BYU men's basketball: Cougars set to host Pepperdine

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10 2013 8:16 a.m. MST

BYU players talk on the bench during the second half of the NCAA basketball game between the BYU Cougars and the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Marriott Arena, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

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PROVO — One of BYU's unsung heroes in last Saturday's dramatic victory at San Francisco was senior guard Brock Zylstra.

Going into that game, Zylstra had made just 2 of his previous 17 3-pointers. But against the Dons, while forward Brandon Davies' playing time was limited due to foul trouble, Zylstra knocked down 3-of-4 3-pointers.

All three baskets from 3-point range came in the first half, keeping the Cougars close in a contest that saw them fall behind by double digits.

"It felt good. It was a long time coming for me," Zylstra said Tuesday. "A lot of my shots felt like they were going in the last few games but they were just a fraction off and went in-and-out. So it was frustrating at times. But you've just got to keep shooting. They fell at a good time for us."

Zylstra, who finished with a season-high 16 points — and recorded seven rebounds and two steals — is looking to build on that performance Thursday (7 p.m. MST, BYUtv) when the Cougars host Pepperdine.

"For us, for the (coaching) staff, (Zylstra's play) was just tremendous, because he not only contributed by how we played, but he was really effective, really efficient in how we executed, how he scored, how he rebounded, how he passed the ball," said coach Dave Rose. "He became a real vocal leader for us. That can really help us."

Saturday's win was a good sign for the Cougars, showing they could win without Davies.

"A few of us stepped up," Zylstra said. "Craig (Cusick) hit a big shot, and Matt (Carlino) played well with Brandon out. We don't like to play without Brandon, but it was good for us to know that we can get a win when our main player is sitting on the bench."

Davies, who fouled out with four minutes remaining in the 80-76 victory, scored a season-low six points in 17 minutes at San Francisco.

"It was a great win for us. We had guys step up for us," Davies said. "When guys aren't playing as good as they’re capable of, it's nice to know others can step up. … It's encouraging to see that our guys will battle for you, whether you're in there or not. That's the group of guys we are. It doesn't matter who's in there, everybody's going to give it their all and fight."

"We've won in different ways," said Cusick. "Our team's figuring out different ways to win, which is good."

Pepperdine is led by forward Stacy Davis, who averages 11.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, and guard Jordan Baker, who averages 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Last week, the Waves fell to Gonzaga, then came from behind to defeat Portland. Freshman walk-on guard Austin Mills saw his most action of the season against the Pilots and responded by scoring a career-high eight points in 14 minutes.

"For a freshman who hasn't played a whole lot, he's got a great feel for the game and a huge heart," said Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson. "He's not afraid to fail and that's why he succeeds. He makes great plays. He's very good on ball screens, he's very unselfish and makes great decisions."

With another big road game at Santa Clara coming Saturday, the Cougars aren't overlooking the Waves.

"Any team in this conference, you've got to be careful, because any team can go out and beat anybody else on any given night," Cusick said. "We're super-focused. We're looking at Pepperdine and not looking past that because they're a great team and really well coached. We're looking forward to it."

NOTES: BYU has won five consecutive games against Pepperdine, dating back to 2003. … The Cougars haven't lost to the Waves since an overtime defeat at Pepperdine in 2002. … Last season in Malibu, Davies had 29 points and six rebounds against the Waves.

Cougars and Waves on the air

Pepperdine (9-6, 1-1) at BYU (12-4, 2-0)

Marriott Center

Provo

7 p.m. MST

TV: BYUtv

Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM

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