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Dick Harmon: BYU basketball: LMU exposes Cougars' defensive deficiencies

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 10:43 a.m. MDT

LOS ANGELES — Evan Payne, a freshman from Ohio, was the latest player to get a career high against BYU’s defense.

Payne scored 27 points, including 10 of 12 from the free-throw line, in leading Loyola Marymount to an 87-76 win over BYU Saturday.

The game underscored BYU’s defensive struggles this season. BYU has allowed Utah to score 81 points, Oregon 100 and LMU 87 in its three-game losing streak. So far, the Cougar defense has allowed career scoring games from Chasson Randle (Stanford), Chaz Williams (UMass), Jason Calliste (Oregon) and LMU’s Payne, the latest.

“We have a lot of issues,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “We have to get guys in the right spot and have guys contest. We are slow and late in some rotations and get taken out of position. We have to improve to compete in the league.”

LMU was hot early and its 17-5 start doomed the Cougars. One of the worst-shooting 3-point teams in the country, LMU had scored no more than six treys in a single game this season. But they went 8 for 17 from 3-point land against the Cougars.

“I thought Evan Payne played gutsy,” said LMU coach Max Good. “He’s a little live wire at times. Anthony Ireland had nine assists and only one turnover. Just a good team win. I mean, we had two freshman, Gabe Levin had 12 points and seven rebounds and Payne had 27 points. We’re playing without two starters. I don’t know anybody else in the country playing without two starters.”

“Obviously we didn’t come away with the win and that was the whole point,” said BYU freshman center Eric Mika. “We wanted to start out the conference with wins on the road, which we really needed, and we’ve now lost three in a row on the road.”

Mika said although the Cougars have been on the road the past three weeks, the effort at Oregon was good enough for a win. “We went really hard in practice the past 10 days. I thought we were prepared and then we came in and didn’t execute like we wanted to.”

The Cougars may have overlooked LMU after playing and almost beating Oregon, but Mike questions that.

“I like to think we don’t look past anybody, but it didn’t look like it the first 10 minutes.”

STOPPING HAWS: Good said he didn’t leave star BYU guard Tyler Haws unguarded — even when other Cougars had the ball. “Oregon held him to 32. We didn’t care if other guys scored on us. We wanted to know where he was at all times. He had an off-game. He’s a great player.”

LMU is ranked 14th nationally in free-throw shooting and shot 78 percent to BYU’s 65.

"This is a very good team (BYU)," said Good. "We did a good job of keeping their fast-break points down (11). They kill people with fast-break buckets. They’re really good. David Rose and Tim LaComb are two of my favorite coaches in the league. I took no great pleasure in beating them. I want to win, obviously. They’ve got a great program with very good players. "

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company