Points Aplenty for BYU

One reason No. 23 BYU has cracked the top 25 is because it's in the midst of an offensive explosion, averaging 96.6 points the last five games. In fact, BYU scored more in each of those games than in any of its first 12 games except the 107-point outing against Southern. And even then, BYU topped that by scoring 110 against Nevada, the most BYU has scored against a Division I team since 1995.

BYU has traditionally been a high scoring team under Coach Rose, but this current red-hot scoring tear is a far cry from how much the team struggled offensively at times during the last half of last season. Back then, the Cougars routinely shot ice-cold during the first half of many games – if not during the entire game.

But while this year's Cougars are still subject to scoring droughts, they are currently much fewer and farther between.

In addition to racking up points lately, the Cougars have been able to get up on their opponents from the get-go. That includes a 33-2 start against Eastern Washington, a 38-5 start against Nebraska, and a 33-11 start against Arizona.

"Well I think that we're shooting the ball really well, shooting the ball with a lot of confidence," said Coach Rose of why his team has been able to jump out to early big leads in recent games. "I think we're sharing the ball, so we're getting good shots. But probably the biggest reason is that I think we've been better defensively, especially rebounding the ball defensively, and that's kind of what starts our break … our post guys – Chris [Miles] and Noah [Hartsock] and Brandon [Davies] – those guys have just done a good job rebounding the ball and getting us started. Our guards are rebounding the ball well too."

Rose said that one of the team's main emphases in practice during the last three weeks has been rebounding, and noted that while it has paid dividends on both ends of the floor, the team still has a chance to be a lot better.

Improved defensive rebounding, in fact, doesn't mean the Cougars are playing defense at a high enough level. At times their offense has had to carry them. They gave up 104 points in the victory over Nevada, and didn't perform up to Rose's standards in the 99-69 road victory over Arizona.

"We won the [Arizona] game because we just consistently scored throughout the whole game," said Rose. "We had that little drought coming out at the half, the second half, but other than that we just were really good offensively. And so that was good enough to win that game, but defensively we had a lot of breakdowns. We gave up a lot of shots right at the rim that hopefully we can correct some of that."

"We were able to kind of break their spirit a little bit just because we scored, we just consistently scored," he added.

As the Cougars have lit up the scoreboard, they have set a number of records. The 110 points against Nevada were a record for a Rose-led Cougar team. The 91-34 victory over Eastern Washington set a new school record for margin of victory over a Division I team.

And then there was the Arizona game.

Jimmer Fredette's 49 points set a BYU single-game record, as did his nine three-pointers. He also set a new single-game scoring record in Arizona's McKale Center, and the 30-point margin was the most the Wildcats have lost by in that arena.

Fredette's scoring performance against the Wildcats was remarkable, but despite scoring all those points, he also chipped in an impressive nine assists. Factor in his seven rebounds and two steals, and it's safe to say that it was a good night for the junior point guard.

"Well I just think the way that it happened was the best part of it – the fact that it was on the road, it was in a really good place, a traditionally [tough place to play]," said Rose. "So you're looking for things for confidence, for confidence for players, confidence for your team, and I don't think that … any of us game planned for Jimmer to score 49. But that's how it turned out and we were able to go on and win the game, and it all happened kind of in the flow of our offense, so I think that's probably more significant that the number of points or the records or anything like that."

The Cougars' nine-game winning streak has included some other impressive things worth noting. BYU beat Nebraska 88-66 after the Cornhuskers had only given up 55 points per game up to that point, and beat Eastern New Mexico 95-49 last Saturday despite missing leading scorers Fredette (21.6 points per game) due to strep throat and Jackson Emery (13.4 points per game) due to a bruised heel. It bears noting that Eastern New Mexico is a Division II team, but it was nevertheless a good sign that other players – including some off the bench – were able to help carry the load and score 95.

"I've said it all along that I think our bench is really strong, but our bench needs to be more consistent," said Rose.

One of those key bench players is Jonathan Tavernari, who of course began the season as a starter before volunteering to give up that spot following some struggles on the court. Aside from his 15-point performance on 6-of-7 shooting against Eastern New Mexico, Tavernari hasn't been much of a scoring factor during the Cougars' recent impressive string of high scoring games. That BYU has been so efficient offensively despite one of their preseason All-Conference players struggling is impressive, and should Tavernari start playing consistently at a higher level, then the Cougars will be even more dangerous.

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