PROVO Jonathan Tavernari is back to his old tricks deftly staging shooting exhibitions, something he did very well a year ago as a freshman for BYU's basketball team and repeated in August's Cougar trip to France, where he led the team with a 21.4 scoring average.
Sure it was a glorified scrimmage, but this headache for MWC foes is back and he's stronger, quicker and even more confident he can score every time he touches the ball.
Tavernari dumped in a game-high 27 points to lead a trio of 3-point bombers to a 77-64 white team intersquad win over a blue team composed of BYU's only two returning starters, center Trent Plaisted and forward Lee Cummard, Wednesday in the Marriott Center.
"There's two things about tonight," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "First, that it's over. Second, it gives us some film to break down so we can continue to coach and improve this team."
Rose said he liked the effort of his squad going at one another in front of a crowd and under lights.
"But our execution needs a lot of work. We had a lot of possessions that we simply did not execute," he said.
The white team jumped off to a 9-5 lead on three consecutive Tavernari buckets, led 38-29 and never trailed.
Tavernari, a confident hair-trigger sophomore who earned MWC Freshman of the Year honors last year as the Cougar championship team's sixth man, knocked down 5 of 12 treys and converted 11 of 21 shots from the field, including a halftime buzzer beater. Senior guard Sam Burgess (16 points) went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, and Ben Murdock (8 points) added two 3-balls in the white team's 14-for-28 3-point-shooting exhibition.
Plaisted scored 19 points, and Cummard, who made 8 of 17 field goals, added 17 for the blues, who fell behind by as much as 17 points at 52-35 on a barrage of shots by Tavernari just minutes after intermission. A highlight for the blue team was the second-half play of MWC preseason freshman of the year Jimmer Fredette, who settled down after going 0-for-4 in the first half, then scored 14 straight points and push Plaisted and Cummard's team back in the contest.
Fredette's pair of free throws with 5:50 to play cut the white lead to 66-57.
"I always look for my shot, but I've got to be a better defensive player," said Tavernari. "Our team needs a lot of work getting better on defense."
Rose said Tavernari actually had struggled with his shot for more than a week in practice. "So it was pleasing to see him hit a few and get his confidence."
The triumphant white squad shot 51 percent throughout the contest, while the blue team, which kept feeding the ball to Plaisted, shot 45 percent. Plaisted, an All-MWC player, made 9 of 17 from the field, 1 of 3 from the line and had seven rebounds.
Even with Cummard and Plaisted, Rose said all starting spots are open and he hasn't settled on a point guard.
"Ben (Murdock) and Lamont (Morgan) showed how they can handle and direct the team. We'll be deciding a lot about playing time in days to come. We coached two teams tonight, and the next time we're out there next Friday we'll coach just one."
Rose praised the play of Fredette, who got it going in the second half, making 6 of 12 shots for the game but hit 6 of 8 in the second half.
"I also liked how Chris Miles played on offense. He might be the best post defender we have on this team, so it was nice to see him make some shots. Miles, back off an LDS mission in August, hit 11 of 21 shots for 13 points for the white team, including his only attempt at a trey.Provo freshman Chris Collinsworth, a 6-foot-8 forward, had nine rebounds, second to Tavernari's game-high 12.
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