PROVO — The BYU Cougars and the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils made Tuesday night's blizzard look mighty toasty in comparison to the shooting that took place inside the warm and cozy Marriott Center.
The number of shots early from both teams that clanked off the rim and failed to draw iron or net had a chilling effect that made most of the first half difficult to watch.
Fortunately for BYU, the Cougars survived the cold-shooting storm with outstanding defense and eventually heated up for an 86-36 blow-out win. The victory comes in Game 2 of the South Padre Island Invitational, which continues on Friday and Saturday when the No. 23 Cougars travel to the Texas resort island to face South Florida and either Texas Tech or Saint Mary's.
"All in all I was pleased and I'm looking forward to the next game," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
The Cougars (4-0) came out as cold and as out-of-sync as they have all season, missing their first five shots and playing overall sloppy offensive basketball. Their first basket came four minutes into the game and they made only 2 of 13 in the first 12 minutes. They also turned the ball over seven times during that span.
"Offensively, we played well in spurts," Rose said. "We got off to a really slow start and we had six or seven turnovers in the first eight minutes, but we did a better job later in the game of making easier plays and not turning the ball over."
The Delta Devils were even worse. They missed their first seven shots, hit only 2 of 24 before banking in a desperation shot at the halftime buzzer, and turned the ball over 14 times in the opening half.
Mississippi Valley State (0-4) also went more than 12 minutes in the first half without a basket.
"I thought defensively it might have been as good of performance as we've had in a long time from a group. I thought we were consistently challenging shots and we made it really difficult for them when they drove. I thought our post guys were really active. We attacked penetration and just made it really hard for them to get a good look at the basket," Rose said.
On a night when All-American guard Jimmer Fredette was a little off on his shot (7 of 16) his Cougar teammates picked up the slack. Leading 12-7 with eight minutes left in the opening half, the Cougars ran off 25 straight points to turn a tough-shooting night into a rout in a hurry.
"I think we did a terrific job (in the stretch) of finding the open guy," guard Jackson Emery said.
Fredette started the run with a three. After a 2-and-1 from Noah Hartsock, Emery turned the temperature up with three straight threes. Nick Martineau followed Emery's 3-point turkey with a bomb of his own.
"You play this game long enough that you know eventually the shots are going to start dropping," Emery said.
The Delta Devils closed to within 37-10 at the half when Jason Holmes tossed a runner in off the glass at the buzzer. Mississippi Valley State shot a dreadful 12 percent in the first half, while the Cougars eventually reached the 37 percent mark.
The Cougars remained on attack to open the second half while Mississippi Valley State continued to struggle. When Brandon Davies scored six straight BYU led 45-12. A 12-0 BYU run, which included two buckets by Fredette and a 2-and-1 by Kyle Collinsworth, gave the Cougars a 43-point lead five minutes into the second half.
"Finally we got the ball in the post and those guys were able to score for us and get things going," Emery said.
The high point for the Delta Devils came when Ricky Lamb and Kevin Burwell hit back-to-back threes to close within 37.
The Cougars finished the game with mainly reserves on the court, but continued their defensive dominance and offensive improvement — extending the lead to a final margin of 50. The Cougars, frankly, wore down the road-weary Devils as the game progressed.
"That's what we do to teams. When we get stops and run, we're very hard to run with," Davies said.
Fredette led a balanced BYU attack with 16, Emery scored 15, Davies added 13 and Hartsock 12. The Cougars finished the game shooting 39 percent, while Mississippi Valley State hit only 25 percent of its shots. The Cougars also outrebounded the Delta Devils 57-40, and forced 25 turnovers and had 13 steals.
GAME NOTES: Cougar forward Chris Collinsworth left Tuesday's contest six minutes into the game with a sprained ankle and did not return. His status for Friday's game against South Florida will be determined after the sprain is graded today. ... The 10 points the Delta Devils scored in the first half ties a BYU record for fewest points allowed in a half ... Emery, with five steals Tuesday, has nine steals in the past two games ... BYU's next eight games are away from the Marriott Center.
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