PROVO Dave Rose wanted to see more ball movement out of his BYU squad. He demanded more teamwork and less of the individual stuff this week after a disappointing loss at Boise State on Saturday.
On Thursday night, Rose got Swiss movement-like sharing of the ball in a 91-62 blowout of Loyola Marymount, the last team to beat the Cougars at home in the debut of Rose's coaching career at BYU.
At times, it looked like the Cougars were playing with a hot potato as they primarily ignored the inside game and feathered in a barrage of treys, moving the ball around the key, inside and out with decent precision.
Led by junior forward Lee Cummard's 18 points, the win lifted the Cougars to a 11-3 record while the Lions dropped to 3-12.
"We did a good job of sharing the ball," said Rose. "I think we had opportunities for a lot more. Some we didn't convert on. Comparing how we played the other night, we got back to sharing the ball."
The 33 3-pointers attempted by the Cougars tied a school record as BYU's win extended the nation's longest non-conference, home-court win streak (39), a figure shared with Memphis, who also won Thursday.
"That number (33) may have been more than we'd like as a general rule, but depending on how a team guards us, we have good shooters and get good spacing and that's our offense," Rose said.
How good was the pass game? The Cougars had 12 field goals on 10 assists in the first 20 minutes and finished with 21 assists leading to 29 field goals.
"The better team by far won tonight," said Loyola Marymount coach Rodney Tention. "BYU is a great team and we give them a lot of credit. The Lions were led by Orlando Johnson's 19 points. The Cougars outshot the Lions 43 percent to 37 percent.
Cummard finished the game with 6-of-12 shooting and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line with 6 rebounds. BYU's season scoring leader, Trent Plaisted, had 12 points in 23 minutes.
The game had plenty of passing highlights. Most came with Jonathan Tavernari touching the ball. The sophomore, who came off the bench, had three steals and triggered the break multiple times resulting in easy Cougar buckets.
After missing his first two shots Thursday, which followed a 1-for-9 effort in Boise, Tavernari hit his next two treys in the game.
Rose started Tavernari the second half and he responded with three more bombs, plus an easy bucket off his own steal to finish with 17 points. "We had open shots, we weren't making them. As a staff, we decided to go with our best offensive players in the second half, and that's why Jonathan was out there," said Rose.
After picking Jon Ziri, Tavernari led a break down the court at the 13:51 mark of the game, flipping the ball to Cummard, getting it back, passing it over to Ben Murdock, who quickly found Sam Burgess for a wide open 3-pointer to put the Cougars up 49-31 after they led 35-26 at the half.
BYU then limited the Lions to just four field goals from the 10:58 mark to 7:17, building up a commanding 77-43 advantage.
"Defensively, the intensity was a lot more consistent throughout the game than we had the other night against Boise State," said Rose.
During that stretch, sophomore center Chris Miles got tangled up with Tim Diederichs going for a loose ball and the Lion forward got called with a technical foul. A few minutes later, Miles took a missed 3-pointer by Jimmer Fredette and slammed it home with a two-handed dunk that brought the biggest reaction of the night from the crowd and BYU's bench. The Cougars led 77-43 on that play.
"The more big plays you can make, the more confident you get," Rose said. "That's a hustle play, based on effort, desire, and a lot of times those are the type of plays, if you can rely on that from the bench, it really gives the entire team some energy."
Tavernari's effort was solid after he'd been struggling with a shooting-touch slump. He knocked down 6-of-13 shots, going 5-of-10 from the 3-point line. He had 8 rebounds to go with his 17 points and two assists.
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