LAS VEGAS — Second chances helped send BYU into the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament. The Cougars crashed the boards and came out big in a 64-58 victory over TCU.
A 17-2 advantage in second-chance opportunities proved to be more than enough to get the job done.
"That's the one thing we talked about at halftime," said forward Noah Hartsock, who grabbed five offensive rebounds. "Our shots weren't falling so we talked about just crashing the offensive boards, getting the second chances for our team, and when we started doing that, it really turned the tide and really helped us out."
BYU trailed 34-33 at the break and was outrebounded 15-11. Hartsock noted that TCU came out ready to play and the Cougars needed to match the Horned Frogs' aggressiveness in the second half.
"We needed to find ways to win and that was the key tonight — just get the offensive boards and get us second chances," he said.
The plan worked. By game's end, BYU wound up with a 33-25 rebounding advantage. Charles Abouo and Kyle Collinsworth each had eight, while Hartsock pulled down seven.
The intensified board work offset subpar shooting by the Cougars. Guards Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery were a combined 10-of-34 from the field, including just 5-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"It was good for Charles and Noah and the rest of the guys to crash and give us second opportunities at the rim where we weren't hitting shots from the outside," Emery said.
The result? Layups.
"It's a huge part of our offense," Collinsworth said. "We send three, four and five to the glass and crash the boards and try to get second chances for our team."
The Cougars, he added, have a lot of good rebounders and just need to be aggressive and grab them.
The situation is intensified with Brandon Davies no longer helping to patrol the paint. Before the game with BYU, TCU's Hank Thorns said the Cougars were vulnerable in the post.
That wasn't the case, however, in the second half when the game was decided.
"We understand that a lot of teams are going to think that we're vulnerable in the post," Emery said. "But we still have a lot of confidence in our guys."
And it paid off, again.
"This group has found ways to win games," BYU coach Dave Rose said while noting that the second-chance payoff didn't surprise him. "We needed to do that to win."