Fredette only got 10 minutes, which I'm still having a hard time understanding. In a game where you're struggling to get buckets, I don't know why a pure scorer like Fredette would spend so much time on the bench. A basket was waved off for Fredette for a blown charge call that was a block. He ended the night with three points on 1-2 shooting from the field.

Small Forward: C-

On most nights I would give Cummard lower than a 'C' for the type of performance he had against UNLV, but when you're team is playing as bad as BYU played, he deserves some credit for trying to hold things together. He ended the game with a team-high 11 points on 4-9 shooting from the field and 1-4 from behind the arc. He also had five rebounds and four turnovers. He made a couple of shaky passes that should've been caught but were mishandled so they turned into turnovers, and he also made some poor passes. Cummard has been the most consistent player for the Cougars this season, but like the rest of the Cougars, he did not bring his best game Tuesday.

Power Forward: F

Jonathon Tavernari was awful against the Rebels. Not only did he take bad, rushed shots, but he simply could not hit anything. In the game last Saturday, Tavernari had 25 points on shots similar to what he took Tuesday, meaning not very good shots, but they went in and that essentially is all that matters. Well, on Tuesday he couldn't hit sand if he fell off a camel. He ended the game with three points, his lone basket of the night coming from beyond the arc. He was 1-5 from beyond the arc and 1-9 from the field. There was one instance when Tavernari took a shot about three feet behind the three-point line with 11 seconds to go on the shot clock. It would've possibly been acceptable if there was only one second left on the shot clock, but with 11 seconds to go, pulling up from three feet behind the line when you can't hit anything is not going to get it done. On a separate occasion, he took a three, missed it, got the rebound and forced a difficult turnaround jumper up immediately. This all went down when the Cougars could not buy a bucket in the first half. He was simply bad.

I don't know if it's just me, but I think that Tavernari's teammates are getting frustrated with him. It's nice when he does score 25 points in a game that the Cougars win by 19 points, but it also kills the team when he scores three points in 26 minutes of play and is continually forcing up bad shots.

Center: D

I want to make this clear: Trent Plaisted received an 'F' for his performance, or non-performance. The reason that this grade is raised is because of the 17 solid minutes that Chris Miles put together. Most of his minutes and buckets came late in the game when the game was out of reach, but it is always nice to have a player like Miles come off your bench to get him some confidence, as he has played very well the past two games. Miles had nine points Tuesday and had some effective post moves. While these post moves were against - at the tallest - a 6-foot-eight-8-inch defender, he still proved that he could score.

Miles played so well that he started the second half for the Cougars in place of Plaisted. Obviously Coach Rose must've seen something because Plaisted was not in foul trouble at all during the night, as he ended the game with just one foul. How the Cougars could not jump dominate the Rebels and their tallest player of 6 feet 8 inches is mind-boggling to me. While it's not fair to put the complete blame on Plaisted (some should go to Coach Rose, and the guards who were trying to enter the ball), Plaisted needs to want the ball. If you're a 6-foot-11-inch athletic freak and you see a 6-foot-8-inch guy trying to guard you, you need to get hungry and aggressive and want the ball. Rather than eating up the Rebels Tuesday, Plaisted was eaten up, as he only scored five points on a 2-3 performance from the field. How does a guy with a three-inch advantage on every player on the UNLV team only get off three shots in the post? I do not understand. While the three field goal attempts might be frustrating, wait until you read the next stat line of his. He was 1-10 from the free-throw line. One trick that opposing coaches are starting to use is, if Plaisted is close to the basket, the other team will foul him. Make him earn his points from the free-throw line. I promise you that Lon Krueger has watched enough tape on Plaisted and the Cougars that he knows that Plaisted will dominate you if you allow him to, but if you force him to get his points from the line, he can struggle. He proved Tuesday that he will struggle.

Bench: C-

As mentioned above, Miles contributed with 19 solid minutes and nine points, which was the second-highest point total from the team. Also contributing from the bench was Chris Collinsworth, who did not have a point but had a team-high 11 rebounds. Collinsworth certainly did not want to lose the battle to the Rebels in the rebounding category, but even with his 11 boards off the bench, the Rebels outrebounded the Cougars 34-32 with their tallest player being 6 feet 8 inches. Hard to believe, I tell you. Fredette was called for a charge early in the game that was a clear block. The ball ended up going down but was waved off and a personal foul was called against him.

Coach: F

Having the size and talent that BYU has, losing by 29 points to an undersized UNLV team is bad. The Cougars did not show up Tuesday. They had one player - Cummard - in double digits, and they were outrebounded by the Rebels. On one possession, the Rebels got three offensive rebounds until Cummard finally brought the ball down for the Cougars. The Cougars also shot a miserable 40 percent from the free-throw line, much of this due to Plaisted's 1-10 from the line. After the game, the MTN reporter said that he thought Plaisted's right hand was too low on the ball and that he was shooting with one hand. I don't care what the problem is, but someone please fix it. This is coaching and it needs to be improved. You should not be outrebounded by a team that is as undersized as the Rebels are, you should not shoot 40 percent from the free-throw line, and you should have a plan to break a press. I know that Coach Rose has worked on these things and continues to work on these things, but Tuesday's game was ugly and we do not want to see another game like this anytime soon. I have confidence that Coach Rose has the players ready to play on Saturday at Utah. If not, this season could get ugly....quick.

Random Tidbits: It's difficult to complain much about officiating when you lose by 29 points, but it appeared as if the officiating Tuesday was very inconsistent. There would be a ton of contact on one end of the court where there would be a no-call, and then back on the other end of the court a ticky-tack call would be made and send a player to the line. One play that comes to my mind is when Cummard rebounded the ball and shot it at the elbow and was just hacked. He ended up air-balling the shot and there was no call. Even the wonderful MTN crew thought it was a foul. It was bad. In the opening minutes Cummard was blocked on a fast-break attempt at a lay-up that got the crowd excited. I was upset with the MTN's broadcast Tuesday and how they would spend too much time filming a coach and not watching the game. There was one play when the Cougars had the ball, a foul was called, and the MTN spent three minutes talking about Coach Rose and Coach Krueger. There is nothing wrong with talking about these coaches, but when you're talking about them show us the dang game. The Cougars ended up losing the ball and we never were told/saw what happened.

Next up: BYU @ Utah Saturday January 19th, 2 p.m. MST TV- National Coverage on Versus

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