Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
BYU's Sam Burgess drives up the middle for two points against Southern Utah Friday night in Provo.

PROVO — Apparently, Lee Cummard has high expectations for himself and his Cougar teammates.

A quick scan of the BYU junior forward's statistics — 12 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, five steals and two blocks — might lead some to think that he was pleased with his performance.

But after the No. 21 Cougars' 70-55 victory over Southern Utah (2-10) that extended the nation's longest active home winning streak to 38 games, Cummard was hard on himself — and his teammates.

"It definitely wasn't my best game," he said. "Defensively, I stood up too much, and I think the team as a whole stood up too much on defense."

And on offense, Cummard would probably argue his team had its struggles as well. Despite shooting 55 percent from the field, the Cougars (10-2) were bitten by the turnover bug for the second straight game. After turning the ball over 29 times against Pepperdine last week, BYU notched another 22 in the same category against the Thunderbirds.

"I think teams are starting to do some different things against us, and we're not doing a very good job adjusting to those things," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "It's really important for our team to come back after the break and improve on those things."

The Cougars built a 31-21 halftime advantage, but they couldn't seem to break out for a much bigger lead for almost the entire second half. Timely shooting by T-Birds Geoff Payne and Davis Baker — each with 15 points — kept Southern Utah within striking distance as late as with five minutes remaining.

But BYU's dominant inside presence and depth eventually wore down SUU.

Trent Plaisted — who began the game slow — finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Jonathan Tavernari led the Cougars with 19 points and also contributed six rebounds and a pair of blocks, adding to BYU's total of nine blocked shots to none for the T-Birds.

"Jonathan (Tavernari) was terrific. He really gave us an offensive lift. He was the one player that was playing with a lot of confidence, especially in the second half," Rose said. "The other guys were pressing a little too hard, but Jonathan was playing with a lot of confidence."

SUU coach Roger Reid recognized BYU's strength, especially a distinct in-the-paint advantage and deep talent off the Cougar bench, which outscored the T-Birds' reserves 31-10.

"Their size inside really hurt, and that was a big difference. They pose a great threat because they have great shooters, and they have a great inside presence and great depth," Reid said.

Reid, who spent a total of 19 years at BYU, including eight as head coach, took a stroll down memory lane after his team's loss.

"It was like I never left here. I spent most of my life here, and it was really like I never left," said the Springville native. "I have great memories of the young men I've coached here. I'm proud of what we accomplished here, and I have no regrets."

Another former Cougar was on the other bench in the form of Austin Ainge, who graduated just last year. Cummard said his presence was somewhat of a disruptive force for BYU.

"Austin knew everything we were running," he said. "Whenever we would call a play, we could hear him chirping on the bench about which play we were running."

BYU's Sam Burgess put in 10 points and grabbed five rebounds before fouling out. Southern Utah's Dave Marek finished with 11 points.

The Cougars play Boise State on Saturday, Dec. 29. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.


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