PROVO BYU's Austin Ainge lost his starting point guard role last year to Rashaun Broadus, but it appears, at least for the time being, the job belongs to Ainge again.
Starting in his second consecutive game, the senior scored 11 points, dished out a game-high five assists and knocked down three 3-pointers to help lead the Cougars to a 80-61 triumph over Southern Utah.
With Broadus struggling thus far this season, coach Dave Rose is happy to have a senior like Ainge to turn to on the bench.
"Austin's playing terrific," Rose said. "He's running the team well and did a good job tonight. Right now, he's in a situation where he's hitting shots. He's playing very relaxed out there and he's playing with confidence."
For Ainge, starting is no big deal. He started 23 games as a sophomore and four last season before Broadus, a junior college transfer, took over.
But Broadus has hit only 5-of-20 shots from the floor this season including 1-for-3 on Friday and has more turnovers (nine) than assists (eight). That's opened the door for Ainge to reprise his role as a starter.
"It's always a little easier to start," he said. "I'm a fifth-year senior, so hopefully I can contain the pre-game jitters. My job is to get the ball to the post guys."
Ainge, who went 4-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-4 from behind the arc against the Thunderbirds, successfully fed the ball down low to post players like Trent Plaisted and Keena Young. Plaisted scored a season-high 19 points, while Young chipped in 16.
Despite Broadus' struggles, Rose is glad to have two senior point guards on his roster.
"(Broadus) will be fine," Rose said. "He plays hard and it will just take some time."
Broadus started 26 games last season, averaging nine points and 3.7 assists per game.
Friday marked the debut of true freshman Jonathan Tavernari. The 6-foot-6 swingman sat out the first three games as a potential redshirt while a review of his two years of high school in the United States were being conducted by the NCAA.
Tavernari, a native of Sao Bernardo, Brazil, played seven minutes Friday and scored three points on 1-of-5 shooting from the floor."Jonathan was a little too excited tonight," Rose said. "He's a great addition to our team. He provides us with a good, physical presence. He'll really help our depth."