BYU, Utah basketball report card: Utes show Cougs some Love(ridge) in dominant program-elevating win

Published: Sunday, Dec. 15 2013 12:25 a.m. MST

Matt Gade, Deseret News

Jordan Loveridge, the best player in the state of Utah. Check.

The Utes, the best team. Check.

Before its game against Utah, BYU had played the likes of Iowa State, Wichita State and UMass, who are all currently ranked in the top 25. The Utes looked better than all of them in a dominating 81-64 victory over the Cougars Saturday night.

College basketball can be a strange game. The Cougars were coming off a 48-point thrashing of Prairie View A&M. The Utes were coming off a game against Idaho State that they had to rally to win.

There was no rallying needed for Utah in this one, as the home team led big from start to finish. It was a perfect storm for the Cougars. All their weaknesses seemed to show at once, just as their in-state rivals were playing out of their minds.

Just about everything that could go wrong for BYU did Saturday night at the Huntsman Center: missed free throws, foul trouble, lack of depth, lack of quickness, toughness and passion on defense, and wild play from Matt Carlino.

Meanwhile the Utes, much to the delight of the energized home crowd, validated a number of things with their blowout win of the Cougars: their early season record, their rebuilding strategy, their head coach and their largely unheralded group of players.

It was a tremendous victory for the Utes.

Here are the grades for each team's position group and other aspects of the game:

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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Louisiana Cougar
Pineville, LA

Grades seem to be right on target!

BYU must figure out how to play smarter, tougher, and with greater defensive urgency. They got schooled by a team that outplayed them at every turn. The Cougars showed no fight and could not respond to a tough atmosphere or to the pressure of a big game.

BYU was not prepared to play and the game was over before the first media timeout.

Bountiful, UT

With BYU missing so many free throws, the score is a little deceiving, but I thought the difference in the two teams boiled down to Utah's wing players being longer and more athletic. BYU had a lot of difficulty getting good shots, and Utah's defense just seemed to smother them.

Loveridge, Wright, Tucker and Onwas can all defend positions 1-4, and together they dampen passing lanes, cut off driving lanes and extend to contest what normally would be open shots.

Utah has great flexibility on defense and can very often just switch, which takes away the pick-and-roll and makes it tough to exploit mismatches.

If these two teams played a 10 game series, I think Utah wins 6 or 7 of those games. They're just a better team, because of the talent Larry has recruited.

salt lake city, UT

Seems the Utes can lose the Utah County recruiting battles and do just fine.

Salt Lake City, UT

Bountiful, UT

"With BYU missing so many free throws, the score is a little deceiving..."

Really? How so? Do you propose giving byu all the points they missed at the charity stripe because...well...just because? Do the math...byu still loses.

Who's fault is it that byu can't play defense?
Who's fault is it that byu can't achieve a respectable number of assists?
Who's fault is it that byu acts like the concept of a free throw is completely new to them?

Utah was in the dumpster two short years ago and probably has a ways to go before they are competitive in the Pac-12 (we'll see soon). Add to that the soft schedule byu fans can't stop talking about...byu basketball just looks really, really bad.

Bakersfield, CA

Probably the most disappointing game BYU has played in some time. They were so intimidated by the crowd! you could see fear in their eyes!

Mormon Ute
Kaysville, UT

BYU's basketball teams have struggled defensively under Coach Rose. He allowed Jimmer to get away without ever developing any true defensive skills and now he is floundering in the NBA. Coach Rose needs to focus a little more on defense, if he wants a championship caliber team. He has talented players, but they need to know how important defense is.

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