Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — BYU's home-opener couldn't have started any better Tuesday night.
First, a Mountain West Conference championship banner representing the Cougars' 2011 title in their final season in the MWC was unfurled in the Marriott Center rafters prior to tipoff. Then BYU promptly scored the first 13 points of the game and raced to an early 23-3 lead against BYU-Hawaii.
From there, the Cougars (1-1) cruised to a 73-52 victory over the Seasiders (0-1), a Division II opponent.
Junior forward Brandon Davies was dominant, which had a lot to do with BYU's fast start. He hit his first six shots from the floor and scored 14 of the Cougars' first 21 points.
Davies finished with a career-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting to go along with nine rebounds in 28 minutes of play.
"Before the game we talked about playing on attack, so we focused on getting up and down the floor and getting the ball inside," said senior forward Noah Hartsock, who scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. "Brandon started off really well and he got us going. Defensively, we were able to play together as a unit. That helped us get a big lead early."
Davies got off to a slow start in the season-opening loss at Utah State and he made it a priority not to let that happen again.
"I've kind of struggled in the first half, getting going," he said. "I tried to make sure I was ready today and started off strong. Fortunately, I made some shots out there … We were trying to get over our first loss. I felt like that was a great way to do it. The only way to do it is to play strong in your next game."
Hartsock added that the Cougars need Davies to play like that in every game this season.
"That's going to be a huge key to our success," he said. "If he starts scoring early, that's going to open it up for the rest of the team."
"Brandon was terrific to start the game," said coach Dave Rose. "Brandon knows this team needs him … This team, and it happens every year, guys have to be assigned roles and other players realize the role they need to play. Noah and Brandon both understand that we need them to be very good early until the rest of the team comes together."
BYU led by as many as 26 points (40-14) in the first half and was ahead 40-17 at intermission. The Seasiders shot an abysmal 19 percent (6-of-31) from the floor in the first half.
In the second half, BYU-Hawaii played much better and outscored the Cougars, 35-33.
"I really thought the first 15 minutes of the game were very, very good. Hopefully we can build on that," Rose said. "The disappointing thing was, that was probably our best 15 minutes of the game. What we need to do is sustain success and play within ourselves. We turned the ball way too many times. As a whole, I was pleased with the way we played and I was happy with the win."
BYU turned the ball over 22 times but outrebounded the Seasiders, 51-31.
BYU-Hawaii guard Jet Chang, the preseason Division II player of the year, was held scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game. Chang finished with 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
"He's a really good player," Hartsock said of Chang.
Going into the game, Rose challenged his players to limit Chang's scoring. "Whoever had him, it was tough for him," Rose said of his team's defensive effort. "I thought our guys did a good job on him."
For the Seasiders, former Lone Peak star Bracken Funk scored seven points on 3-of-15 shooting while Christian Covey, a Timpview High product, added five points.
BYU-Hawaii coach Ken Wagner said it took a while for his team to find a rhythm.
"I thought BYU came out and did a great job defensively. I don't know that we were ready. We missed a couple of early shots and then started taking bad ones. The second half I think our guys came together. After that start, it's tough."
The Cougars host Longwood Friday as part of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
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