PROVO — Share the ball, make the extra pass and hit the open shots.
Coach Dave Rose has been preaching those words to his BYU Cougars all season, but even more so in the past couple of weeks. In BYU's 81-68 win Tuesday night at the Marriott Center over Arizona State, those were definitely the ingredients to getting revenge on the same Pac-10 team that spoiled the Cougars' upset bid a year ago in the Valley of the Sun when officials ruled a put-back basket at the horn came late.
"We played at the right pace, with the right energy, and were on attack most of the night . . . that's a really, really good team win, especially for this time of year," Rose said.
The Sun Devils (6-3) were giving up only 56 points per game, and the Cougars (7-1) hit 44 percent of their shots against a team that came into the game holding opponents to 37 percent shooting. But most importantly, of BYU's 25 baskets, 19 came from an assist. In the first half alone, when BYU took a 16-point lead into the break, 10 of the Cougars 13 baskets came from an assist.
"I thought several times guys were open, but there we guys that were more open," junior guard Jackson Emery said. "And that right there is the key to winning, is playing as a team and not playing for yourself, and when it's your turn to hit the shot, hit it."
Those impressive offensive numbers came despite an uncharacteristically cold shooting night from leading scorer Jimmer Fredette, who missed his first eight shots and finished the game making only 1-of-13. Jonathan Tavernari also missed his first six shots and finished hitting 2-of-8.
But everyone else combined to shoot 22-of-36.
"I was pleased with how we got so much contribution from so many people," Rose said. "We've kind of talked about the depth of our team, and tonight it really showed."
Emery, who hit 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range, and freshman Tyler Haws finished with a team-high 17 points each. Noah Hartsock added 13 and Fredette finished with 10. Haws also grabbed a team high 11 rebounds, five on the offensive glass.
"I believe we have a full team that can step up from any position and I feel like we did that tonight," Emery said.
Even though Fredette and Tavernari had an off-shooting night, both contributed to the win in other ways. Fredette still made 8-of-8 free throws and dished out six assists. Tavernari had four assists, five rebounds and hit two crucial shots late after the Sun Devils had cut a 20-point lead down to four, and he iced the game by making 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes.
"They did a great job of kind of frustrating Jimmer and JT offensively, but we had other guys step up and make plays," Rose said.
The Cougars took their first lead at 10-8 on a 2-and-1 by Hartsock. With a 7-0 run, which included a trey by Haws and a hammer dunk by Brandon Davies, they stretched the lead to 19-12. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Emery and a layup by Hartsock pushed the margin to 27-16. And when Haws drilled another 3-pointer at the horn, the Cougars led 39-23 at intermission.
When Fredette scored four straight at the 17-minute mark, the Cougars were up 48-28. From there, however, the Sun Devils warmed up from the corners and began getting to the free-throw line and slowly inched back. After missing all five 3-point shots in the first half, Arizona State made 8-of-15 from deep in the second half. And after Derek Glasser, who scored a game-high 22, made four straight free throws the Sun Devils cut BYU's margin to 64-60 with four minutes remaining.
But Haws then hit a put-back jumper and Emery drilled his fifth trey from the right corner to push the margin back to nine. Tavenari then sealed it with four free throws.51 comments on this story
"We went through a spurt when we didn't hit a couple of shots and they got a lot of confidence, but they're a great team and they're going to make runs," Emery said.
Note: When Jimmer Fredette hit two free throws with just under 17 minutes remaining, it gave him 33 straight makes from the charity stripe, breaking BYU's old mark of 32 straight free throws held by Michael Smith. Fredette went on to make his next two free throws and has now made 35 straight. As a team, the Cougars have made 37 of their past 39 free throws.