BYU Advances to MWC Championship Game

BYU fought off a strong Aztec effort Friday, winning 63-54 in the MWC semifinals. The win gives BYU its second consecutive MWC Championship appearance. BYU frustrated MWC First-Teamer Lorenzo Wade, allowing him only 10 points on 15 attempts and getting him into foul trouble early. Behind Trent Plaisted's 19 and Lee Cummard's 20, BYU will take momentum into the championship game. Grades are in.

Point Guard: C

While Ben Murdock did alright against the fullcourt press the Aztecs threw at the Cougars Friday, he ended the game with three turnovers and only three assists. He also had two points on poor free-throw shooting (2-5). Both these free throws came at the end of the game when the game was out of reach. Ben did handle the ball well and helped the Cougars, as they only had 14 turnovers Friday to their 13 assists. BYU is ranked 15th in the country in team assists, and that is in part to the way that Ben runs the offense. He wasn't perfect Friday but he handled the ball well enough to allow the Cougars to compete.

Shooting Guard: B-

Between Sam Burgess and Lee Cummard, BYU slowed down the Aztecs leading scorer Lorenzo Wade Friday. Burgess harassed Wade all night while he was guarding him, and as we have seen from Burgess all year, he was all hustle and played solid defense. We have seen Burgess play better offensively, but he still contributed four points on four knocked-down free throws. He only shot the ball three times, but none of them fell. Burgess lead the team with four turnovers to his two assists.

Small Forward: B+

Lee Cummard defended Wade exceptionally well when Sam wasn't guarding him, and took an early charge against Wade that ended up sending him to the bench in foul trouble. Lee ended with a game-high 20 points on 6-12 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line. While Lee did have four turnovers, he did have three assists and seven rebounds to help the Cougars get their 27th win of the season. Other than a couple of lousy passes and turnovers, Lee played very consistently and proved to the bystanders the reason he was the "MWC Co-Player of the Year."

Power Forward: B

Jonathon Tavernari ended the game with nine points on 3-9 shooting, but a solid 3-5 from beyond the arc. On one occasion JT forced a terrible attempt of a layup that did not hit the rim and allowed the Aztecs to get into transition and get a layup that gave them some momentum. JT was solid on the defensive side, as he pulled down 10 boards and did well with MWC Freshman of the Year Billy White. JT has proved this season that he is willing to do what it takes to "d' up" when called upon, and he did that again Friday.

Center: B+

Trent played well Friday, well enough to score 19 points, but he only pulled down three rebounds and allowed Aztec big man Ryan Amoroso to pour in 18 points. Trent did have a huge three-point play with about five minutes to go in the second half that basically put the Aztecs out of reach for the rest of the game. He was 8-13 from the field and 3-4 from the free-throw line. Trent needs to get to the free-throw line more when he is playing against a player like Amoroso. Amoroso has found himself in foul trouble all season, but Trent did not go hard enough at him. Trent was voted CSTV Player of the Game.

Bench: B

Chris Miles came in and gave the Cougars some big minutes, as he was 3-3 and ended with six points and one rebound in only nine minutes. I believe that with some coaching and some more time, Miles is going to be a very good big man. Thursday during the postgame show after the Cougars' victory over CSU, Greg Wrubell said he was hoping that Trent would come back and that Chris would redshirt next season so that we would have him for an additional two years after Trent is gone. I like the logic and hope that is the scenario Coach Rose puts together as well. Of course, that is all contingent on if Trent comes back or not.

Chris Collinsworth was slowed down Friday, having three points in 13 minutes after a double-double performance Thursday against CSU. Jimmer Fredette found himself playing the point guard Friday, having two assists and no turnovers in his 12 minutes of play. He was 0-4 from the field but had a great pass to Lee Cummard that Lee tried to dunk but got fouled and was sent to the free-throw line. Mike Loyd did not play Friday.

Coach: A-

You know that Cougar fans are getting greedy when a Coach gets an 'A-' after his 27th win of the season. Rose brought his team out ready to play Friday and gave them the strategy of how to beat the Aztecs: shut down Lorenzo Wade. Rose threw Lee Cummard and Sam Burgess at Wade, and they only allowed Wade 10 points on 15 attempts from the field. After the game, the Associated Press quoted Rose saying about Wade, "Lorenzo is such a versatile player. And the challenge we felt as a coaching staff after playing him twice is that he loves to post up, but he's not your typical post player because he has so many guard skills. He can back-dribble, he can get space, he's a great passer, he's really good at gapping people and drawing a little bit of help and then finding other people off a pass." Whatever it was that Rose and his coaching staff saw, the team did a great job of defending him. Let's go out and beat UNLV Saturday on their home court and get some great momentum going into the NCAA Tourney.

Next Up: MWC Tourney Finals: Versus: UNLV 5 PM MST

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