LAS VEGAS Sam Burgess is peaking just at the right time for the No. 24 Cougars. They used his toughness and velvet outside shot to chase Colorado State out of the Thomas & Mack 89-62 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Mountain West Basketball Championship Tournament.
Burgess had the assignment of guarding the league's top scorer, Marcus Walker, and the former Lone Peak and Snow College star once again made a major impact, sticking to his man like industrial-strength flypaper.
Facing Burgess, Walker went 2 for 7 from the field. He finished 3 of 11, 1 for 5 from 3-point range for 9 points. In Fort Collins a few weeks ago, Burgess helped limit Walker to 2 for 18 for 7 points. That's a combined 5 for 29 in the last two meetings.
But that wasn't all Burgess did in BYU's blowout here. In 28 minutes, he made big shots, finished 4 of 5 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers. He scored 13 points and had 6 boards, 4 more than center Trent Plaisted, and finished with 4 assists and a pair of steals. The senior captain has scored in double figures in five of the last six games, averaging 11.8 average during that stretch.
"Sam is a tough defender and has always been tough and hard-nosed," said freshman Jimmer Fredette. "He's always defending the other team's best player."
Dave Rose praised the development of his senior, who he said has elevated his game the last 10 games and has now given the Cougars a fourth consistent double-figure scoring weapon.
"Sam has become a good technique defender because he's always been extremely tough, extremely competitive. But his technique has gotten so much better over the last couple of months. And he just did a great job of being there on the catch.
"We were switching a lot of screens. So, a lot of people had Marcus, but I think that you know, Sam has really become a lot more cerebral defensively. He's better with angles. But the other thing is he is playing with so much confidence. I think a lot of that has to do with how familiar he is with the players and then with his opponents and the scouting reports that our assistant coaches give to him. I think that gives him added confidence."
Rose also got a sterling effort from freshman Chris Collinsworth, who had 12 points and 10 boards in 21 minutes, his first career double-double and best scoring game of his career.
"He's our best rebounder for minutes played and I thought he had an outstanding game," said Rose.Another freshman, guard Jimmer Fredette made two of BYU's 12 3-point shots to finish with 9 points and 3 assists.
COUGAR NOTES: The Cougars shot a season-high 65 percent and set a school record for 3-point shots in a season (266) by going 12 for 20. The 27-point win was the largest margin of victory and best shooting percentage in tournament history. The Cougars are now 10-6 away from the Marriott Center and 22-1 when scoring at least 70.