Point Guard: B
With Murdock getting injured early in the second half, Jimmer Fredette got more minutes at the point guard position. Murdock had three points on 1-3 shooting and had three assists before he left the game for good with 18 minutes to go in the second half. Jimmer stepped up to play for Ben and played well. At different times you could see that Jimmer is a true freshman. He got a charging call because he didn't jump stop, but then he'd come down and give a great pass to a teammate for a bucket. Jimmer grew a lot Tuesday and gained a lot of experience in one of the toughest places to play in the country. He turned the ball over three times and had two assists, but he handled the pressure exceptionally well and got the Cougars into their offense. You cannot ask for much more from a freshman who has not seen a lot of time at the point guard position. He had a big steal at the end of regulation that could've turned into a game winner had Coach Rose not called timeout when Jimmer was wrestling for the ball on the ground; Jimmer ended up making a great pass to Chris Collinsworth that would've gone for a layup had Rose not called time out. I don't blame Rose, but it would have been great if the referee didn't hear him.
Shooting Guard: B+
Sam Burgess tied a career-high with eight rebounds Tuesday. While watching the game with some friends, we agreed that Burgess was the unsung hero. He knocked down 7-of-8 free throws and ended the night with 12 points on 2-6 shooting. He knocked down a three-pointer and played good defense, as he always does. Burgess played 41 minutes Tuesday, as Cummard fouled out and Murdock got hurt, so Jimmer had to play big minutes as well. Another good performance from the senior guard.
Small Forward: B
For the second straight game, Lee Cummard fouled out. He spent a lot of energy focusing on guarding one of the most athletic players in the MWC in J.R. Giddens. Because of this, Lee's offensive game took a hit. Lee ended the game with 14 points on 5-9 shooting while pulling down seven boards and dishing out a team-high four assists. It hurt the Cougars when Lee fouled out before overtime, as he has become their go-to guy down the stretch and is the best defensive player the Cougars have. When the game was on the line, Lee was on the bench. We have not seen this since the Las Vegas Invitational when the Cougars beat Louisville. Lee needs to be smarter defensively and keep himself in ball games. He's too good of a player to foul out of games consistently.
Power Forward: B
JT was pulling the trigger quick again Tuesday. He hit one shot that hit every part of the rim and backboard until finally going in. After Lee Cummard fouled out, JT was given the responsibility of guarding J.R. Giddens and he did a fantastic job. He denied him the ball and would not allow Giddens to get to the rim. I was impressed with how well JT guarded him. Late in overtime JT gave Giddens a cushion in which J.R. took a bad three-pointer and the Cougars got the rebound. This was the last possession that New Mexico had before Trent's two clutch free throws.
JT did not shoot the ball well Tuesday and his statistics depict that. He was 2-12, finishing with five points and three rebounds. Typically when JT plays like this the Cougars lose, as we have seen that Tavernari has basically become the x-factor for BYU. But the Cougars got some good minutes off the bench from Jimmer Fredette, and Trent Plaisted was huge down the stretch, so the Cougars could pull out a huge victory.
After the SDSU game when I gave Trent Plaisted a solid 'F,' he had a 180 degree change Tuesday, and he receives an 'A' after knocking down two clutch free throws with 5.7 seconds to go to give the Cougars a one-point lead and give the Cougars a victory. While Trent's statistics were not unbelievable, he did end with 23 points and six boards, and was 9-15 from the field. He also was 5-9 from the free-throw line, but the most important of his 23 points came with 5.7 seconds left in the overtime period. Down one, Coach Rose designed a play to get the ball to his big man in the post. Trent was fouled as he tried to get to the rack, and then knocked down two free throws to seal the victory. What an exciting victory for the Cougars, and it all came down to their big man in the middle that knocked down two very clutch free throws.
The BYU Cougars' volleyball team could've used the spike that Trent Plaisted showed Tuesday when J.R. Giddens came into the lane. Trent swatted his shot about two rows into the crowd. Then on the same possession as the shot clock was ticking down, Trent blocked a desperation Lobo shot that made the shot clock expire. The Mountain's announcers said, "This is my office and I didn't give you the keys, so stay out."
While Trent was the hero at the end of the game Tuesday, he missed a couple of easy shots. On one occasion, Trent missed a cripple right-handed layup, and then picked up a foul after trying to get the ball back. While Trent was not great in the first half (having only six points at the break), the thing that everyone will remember is the two big free throws he hit. Tuesday showed the leadership skills and the courage that Trent has, as he went in and swished two free throws.
Jimmer Fredette hit a three at the 12-minute mark in the first half. His next shot was an air ball pull-up jumper that the crowd would not let him forget for most of the night. Every time that he shot the ball or held the ball, the crowd yelled, "Air ball!" This slowly died off as the game went into overtime. Jimmer played a huge role in the game Tuesday, and while he made some mistakes, he also was very influential in the Cougars' victory Tuesday. He had a great steal at the end of regulation as he ripped the man he was guarding and recovered the ball. Jimmer then turned the ball over on the baseline on the next possession. Jimmer did have a big assist to Cummard down the stretch and he handled the Lobo pressure very well in a very difficult place to play. Jimmer ended with seven points on 2-7 shooting.
Chris Collinsworth missed the second of two free throws that would've ended up giving the Cougars the victory in regulation. To his credit, as a 41 percent free-throw shooter, Chris knocked down the first one to tie the game for BYU. He pulled down five boards and had five points.
Going into the Pit and coming out with a victory in the hostile environment it was Tuesday is a HUGE win for Coach Rose. I've never seen him show as much emotion as he did when he ran into the locker room with his hand up high in the air. Coach Rose designed a play for Trent Plaisted that allowed him to get to the free-throw line and Trent delivered. With Lee Cummard on the bench, I was curious to see who Rose would want to get the ball to, and he chose the leader in Trent Plaisted. He expressed his confidence in Trent and Trent came through. Great victory for the Cougs and Coach Rose.
Random Tidbits: Coach Steve Alford got a technical foul at the 6:17 mark in the first half and Lee Cummard hit two free throws. Ben Murdock landed on the foot of one of New Mexico's players and had to sit out of the game. The referees were giving J.R. Giddens calls all night long. There were numerous times where Lee Cummard, Sam Burgess and Chris Collinsworth got ticky-tack calls against Giddens. As Scotten Whaley has mentioned, the MWC referees seem to give the home-court team the advantage. Chris Collinsworth needs to stop flopping and play defense; he's not going to get that call every time he flops and he's giving up easy buckets.
Next Up: Air Force Saturday 7 pm at the Marriott Center. Come support the Cougars as they try to repeat as MWC champs.