LAS VEGAS — In BYU's two previous losses, the Cougars were never out of the games until late.
But in Saturday's blowout in Las Vegas, the Cougars were in deep trouble early and didn't respond well to the unfamiliar territory. Even two quick timeouts called by coach Dave Rose and a media timeout couldn't stop UNLV's barrage and right BYU's ship.
"We missed too many shots early," Rose said. "And I felt because we didn't score for awhile that we got discouraged and then we didn't compete."
But Rose gave a lot of the credit for BYU's tough early struggles to the way UNLV played.
"They weren't just good the first 10 minutes. They were good the whole night," he said.
Before Saturday's 88-74 loss to UNLV, the Cougars had only trailed by double digits once this season — when they fell behind by 15 at Utah State with 55 seconds remaining. On Saturday, the Cougars trailed by almost double that even before the half.
"They did a great job of putting it on us in the first half, and we couldn't come back," guard Jimmer Fredette said.
The Cougars did close to within 13 points five minutes into the second half, but missed shots several chances to trim the lead further and never got closer that the final 14-point margin.
"The bottom line when you get down like that is to try to make your team stop trying to score 10 points in one possession," Rose said. "You want to catch up, and these guys are really competitive and they believe they can catch up and they played that way. But there were a lot of possessions where we were just in too big of a hurry and were not ourselves."
The Cougar coach is confident his team will learn from Saturday's humbling loss.
"We've all played this game for a long time, and we've all been in games like this," Rose said.
SIXTH MAN: When Jonathan Tavernari offered to sit to start games, he was hoping to make big contributions off the bench.
On Saturday, Tavernari's reserve role was the bright spot in a disappointing loss.
"I think JT gave us a real good spark," Rose said. "He made a couple of baskets, gave us some energy and helped us play better defensively."
In 33 minutes, Tavernari scored 16 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
"That's kind of the point of me playing the sixth man," Tavernari said.
TROUBLES IN THE POST: With freshman Brandon Davies out after Wednesday's appendectomy, the Cougars continued to struggle in the post. Starting center Chris Miles didn't take a shot, had only two rebounds and was hampered early with three quick fouls. Reserve James Anderson scored two points and had one rebound, but committed three fouls in only one minute of playing time.
GAME NOTES: Saturday's critical game at the Thomas & Mack was a sellout, with 18,557 in attendance. The last time the Rebels sold out their home arena was when UNLV played BYU last year. … The Cougars had only 12 assists on 24 baskets, while UNLV had 24 assists on 32 baskets. … The Rebels were playing without regular starter Derrick Jasper, out five weeks with a knee injury. … UNLV now leads the all-time series 17-14, and the Rebels have defeated the Cougars seven consecutive times at home.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company