BYU basketball report card: Cougars man up, suffocate San Diego

Published: Sunday, Jan. 5 2014 10:32 a.m. MST

Jeffrey D. Allred

PROVO — Now that’s more like it.

Mark down Jan. 4, 2014, as the day the 2013-14 BYU men’s basketball team discovered “defense." It's the idea that if a team tries hard to stop the other team from scoring it improves its chances of winning.

If the Cougars’ New Year’s resolution was to improve defensively, they got off to a stellar start. BYU suffocated the San Diego Toreros, 87-53, at the Marriott Center Saturday night.

Sure, the Toreros (9-7, 0-3) missed some open shots, but the Cougs made sure they didn’t attempt very many. In securing its first West Coast Conference win of the season, BYU (9-7, 1-2) held San Diego to 34.5 percent shooting, including 2-of-11 from the 3-point line. The Cougars also severely out-hustled and out-rebounded the Toreros.

Skyler Halford, starting for the first time in his BYU career, scored 28 points in 26 minutes, but it was his head-first dive after a loose ball at midcourt that symbolized what this game was all about for the home team.

Playing a respectable opponent in front of its home crowd for the first time since Iowa State visited Provo on Nov. 20, BYU made a statement of resolve, toughness and team play with its 34-point annihilation of San Diego, a team that earlier lost by just a single point to No. 21 San Diego State.

In making this statement, BYU coach Dave Rose and the Cougars sent a message to Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and the rest of the WCC that they better not write off these Cougs just yet. These cats still have some fight left in them.

Here are the grades for each BYU 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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MacNasty
Rexburg, ID

One word that describes BYU's turnaround game play: HALFORD!

Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA

I watched San Diego miss a lot of shots that were barely contended. How do you tell the difference between San Diego having a bad night and BYU playing good defense? Hustling more isn't really defense.

Is it more blocked shots? no.
Is it more steals? no.
Is it more defensive rebounds? no.

I have some Ute friends that totally believe Utah shut down Haws and BYU through defense and yet when we watched the game I saw BYU missing a lot of shots they normally would have made and pointed them out to my friends. They don't buy it, they think Utah hustled more than BYU (looked true to me) and the positive emotions for Utah created a Utah defensive shutdown of BYU. True or not?

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