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Dick Harmon: BYU basketball comeback over Iona lingers as Marquette game awaits

Published: Thursday, March 15 2012 12:07 a.m. MDT

"Afterwards I chatted with Rose and he told me, 'You have to go in and tell them what you think will happen even though you know there's a pretty good chance it won't happen. You can't go in there and tell them other things."

Iona's star guard Scott Machado had nine assists in the first half and just one in the Gael's fateful second half. The national leader in assists, Machado said when BYU went to a zone defense and began playing aggressive, the blistering shooting Iona rode in the first half abandoned them.

"When we're not making shots, it's kind of hard to be able to press like we were in the first half. It's hard for us to get stops at that end because we're so small. I think the number was 34, [Hartsock], the one that was hitting all the shots."

Hartsock scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half.

"He was just shooting right over us," said Machado. "And his length was just — I mean, it was hard to guard. And when we're not making shots, we can't press him. We couldn't do what we did in the first half. So it messed up our whole game plan."

Iona made 5 of 10 from distance in the first half when they scored 55 points. But the Cougar defense rattled the Gaels after that and they made just 1 of 15 the rest of the game.

There couldn't have been two more opposite halves of ball like Iona had.

"I feel they were pressuring more in the zone," said Machado. "It wasn't just like a steady zone, just sitting in the zone. They were pressuring the ball. They were making it hard to get in the lane and make passes into the interior."

Machado, a future NBA draft pick and one of 15 finalist for the John Wooden Award, took responsibility for shying away from BYU's defense.

"I take full blame for driving in the lane and not being able to get the ball to my man, to my teammates, and, I mean, I had five turnovers and one assist in the second half. And I feel like I could have done a better job at that."

Hartsock said BYU's experience with the zone all year gave the Cougars confidence in defending Iona in the final 20.

"We were just trying to be active. We started getting our hands on loose balls and tipping it. We just started getting that momentum and confidence. That's what helped us make those runs. And we were just being really aggressive as a team. And when we get in that mode, we become a team that's hard to stop."

The Cougars play Marquette on Thursday and Golden Eagle coach Buzz Williams told the media on Wednesday BYU's win over Iona was one of a kind.

"I've never seen anything like it in all my life."

Williams said he was at his hotel and the game was wired to his room and he was eating chips and sipping a soda. "Man, I was a basket case watching that game."

Williams had a lot of company who had the same experience.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

twitter: Harmonwrites

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