Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — For weeks, BYU coaches and players had been hounded by the same haunting questions about a prolonged 3-point shooting slump.
On Saturday, the Cougars promptly hit their first three 3-point attempts in the game's opening minutes to race to a 12-2 lead over Pepperdine.
For the game, BYU knocked down 12. That's after making just 17 of its previous 101 attempts, over a six-game stretch.
So much for that slump.
Maybe it was the midweek bye and the chance to rest their legs that made the difference for the Cougars.
For the Waves, their early deficit turned into a tsunami — falling behind by as many as 46 — in BYU's 86-48 rout Saturday before a crowd of 19,008 at the Marriott Center.
Late in the game, most of the Cougars' starters were sitting on the bench, watching the reserves continue the onslaught — as all 10 BYU players that entered the game scored at least three points.
Senior Charles Abouo recorded a double-double, pouring in a game-high 23 points — including five 3-pointers — and pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds. Just as impressive was that he committed zero fouls.
By contrast, not one Pepperdine player scored in double-figures.
"I'm really happy for our guys," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "I think the players worked really hard, especially this past week with a bye. We practiced well and guys put in extra time. It paid off. Not only individually did we play well, but as a team."
"When you get into a good rhythm, that's when you start making shots," said freshman Damarcus Harrison. "In practice, we've been focused on shooting with confidence. That's the big thing we did today. Everybody stepped up and shot with confidence."
Pepperdine was rendered helpless.
"It was tough. They shot the ball well and that is something that they haven't been doing recently," Waves coach Marty Wilson said. "We wanted to challenge them to shoot well. They hit some early and they got momentum and it became contagious. The crowd got into it and it was hard to stop the bleeding after that."
Winder and Abouo combined to hit five 3's over the first 10 minutes of the contest. After scoring 16 unanswered points, BYU seized a 31-7 advantage.
"Every shot feels the same. When we shoot them, we expect them to go in," Abouo said. "Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. It felt good tonight to come out and have a good start. … It's usually a lot easier to get going when the first one goes down. We got a lot of the shots the coaches wanted us to get tonight. … Everyone was unselfish."
Over the past several games, Abouo has been plagued by early foul trouble. He didn't commit a foul on Saturday, something the coaches emphasized with him this week.
"Charles wasn't in foul trouble, so we had a chance to play him multiple minutes," Rose said. "His time has been chopped up the past three or four weeks and it's hurt the flow of his game. It was nice to be able to leave him out there for big chunks of time. It really helped us."
With the win, BYU improved to 21-6 overall and 9-3 in the West Coast Conference while Pepperdine dropped to 8-17 and 2-12.
The Cougars have now won three consecutive games as they get set for three straight road games.
"We feel like we're getting better every day. We've got one mindset — to win. That's the attitude throughout the whole team," Abouo said. "We've just got to keep it rolling. We've been getting better all season. But this is the time to capitalize on that momentum."
BYU led 46-25 at halftime, but didn't let up in the second half. The Cougars opened the second half with a 21-4 run. That spurt included four more 3-pointers, including two by Abouo, one by Matt Carlino and one by Craig Cusick. At that point, BYU led, 67-29.
In the waning moments, seldom-used guard Nick Martineau buried a 3-pointer to put the Cougars up by 46 — 85-39.
BYU visits San Francisco on Thursday (8 p.m., MT, ESPNU).
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