PROVO — For the first time since an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 loss to Florida in New Orleans some two-and-a-half years ago, way back during the Jimmermania days, BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth played in a game Saturday against an opponent.
Granted, it was in an exhibition contest against Division III foe Colorado College. But playing under the lights at the Marriott Center took some getting used to for Collinsworth — who returned home from an LDS Church mission to Russia last spring — and some of his teammates in the Cougars’ 94-59 victory.
“In the second half, I finally felt like myself,” said Collinsworth. “I finally just played instead of thinking about everything because it’s been so long since I played. I relaxed and played my game and had a good second half.”
The sophomore from Provo turned in a double-double in his first official game back with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Collinsworth knocked down 6-of-13 shots from the field and dished out five assists in a team-high 25 minutes of play.
At halftime, Collinsworth had five points and five rebounds on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.
“The second half felt more like me,” he said. "I just played. When I just played, things fell into place.”
Guard Matt Carlino poured in a team-high 23 points for BYU. Guard Tyler Haws added 14, while guard Anson Winder scored 13 and freshman forward Luke Worthington had 10.
BYU scored the first 11 points of the game, then Colorado College went on an 18-8 run. The Tigers actually led, 24-23, in the game’s opening minutes.
But the Cougars jumped back ahead and the contest remained relatively tight until halftime. BYU led, 49-39, at intermission.
In the second half, the Cougars pulled away.
“We got a lot of players a lot of minutes,” Rose said. “It accomplished what you hope an exhibition game will accomplish for you In the first half we just didn’t play like we practice. What you want to do is establish those practice habits so when you get into the game you see them. That was the improvement we saw from the first half to the second That’s why we play these things, to improve and get better.”
In the second half, Collinsworth showcased elements he provides his team.
“He’s probably our most versatile player,” said Winder. “It’s good to have him back. He makes everything so much easier with all the things he does. He can shoot it, rebound, get to the rim, he plays defense. He’s going to be a guy that leads us this year. We’re going to depend on him a lot.”
Rose said Collinsworth’s transition from his mission is going well.
“He’s in a good spot. He’s a great rebounder. You saw that tonight,” Rose said. “The one thing we really want Kyle to do is to go out there and do what he does well. You saw a lot of that tonight. Eleven rebounds and five assists for a guy right back off his mission, those are things he does well and hopefully he’ll continue to improve on it The only way you’re going to feel comfortable again is to get out there in play. Experience is the best thing. He knows what it feels like, from a couple of years ago. Now you need to get to where you’re comfortable again.”
Rose also liked the contributions of his freshmen, including Worthington, Eric Mika, and Frank Bartley IV.
“You look out there at times, and there’s some pretty young guys playing,” Rose said. “I really liked what each of those guys brought to the game. They all played about 20 minutes. Frank brought some really good things defensively. Luke was really good as a physical presence in the post.”
The Cougars host Alaska-Anchorage next Saturday in another exhibition contest. BYU opens the season Nov. 8 at home against Weber State.
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