Point Guard: B+
Ben Murdock dished out five assists Saturday against the Cowboys, marking the eighth time this season and fifth time in conference play that he has had at least five assists. Murdock also contributed six boards for the Cougars, a new career high for the senior point guard. While both of these are great for Murdock, the best thing that Murdock did Saturday was guard Brandon Ewing, one of the best guards in the MWC. Ewing had two points in the first half and ended with 12 on the game, shooting 6-16 from the field. This is due in large part to the defense that Murdock played. Ewing did end with an impressive nine assists, but that was not because Murdock was not playing well defensively; it was because Ewing's teammates finished well.
Shooting Guard: B
Sam Burgess scored 10 points for the Cougars Saturday, as he shot 3-7 from the field and 2-2 from the free-throw line. He also did a good job guarding Brad Jones, the Cowboy that scored 23 points against Jimmy Balderson and the Cougars in the MWC Tournament last season. Jones ended with 13 points and shot 4-10 from the field. Burgess did a good job guarding a very quick guard in Jones.
Small Forward: A
Despite finding himself in foul trouble, BYU's consistent guard Lee Cummard came up with some big points late in the game and ended with a game-high 25 points on 8-13 shooting from the field. He was huge from the three-point line, going 3-4 from the arc. Consistent Cummard also pulled down eight boards for the Cougars. Down the stretch, he hit some tough turnaround shots as he was defended by a smaller guard in Jones. Without the play of Cummard Saturday, the Cougars wouldn't have extended their road streak to three wins. He continues to play consistent basketball for Dave Rose and the Cougars.
While Cummard was a huge factor in the win Saturday, he also led the team with four turnovers and got himself into foul trouble again. Typically when he finds himself in foul trouble, Cummard does not contribute as much, but Saturday was a different story. Late in the game, it appeared that he was going to get his fifth personal foul when he jumped on Jones late in the game from the three-point line. The call was never made and it could've been a big turning point in the game.
Power Forward: B
Jonathon Tavernari scored 10 points and pulled down 10 big boards in BYU's win Saturday, marking the first double-double for Tavernari in his career. While he shot 4-14 from the field, his 10 boards were crucial for the Cougars, as BYU was trailing in team rebounds at halftime to a much smaller team. Due in large part to Tavernari's 10 boards (a new career high for him), the Cougars were able to outrebound the Cowboys 37-30.
Recently some people have called Tavernari the X-factor for the Cougars. This is a statement that one could argue strongly for or against. I personally believe that Cummard is the X-factor for the Cougars. Tavernari is a great addition when he plays well, but he is much too inconsistent. This is probably why people call him the X-factor. Cummard is consistently a great asset to the Cougars, so people take his skills for granted. Without Cummard, there is no way that the Cougars are 6-1 in conference play at this point. With this being said, Tavernari played well Saturday and was a major contributor for the Cougars.
When Wyoming's 7-foot big man Mikhail Linskens got two quick fouls in the first half, Trent Plaisted should've dominated and taken it straight at the Cowboys. He did not do this and he struggled from the field, going 5-13, but did end the game with 17 points and was 7-11 from the free-throw line. Late in the game he hit four straight free throws, and these points proved to be big for the Cougars. Nailing seven free throws in the game marked the highest free throw count for Plaisted since December 8 against Michigan State, when he was 8-16 from the charity stripe.
The Cougars' bench scored seven points against Wyoming. Jimmer Fredette had a trey in 22 minutes of play and went 1-5 from the field. Chris Collinsworth added a layup on a great backdoor cut and Chris Miles had a nice layup. The Cougars need to get more out of the bench and Fredette needs to get it going offensively in games like this when both Burgess and Cummard are in foul trouble.
Coach Rose is now 6-0 against Wyoming since becoming BYU's head coach. He designed some great plays for the Cougars Saturday, and the players capitalized on them. One particular play was a three-pointer designed for Cummard at the end of the first half. Cummard came through a strong screen set by Collinsworth. Cummard knocked down the open look and took the Cougars into halftime with a lead, the 18th time this season the Cougars have led at the half. When Burgess and Cummard got their fourth fouls late in the game, Coach Rose decided to put in Archie Rose. Archie was not in sync with the rest of the team. I don't think that he is ready for minutes in a close game situation. Coach Rose could've put in Collinsworth and moved Tavernari to the three or put Loyd in at the off-guard position (Jimmer already was in the game at this point). Coach Rose also had a good game plan for Wyoming, which was 0-15 from the three-point line. That must be recognized.
Next up: TCU at the Marriott Center on Wednesday, February 6 at 7 PM MST