BYU Beats AFA, Wins 46th Straight At Home

In front of 17,000+ fans, BYU ran Air Force out of the gym Saturday (76-57) and showed why the Marriott Center is the toughest place to play in the country. The home winning streak reached 46 games behind Trent Plaisted's 20 points. He was too much for the undersized Falcons and BYU's plan was to feed the ball inside and let him go to work. The Cougars improved to 12-2 in the MWC. Grades are in.

Point Guard: B-

In Ben Murdock's return to the floor after an ankle injury that caused him to sit out the second half and overtime of the UNM game, he was able to knock down one wide-open three and pulled down a couple of rebounds. Murdock missed a cripple layup in the lane after a great pass from Jonathon Tavernari. Ben has proven to be a good passing and defensive point guard, but is not an offensive threat at all. He was 1-5 Saturday and missed a couple of wide open shots, including the cripple layup. Ben did have four assists to his one turnover, but it was his poor performance shooting the ball that brought his grade down.

Shooting Guard: B+

Sam Burgess knocked down three three-pointers Saturday, going perfect from the field and ending the game with nine points. He also contributed five rebounds and once again added a defensive presence. The Cougars have become arguably the best defensive team in the MWC Conference, and one of the big reasons is because of the improve play of Sam Burgess and Ben Murdock defensively. They are so sound defensively and do not get beat because of fundamentals.

Small Forward: B

Lee Cummard had 10 points, three blocks, three assists and eight rebounds for the Cougars. Lee was 2-6 from the field and 1-1 from the three-point line. I would like to see Lee get more shots off, but he is such an unselfish player and knows that the key to beating an undersized Air Force squad goes through the post. It's hard to say with these numbers that Lee was not spectacular Saturday, but being that he is the frontrunner for the MWC Player of the Year, you will hear criticisms like this.

Power Forward: B+

It will be on the highlight film at the end of the season. If the game was televised, it would be a top-10 play on ESPN. The BYU student body went crazy after it happened. After being double-teamed and losing the handle, Jonathon Tavernari threw the ball behind his head to a wide-open Trent Plaisted, and Trent threw it down for a thundering slam dunk. The pass showed the great court awareness that JT has demonstrated recently, as he has found his teammates continually for open looks.

In his 23 minutes of play Saturday, JT only shot the ball eight times and was 4-8 in those opportunities. He ended the game with 12 points and three rebounds, but it was his three assists that got the building bumping.

Center: B+

It's hard to want anything else out of Trent Saturday when he scored 20 points on 7-11 shooting from the field and 6-9 shooting from the free-throw line. The Falcons had no answer for Trent and every time the ball was entered into the post, it seemed as if Plaisted got a good look at the hoop. In the limited playing time he had Saturday because of the blowout, 20 points is very impressive. He also had a great dunk after the aforementioned pass by JT.

The Falcons had no size to guard Plaisted Saturday and Trent had a game-high five turnovers. This is the reason that his grade was brought to 'B+' range. His rebounds have come down as of late, but he has become more consistent from the free-throw line.

Bench: B

With the return of Ben Murdock to the lineup, Jimmer Fredette's minutes went down and he played more of the off-guard Saturday. In the mop-up minutes, Jimmer took care of the ball and boosted his box score getting himself 10 points on 4-6 shooting, including 2-2 from the three-point line. Jimmer made some really good passes Saturday that were either fumbled by the receiver or resulted in a foul. Therefore, his assists stats were not included.

Mike Loyd was impressive Saturday. He pushed the ball well, knocked down two three-pointers, dropped three assists and played solid defense. If Loyd can improve his offensive game over the offseason, he will be a solid contributor for the Cougars next season.

Chris Collinsworth was consistent again Saturday, as he pulled down seven rebounds off the bench and also contributed two points. He still hasn't been able to get his offensive game going, but he will as he focuses on that more once he returns from his mission. He has become a great addition for the Cougars this season because of his rebounding.

Chris Miles had a couple of nice moves and scored four points, but was for the most part a nonfactor.

Coach: A

Coach Rose's game plan to put the ball inside to Trent Plaisted was a big part of the reason the Cougars walked away with a 20-point win Saturday. The team defense the Cougars have played this season has been very impressive. While Air Force is a notoriously slow-moving offensive team, the Cougars still slowed down the Falcons' offense more. Another impressive win for Coach Rose and the Cougars.

Random Tidbits: After a frustrating night where Air Force couldn't get anything going against the strong BYU team defense, Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds got a technical foul at the 17-minute mark. I do not know why the student body likes Archie Rose so much. Every time the Cougars are up big and there is some spare time at the end of the game, the student body chants, "We want Archie." I could understand if a guy had been in the program for a couple years or had done something early in the season for the Cougars, but this is Rose's first year and he struggles a great deal. Saturday in his six minutes of play, Archie had three fouls, including a charge which took away his only opportunity to get into the box score. He missed the front end of a one-and-one and turned the ball over three times. Let me remind you this is against the Air Force bench players. Nick Martineau is currently not a Division I point guard. Maybe after a mission and some confidence he can compete at this level, but right now he cannot handle the ball or defend Division I players.

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