Because I was unable to watch the game because it was not on TV, or even listen to much of it on the radio, I do not believe it is fair to give grades out. I noticed how hard it is to critique the playing performance of players when you only read a box score after the BYU win against TCU last week. I felt that I would rather just talk about the stats that each player had.
BYU is now in sole possession of first place in the MWC and is certainly in the driver's seat to win the conference outright. A win this Saturday at home against UNLV will go a long way in helping the Cougars clinch their second consecutive conference championship, as the Cougars lead UNLV by a half game at this point.
Every Cougar starter scored in double digits for the first time this season. That is an impressive statistic.
Point Guard Play
Ben Murdock had a career high point total Wednesday with 13. That is the first time that Murdock has scored in double digits in his BYU career. Without seeing any film or highlights, I'm going to go out on a limb right now and say that this was the best game of his career. He had 13 points, six assists, and only one turnover. Based on Murdock's box score, he could've had another three points. He's usually nails from the free-throw line, but he was 1-4 from the line on Wednesday. Stats like these are going to make us forget real quick that I was calling for his head midseason.
Shooting Guard Play
Burgess contributed 10 points on 4-10 shooting. That is a lot of field goal attempts for Sam. He usually is in the 5-to-6 shot range per game. From the looks of the box score, it looked like Burgess had an average game. While he did score in double digits, he did shoot the ball 10 times. One thing that does need to be noticed is the fact that the MWC's leading scorer, Marcus Walker, went 2-18 shooting from the field and ended with seven points. I'm sure this was a combined defensive battle to guard him, but Burgess probably was a contributor in guarding Walker. If Burgess guarded Walker the whole game, his defense alone would make this is a great game.
Small Forward Play
Even without watching the game I can tell you that Lee Cummard was consistent on Wednesday. One statistic will tell me that. Most of you are thinking the 22 points that he scored Wednesday would be that statistic. Yes, that is helpful, but the stat I'm talking about is the 9-15 shooting from the field that he brought to the table. Those are some terrific percentages from the field. Cummard is making a strong push to be the MWC Player of the Year. If he does earn that honor, it would be the second straight year that a Cougar would win the league's most prized award (Keena Young won last year). Cummard had eight boards, and five assists Wednesday as well. As the defensive stopper for the Cougars, he probably spent some time running down and defending Marcus Walker as well. I wish I could've seen this game, if not for the only reason to see what Cummard was going to do next. The guy is a freak and I've enjoyed watching him play this season.
Power Forward Play
Maybe the most surprising statistic in the box score from Wednesday was that Jonathon Tavernari only shot the ball six times and still ended in double digits. I might have to check my sources on this one because I have a hard time believing this was the case. While I am kidding, I still have a hard time believe that he only shot the ball six times. I guess if you count his four free throws, he shot 10 times. Alright, enough kidding about Tavernari firing up the ball. From the box score, Tavernari looked like he had a strong game Wednesday. He had his second double-double in three games (both have been with 10 points and 10 boards). Pulling down 10 boards is always a great statistic in college basketball, especially for Tavernari, who plays the 4 at 6-feet-6-inches and does not have much of a vertical. If you watch him closely though, you will notice that he gets a lot of tip and touch rebounds, meaning he will get his hands on the ball and somehow figure out a way to pull it down. It's a pretty impressive thing. He must do it at least once or twice per game. I don't know exactly how he played Wednesday, but I can tell you that from the box score I am willing to give him a J.T. fist pump that we have learned to love this season.
Trent Plaisted did not miss a single attempt from the field Wednesday; he was 9-9. He did, however, miss four free throws, going 3-7 from the line. I think the most impressive stat in the box score was seven-footer Stuart Creason shooting 10-10 from the free-throw line. I wonder if he could give some tips to Plaisted. I know the NBA scouts would be impressed. Plaisted ended the night with 21 points and five boards in only 22 minutes of play. He was in foul trouble, so he was replaced with Chris Miles at times. Miles ended up fouling out. Trent going 100 percent from the field is pretty impressive, and so is scoring 21 points in 22 minutes.
The bench didn't get much playing time Wednesday with the exception of Chris Miles, who replaced a foul-troubled Plaisted. Jimmer Fredette only got seven minutes and Chris Collinsworth got 12, and neither scored. Starters must've been too good out there Wednesday.
Next up: Possibly biggest home game of the year for BYU, Saturday the 16th at 7 PM vs. UNLV. It is a WHITE OUT for all fans attending and it will be televised on CSTV for all those national followers out there. Should be a good one and I encourage anyone in the Provo area to attend. Kevin Kruger of the Rebels' Sweet 16 team last year - and son of UNLV coach Lon Kruger - said, "BYU versus UNLV is becoming one of the biggest west coast college basketball rivalries in the country. They're both very good programs. It's a fun environment." I encourage you to go support the Cougars on Saturday.