PROVO — With a little more than one minute remaining in the game Wednesday night at the Marriott Center, and with BYU’s starters sitting on the bench, seldom-used walk-on guard Andrew Johnston banked in a 3-pointer to push the Cougars to the century mark.
Overall, it was that kind of night for BYU, which walloped Prairie View A&M, 100-52, in its final tune-up before visiting archrival Utah Saturday.
The Cougars (8-3) shot a scorching 61 percent from the floor — including 68 percent in the second half — and held the Panthers (2-7) to a dismal 29 percent shooting from the field.
“Those games can go a lot of different ways sometimes,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “I thought we had 40 minutes of pretty good execution on both ends of the floor. That’s a good sign, coming off a tough game (last) Saturday.”
Rose was referring to last weekend’s 105-96 setback to No. 22 UMass. Needless to say, defense was a point of emphasis this week in practice.
“Our players came out with a real focus tonight,” Rose said about his team’s defensive mindset. “The most encouraging thing is, this is coming from the guys. It’s coming from within. They know what we need to do to become a better team. I thought we really improved tonight.”
“We set a goal for the game today during shootaround that we were going to hold them to a certain amount of points,” said guard Anson Winder. “I think we did that as a team. We guarded them the way we wanted to guard them.”
The Cougars got a bit of a scare when Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws were both banged up in the first half. Both returned to the game.
“He took a pretty good lick, but he feels OK,” Rose said of Haws. “We’ll see how he feels in the morning, but we’re optimistic that he’ll be all right.”
Haws hit his first five shots, including three 3-pointers, en route to 19 first-half points as BYU opened up with a 23-10 lead. Haws did not score in the second half.
Kyle Collinsworth also scored 19, while Eric Mika chipped in 15 and Winder added 11.
Rose was pleased with the way his team shared the ball, as BYU recorded 27 assists on 35 field goals.
“That’s our style of play,” Winder said. “We’ve always had the mentality of sharing the ball.”
The Cougars also knocked down 10 of 14 3-pointers, including 4 of 6 by Haws and 3 of 3 by Winder.
But the Cougars’ goal Wednesday was to get better defensively. In the second half, BYU held Prairie View A&M scoreless for an eight-minute stretch.
“After UMass, and giving up (105) points, we spent a lot of time on defense and taking pride in getting stops,” said forward Nate Austin, who pulled down 11 rebounds and had four assists and four steals. “Even when we were up by 20 points, we were focused in on getting more stops.”22 comments on this story
The Panthers made just 4 of 27 3-pointers, including 0 of 9 in the second half.
BYU led by as many as 54 late in the game.
The Cougars take on the Utes at the Huntsman Center Saturday (8 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).
NOTES: Announced attendance was 15,194. Haws' streak of 30 consecutive free throws made ended Wednesday. He’s shooting 87 percent from the line this season. BYU had 14 assists on 16 made baskets in the first half.