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BYU basketball report card: Pepperdine crashes Cougars' hopes with startling win

By Nate Gagon

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31 2013 4:46 p.m. MST

MALIBU, Calif. — The Pepperdine Waves weren’t good enough to beat the San Jose State Spartans or the Cal State Fullerton Titans earlier this season, or to even compete versus Washington State; but they were plenty good enough to beat the BYU Cougars, 80-74, Monday night.

On Nov. 23, the Waves beat Utah Valley University by five in a close game and a little more than a month later the Waves beat BYU by six in a game they led virtually from start to finish.

Even Utah Ute fans didn’t see this coming for the Cougs.

Utah State Aggie fans must be wondering how they lost to these guys.

In its loss to Pepperdine, BYU’s stat line looked startlingly similar to many of its other boxscores this season: Nate Austin and Eric Mika were in foul trouble (both fouled out); points lost at the foul line (65.5 percent); 3-point threat minimal (1-of-11 shooting); Tyler Haws doing precious little besides shooting (one assist again); Luke Worthington recording no stats except a foul; strange minute distribution (Skyler Halford with 23, Josh Sharp with 16, Matt Carlino with 19, Austin with 18, Anson Winder with just four), etc.

Maybe Utah’s scheduling strategy is the way to go after all. It seems the non-conference schedule took quite a toll on the Cougars.

Here are the grades for each BYU position group and other aspects of the game.

BYU GUARDS

Haws is an excellent free-throw shooter, and now and then he is an incredible shooter from the field. In regards to being a complete player, however, Haws has been a disappointment so far this season.

He is averaging 34.2 minutes per game and only 1.2 assists. For a guy that touches the ball as much as he does his assist number is almost unfathomable. Haws also struggles mightily as a defender.

Carlino, who was largely considered the second-most important player on the team at the start of the season, has fallen off. Carlino played only 19 minutes against Pepperdine, and he made just 1-of-7 shots, had two assists, a rebound, a steal and three turnovers.

Again, Kyle Collinsworth had the best overall stat line for the Cougars with 13 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, two blocks and 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. His two major weaknesses this season remained constant, however. He made only 3-of-6 free throws and turned the ball over three times.

Earlier this season in consecutive games versus Iowa State, Texas and Wichita State, Halford played merely a combined 12 minutes. Against Pepperdine Monday night he played 23 minutes. While Halford has been fairly effective in his minutes this season his sudden fluctuation in playing time is indicative of BYU’s inconsistency and struggles.

Winder and Frank Bartley IV combined for just 16 minutes and had little impact in the game.

Overall, the Cougars’ guards took 54 of the team’s 67 shots. Of those 54 shots they made only 20, including just 1-of-10 from long distance. Collinsworth’s seven assists were more than the rest of the guards combined.

Grade: D-

BYU BIG MEN

To be a good team, BYU needs a lot more than it is getting from Austin. He has fouled out in three straight games and has been limited by foul trouble in just about every contest. His five fouls against Pepperdine came in just 18 minutes.

In his minutes on the court, Austin has been playing progressively worse as the season has gone along. No doubt foul trouble is in the back of his mind and is affecting his play on the court.

Mika also fouled out against Pepperdine and is averaging nearly as many fouls per game as Austin (3.3 versus 3.6). In 27 minutes Monday night, Mika had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks. He again cost the Cougars at the foul line, making only 2-of-4.

Like Halford, Sharp has suddenly seen his playing time skyrocket. Sharp didn’t even play against Iowa State, Texas or Utah State, but logged a season-high 16 minutes versus Pepperdine. While there must have been a reason Sharp wasn’t playing much earlier this season, the fact he is now playing significant minutes is a clear sign that things are not going as expected for the Cougs.

Grade: D+

BYU COACHING

Coach Dave Rose is searching desperately for a way to find the heart of his team. It is clear the two players Rose has the most trust in are Haws and Collinsworth, who sat out for only a combined four minutes versus the Waves. It has been that way virtually all season for Haws and Collinsworth, except in blowout wins.

Meanwhile, Rose seems to have lost, or is losing, faith in several other players. He can’t trust Austin and Mika to stay out of foul trouble. He played Halford more minutes Monday than he did Carlino. Bartley’s minutes were cut to 12. Worthington has proven to be a major liability when he gets minutes and continues to slide toward the end of the bench. Winder, for whatever reason, has not had Rose’s trust much of the season and still does not considering he played just four minutes against Pepperdine.

Rose is struggling for answers and his team has clearly lost its confidence.

At this point, Rose needs to be careful not to lose valuable players long-term. The Cougars have no seniors on the team. All these guys should be back next season. Rose needs to start thinking about making sure the struggles and lack of confidence from this season to not get so bad that they carry over to next season as well.

The Cougs need some serious improvement and coaching on defense.

Grade: D-

PEPPERDINE WAVES OVERALL

The Waves knocked down an awesome 13-of-24 shots from the 3-point line versus the Cougars. That was the difference in the game.

Pepperdine’s front court combined for nine blocked shots.

Outside of 3-point shooting and blocking shots, however, the Waves were not particularly impressive. They had 15 turnovers and only 14 assists. They gave up 18 offensive rebounds to BYU. They made only 15-of-23 free throws (65 percent) and 13-of-34 2-point field goals (38 percent).

Guard Malcolm Brooks was the man for the Waves, making 8-of-12 shots, including 6-of-9 from long distance. He had 24 points and did not turn the ball over. Guard Amadi Udenyi was a major difference-maker off the bench as well, hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers and dishing five assists in just 17 minutes.

Perhaps the most discouraging thing for BYU is that Pepperdine did not even have to play a great statistical game to win.

Grade: B+

CROWD

Many people have more Facebook friends than the total announced attendance in this game.

If there’s one positive for BYU losing these West Coast Conference games, maybe it’s the fact that hardly anyone is there to see it. On the other hand, that has to be kind of an insult added to injury in some ways.

Grade: F

Nate Gagon is a published sports, music, and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free throw line and can be reached at: nategagon@hotmail.com or @nategagon.

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