PROVO Sam Burgess and Jonathan Tavernari munched apart Idaho State's zone defense with a barrage of bombs in leading BYU to a 90-69 win Wednesday night in the Marriott Center.
Burgess scored 18 while Tavernari and Trent Plaisted added 17 each to lift the Cougars (2-0) to their 32nd straight home win heading into Friday's home game against Jackson State.
BYU's bombers took advantage of Idaho State's game plan to clamp down on junior center Plaisted. Whenever Plaisted got the ball, the Bengals applied the vice around the Cougar. Burgess had 16 points in 18 minutes as BYU shot 12 of 25 from 3-point land for the game.
"You have to do that," said ISU coach Joe O'Brien of his collapsing zone. "Because if you let Plaisted get his hands on the ball inside, you can't stop him."
The Bengals had only 6-foot-10 Lucas Steijn with any size, O'Brien said, and he needed to protect him in the zone.
"For a shooting guard, that's always your dream," said Burgess.
BYU coach Dave Rose said his staff was elated with how players shared the ball in the win.
"I felt the intensity of the game early on was good because we came out early and defensively put on a good presence," Rose said.
"That's always been a strong point of our program," said Plaisted. "We get a lot of guys who can shoot the ball. It makes it a hard game for me because of that zone, packing it in, but Sam and J.T. were knocking down shots."
The game opened up like a repeat of BYU's drilling operation at Long Beach State. The Cougars took a 17-3 lead over the Bengals in the opening eight minutes.
"It was important for us to get that first outside shot by Sam to go down because that spreads out the zone and makes it easier for our post players," said Rose.
That was evident with BYU's power forward Tavernari, who then began to shoot over ISU defenders with his outside and mid-range jump shot.
"When you have a guy at the four spot who can step out and hit shots like he can that puts hurt on your zone," said O'Brien.
Burgess buried all four of his four first-half treys. Then Ben Murdock and Tavernari joined the act. The Cougars shot a blistering 8 of 15 from beyond the 3-point line to race ahead 44-25 at the half.
The Cougars came out the second half with Plaisted and Tavernari scoring 12 of the first 14 points and led 63-41 after freshman Nick Martineau knocked down his first 3-pointer of his career and Plaisted slammed home a dunk.
Idaho State, which trailed by 17 a year ago after the Cougars led 42-29 at the half and got it to overtime, made its only big run in the second half in a 16-7 stretch and cut the Cougar lead to 55-41. Chron Tatum led the Bengals with a 20-point effort. Matt Stucki added 10.
The Cougars outscored Idaho State 30-14 in points in the paint and 23-13 on points off turnovers. BYU led 18-2 in fast break points.
"We should have had more and we should have held them to less," said Lee Cummard, who had 10 rebounds and a double-double with 13 points. " I just tried to get Sam the ball."
"I was surprised they stayed in that zone," said Cummard. "Especially with with how big and physical they are, I was a little shocked by that. But I wouldn't want to guard Plaisted one-on-one in the post."
Exiting the press interview room afterwards, Plaisted told reporters, "You guys didn't know how pure I was at the free throw line."
Indeed, the center who has struggled at the stripe, an air ball at Long Beach last Saturday, converted 7 of 8 free throws.
Of particular note was BYU's passing against the Bengals. On 31 field goals, the Cougars had 24 assists.
"They shared the ball," said Rose. "It's the personality of our coaching staff, they spend hours with those guys on their individual shooting but the system we run. We give up one shot for a better shot. We're always talking about one more pass, one more pass. Tonight we did a good job of doing one more pass."
Rose said his team did have too many peaks and valleys, especially in the second half.
"We'd like to play a second half where more consistent," he said.When asked how BYU compared to Iowa, a team ISU held to 58 in the Bengal road opener, O'Brien said, "I think BYU is a better team right now than Iowa. They are further along, they have a very solid defense ad on offense they spread you so much inside and outside and are very physical."
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