PROVO — BYU's unassuming, spring-loaded forward, Josh Sharp, will inevitably be featured on more highlight shows after throwing down another crowd-pleasing, thunderous dunk Thursday night in the Cougars' West Coast Conference opener.
But one of the big keys to BYU's impressive 92-51 victory over Loyola Marymount was his workmanlike rebounding.
Sharp grabbed 12 rebounds, including eight offensive boards — tied for second-best in school history — as the Cougars outrebounded the Lions, 55-28.
"He can jump," said guard Matt Carlino, who scored a game-high 21 points and dished out five assists. "He reminds me of Dennis Rodman, without the tattoos … He's a great rebounder."
Yeah, Sharp's did some sharp work in the paint, sans body paint.
And it was BYU's rebounding that helped turn the game around.
The Cougars trailed in the opening minutes, 11-5, as Loyola Marymount grabbed a flurry of offensive rebounds. But BYU asserted itself on the boards and scored 16 unanswered points, including four consecutive 3-pointers as part of a 23-4 run to seize a 28-15 advantage.
From there, the Cougars cruised.
"We focused on (rebounding) as a team. That's something I can help the team with," Sharp said. "Coming out of the gates, they were killing us. They got a bunch of offensive rebounds and that was how they were getting their points, mostly. We knew that if we were going to win, then we had to beat them on the boards."
"Our ability to control the defensive boards was a huge difference in the game," said coach Dave Rose. "But the offensive rebounds we got showed a lot of determination and a lot of urgency. Josh had eight offensive rebounds, which is a fantastic number for our team. It gave us so many more possessions in the game … Early, on the boards, we had a few problems. (LMU) had eight offensive rebounds at the 10-minute timeout and ended up with 10 for the game. The last 25-30 minutes, we did a really good job of limiting them to just one shot. I thought that was the difference in the game."
Meanwhile, Carlino knocked down 4-of-8 3-pointers en route to 21 points, Tyler Haws chipped in 20 points and Brandon Davies added 12. Both Haws and Davies had nine rebounds apiece.
Defensively, BYU limited the league's leading scorer, guard Anthony Ireland, to nine points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field.
The Cougars also avenged a 14-point loss at the Marriott Center last January.
"You think about that. But it's a new year," Carlino said. "We don't get to beat that team from last year ever again even though they have the same name across their chests. But, yeah, it's definitely sweet revenge."
LMU coach Max Good felt like his team ran into a buzz saw Thursday.
"They got on a roll there after we took a lead and hit us in the mouth, and we just did not answer," Good said. "Give BYU credit, they worked hard and I have a great deal of respect for their program. They pushed us every chance they got and we had no answer. They won every phase of the game. They transitioned better than us. Rebounded better. Shot better. Defended better. Coached better. They laid the wood too us tonight. Can't do much when you shoot the way we did and guard the way we did, especially in transition." Despite suffering an ankle sprain last Saturday against Virginia Tech, Davies played 30 minutes against the Lions. He started slow, but finished strong.
"I told him after the game that I was really proud of him," Rose said. "He's not 100 percent. Everyone could see he was a step slow. But as the game went on, he got better. That shows a lot of character and toughness. What really excites us as a coaching staff is what that does for the rest of your team. Other guys see a guy playing through a situation like that and I think that can really help us down the road."
BYU visits San Francisco Saturday (8 p.m., MT, BYUtv) in its WCC road opener.
NOTES: Announced attendance was 18,160 … BYU defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi, who joined the basketball team last week, made his Cougar basketball debut Thursday night. He entered the game with 1:39 remaining and scored his first points on a bucket with 23 seconds left … LMU guard Chase Flint, a Fruit Heights native and Eastern Utah product, had a rough night offensively, going 0-of-8 from the field. But he did record a team-high seven rebounds.