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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Santa Clara's Head Coach Kerry Keating questions a call to a referee as BYU and Santa Clara Play Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at the Marriott Center in Provo. BYU won 95-78.
We've all been getting more comfortable playing with each other. I think people who have watched us can see that. —Matt Carlino

PROVO — Sporting a fresh, short-cropped haircut, freshman point guard Matt Carlino played more aggressively than he has in a while in BYU's 95-78 victory over Santa Clara on Saturday night.

At first, he couldn't explain why. "It was just part of the game," he said.

But Carlino clearly looked toward the Broncos' bench each time he buried a 3-pointer (he had three from behind the arc) as he finished with 21 points and eight assists.

"I don't know what got into me," he said with a smile. "I knew their coach (Santa Clara's Kerry Keating, a former UCLA assistant) from UCLA. I was happy to play in this game."

He didn't elaborate.

Or maybe Carlino, a UCLA transfer who became eligible on Dec. 17, is simply feeling more at ease with his teammates.

"We've all been getting more comfortable playing with each other. I think people who have watched us can see that," he said. "We're just getting a lot better as a team. I know where these guys are going to be all the time. I know where to get them the ball and they do a great job of knocking everything down and making plays, too. We're just getting a lot better."

Coach Dave Rose liked what he saw from Carlino against Santa Clara. Carlino hit 7-of-12 shots from the field and was 3-of-6 from 3-point territory.

"There will be some nights when he becomes a lot more of a distributor and some nights when we need him to score," Rose said. "Tonight was a night when we needed him to score. As he plays with us, he'll be able to understand and have a feel for that. He played terrific. He had an outstanding game."

ASSISTS: Last week against San Francisco, BYU had 27 assists on 29 made baskets. Saturday, the Cougars racked up 21 assists on 33 baskets.

"We had 21 assists tonight and that's a good number," Rose said. "But it was hard to control the pace (of the game) because (Santa Clara) just kept scoring."

SUMMER 'DOS: Carlino isn't the only Cougar with short hair these days.

Forward Noah Hartsock suggested it has something to do with the balmy temperatures. "It's getting warmer here in Provo," he said. "Summer haircuts."

NOTES: For BYU, three players scored 20 points or more for the first time since March 6, 2010, against TCU. Brandon Davies had 23 points, to go along with 21 each for Carlino and Hartsock. Charles Abouo also scored in double figures with 13 points. … BYU shot a season-high 56.9 percent from the field, hitting 33-of-58 shots. … A female BYU student sunk a half-court shot at halftime to win an iPad.