PROVO Trent Plaisted shook off an injured ankle and used his size and speed as a statement in leading BYU to a convincing 80-61 win over Southern Utah Friday night in the Marriott Center.
Perhaps the Texan is ready to make some noise as the Cougars now head on the road for three of their next four games.
Plaisted scored 19 points in 27 minutes and hauled down 12 rebounds to go with his pair of steals to lift the Cougars to a 3-1 mark. The Thunderbirds, who struggled against BYU's man defense for 90 percent of the game, dropped to 3-2.
"For the quick turnaround, playing Portland on Wednesday, then playing with one day's preparation against SUU, a completely different team, I liked the way this team executed our game plan," BYU coach Dave Rose said.
For the second straight game, Rose used senior Austin Ainge and the point, and the fifth-year senior responded with instant offense and piloted the Cougar attack to BYU's 17th consecutive home win.
The Cougars jumped to a 20-6 lead right out of the chute with Plaisted and Keena Young leading the charge.
Plaisted had 12 points in 15 minutes to start the game. After leading 41-23 at the half, the Cougars went on an offensive and defensive rampage, outscoring SUU 19-2 to lead 61-30, scoring on seven consecutive possessions.
Young finished with 16 and Ainge added 11 as the Cougars outshot the Thunderbirds 51 to 41 percent, making 33 field goals to 19 for SUU, a team averaging 72 points a game.
SUU got 11 points from Nurudeen Adepoju and Steve Barnes and knocked down 10 of 18 treys, seven of which came after BYU had built up a 31-point second half lead.
Plaisted, who has struggled to fight through double-team defenses this season and then sprained his ankle against Idaho State, said it was important for him to come out firing on all pistons. The big sophomore scored five of BYU's first six buckets.
"For me, it's really important to get involved early," Plaisted said. "When I do, I do pretty well throughout the game. If I don't score early, I still have to play hard throughout the game to be effective."
Plaisted said seeing double teams is going to be his regular diet every night and he has to find ways to score. He knocked down an 18-foot shot from the top of the key in the opening minutes.
"Trent's going to have to find ways to score and we've got to find ways to get him the ball and in position to do his thing," said Ainge, who had a game-high five assists.
Ainge liked the way BYU's post players fought for position and shot the ball. "I thought our post guys played with a lot of energy and gave us a big lift. When they play well, it opens up everything for us guards," said Ainge.
Rose said Ainge will have the starting point job until Rashaun Broadus finds himself.
"Austin's running our team really well. Tonight he did a good job. Really, right now he's in a situation where he's hitting shots, he is really relaxed. We'll stay with him for a while. Shaun will be fine. He plays hard, but he's trying to find his groove. This is why you have more than one point guard," Rose said.
Rose used a myriad of combinations against SUU because of the lead, but admitted his staff has spent a lot of time going over playing time and roles of players. He used freshman Jonathan Tavernari for seven minutes and the Brazilian went 1-for-5.
Sam Burgess, who came off the bench to score six points and dish out five assists equaling Ainge's total was a key spark with standout hustle, hitting two of five shots with three boards.
"Sam is a hard-nosed guy who is going to give you everything he has when he's on the floor," Plaisted said.The Cougars travel into WAC territory next week for a Wednesday game at Boise State. The Broncos beat SUU 77-68 last Saturday.