It was terrific strategy: Get the 7-foot-6 guy in foul trouble, forcing BYU to put a 6-10 backup on high-scoring San Diego State 7-footer Marty Dow.
The Aztecs executed it to perfection, Dow drawing an offensive foul that sent Shawn Bradley to the bench with three fouls less than six minutes into Thursday night's game.In came Y. sub Gary Trost, and on SDSU's next possession Dow tossed in a short hook that looked ridiculously easy.
Faced with playing more minutes in a half than he usually plays in a game, here's how the WAC's best backup center responded to the pressure: He scored the Cougars' next eight points, outscored Dow 15-14 and outrebounded him 8-2, and blocked three shots, all before halftime.
Trost finished with a team-high 19 points, and 13 rebounds, as BYU thrashed the Aztecs 75-55 before 18,000-plus in the Marriott Center.
In the post-game interview room, things got a little mushy as Bradley praised Trost's deeds and Trost gave Bradley much of the credit.
"I love Gary to death," Bradley said. "He's a hard worker and a hard-nosed guy. Sometimes I wonder if the right guy is backing up the right guy."
"I wouldn't be where I was without Shawn," Trost said. "He's made me a better player."
SDSU Coach Jim Brandenburg expressed some surprise at how much better. "Trost came in and didn't miss a beat," he marveled. "He kept them in it."
On the other end, Dow did his best to keep the Aztecs in it, scoring 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field, but he got no support. At halftime no other Aztec had scored more than two points, and SDSU's second-leading scorer for the game was Arthur "I-never-met-a-shot-I-didn't-like" Massey, who scored seven while making just three of 13.
Trost got considerably more help than that.
BYU guard Nathan Call turned up his offensive game a notch in the second half, scoring 10 points in the period for a season-high total of 14. He also had five assists.
And Y. forward Steve Schreiner, the basketball equivalent of a football team's offensive line,slugged it out in the anonymity of the trenches for 18 points and 13 rebounds. Brandenburg made a change in his starting lineup in Schreiner's honor, opening the game with 6-10 freshman Joe McNaull on the 6-7 BYU senior instead of 6-6 Vern Thompson. Schreiner and McNaull weigh about the same, but Schreiner's weight is more, well, centralized, and McNaull got into early foul trouble trying in vain to keep Schreiner out of the paint. In fairness to the overmatched McNaull, his successors weren't any more successful.
Bradley, meanwhile, ended up playing just 13 minutes and scoring four points, matching the season low he established against LaSalle on another night when he was in foul trouble. What hurt Bradley this time was some championship "flopping" by Dow. Don't know what "flopping" is? Here's how Webster's would define it: flop-ping: 1. The trick, turned into an art by Bill Laimbeer of the Detroit Pistons, of appearing to have been hit by a Greyhound bus any time one is touched by a defensive player.
Keep in mind, now, Dow weighs 240 pounds and Bradley maybe 205.
All "flopping" aside, BYU took control of this game early, gaining a 23-12 advantage halfway through the first period and refusing to let the Aztecs come much closer than that. The Cougars led 40-28 at the half, and SDSU never got the lead under 10 again.
The victory puts BYU at 8-3 in the WAC (14-10 overall), still in second place and in pursuit of the first-place Utes. The Cougars' next game is Saturday in the Marriott Center against Hawaii, which lost to Utah Thursday night.
GAME NOTES: SDSU backup center Mark Pollard of Mountain View High in Orem made a brief appearance but didn't score, or even shoot . . . Reid is no doubt grateful to have Trost around to play center while Bradley is on a mission, but he said it doesn't console him completely. "When he (Bradley) goes, I'm going to be crying for two years."