PROVO It didn't really matter that BYU was nationally ranked or that Weber State had never beaten the Cougars at the Marriott Center.
This was, after all, an in-state game.
The Wildcats scrapped and clawed, and even outscored No. 20 BYU in the second half. But the Cougars had too much firepower, claiming a 72-57 victory Wednesday night.
BYU led by as many as 22 points midway through the second half, but Weber State cut into that deficit before falling by 15.
"Weber State's a team that's not just going to go away," said Cougar center Trent Plaisted, who scored 14 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had five blocks. "They fight hard the whole game. It's a credit to them that they didn't give up when they were down by as much as they were. They battled us hard and they stuck it to us in the second half."
With the win, BYU improved to 7-1 while Weber State fell to 2-5. The Cougars are now 17-0 all-time at home against the Wildcats.
While Weber State outscored the Cougars 36-30 over the final 20 minutes, BYU was in control most of the way.
"The in-state games have a whole different feel," said Cougar coach Dave Rose. "Defensively it is more aggressive and a faster pace and because of that, these in-state games are good to play."
Weber State coach Randy Rahe was impressed by what he saw from the Cougars. "They are a fantastic team," Rahe said. "There is a reason that they are ranked 20th. We just got done playing Illinois and this team (BYU) is better than Illinois."
BYU wasn't pleased with its offensive performance, however. They shot 42 percent from the field and just 29 percent (7-for-24) from 3-point range. In the second half, BYU was 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.
"Offensively, I thought we were a little sporadic tonight," Rose said. "I thought (Weber State) did a really good job getting back defensively in transition, sending three or four back. We weren't making the 3-point shot as well as we are capable of shooting."
BYU, meanwhile, held Weber State to 33 percent shooting.
"I think our defense was what kind of saved us," said Cougar guard Sam Burgess, who finished with a game-high 16 points. "Our defense kept us in it and gave us that lead. Our offense was a little stagnant, but we kept getting stops. I think that was the story of the game. Our defense outpowered their offense. We scored enough points to win, but we were a little shaky there."
Up next for the Cougars is a matchup against No. 9 Michigan State, Saturday (2 p.m.) at Energy Solutions Arena.
Burgess insisted his team wasn't taking Weber State lightly in light of its upcoming showdown with the Spartans. "The coaches make sure that we don't look ahead. For some of us, this Weber State game is a big game," he said. "For me, I was playing against friends and people who recruited me. Yeah, it's hard, but we looking forward to those games, but this was a big game for us, too."
Plaisted scored BYU's first six points of the second half and was a force all night in the paint defensively, swatting away a handful of Weber State shots. "Trent gave an phenomenal effort," Rose said.Besides Plaisted and Burgess, BYU had two other players in double figures Lee Cummard (14 points) and Jonathan Tavernari (14 points).
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