In practice the past couple of days Craig has been the guy who showed he really had those defensive concepts down, so we played him a lot tonight and he really helped us. —BYU coach Dave Rose
PROVO -- The BYU men’s basketball team built an early lead and then cruised to an 81-62 over University of Texas-San Antonio Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws led the Cougars with 22 and 20 points, respectively.
BYU enjoyed a considerable size advantage over a UTSA team, whose starting center stood in at 6-foot-4. The Cougars dominated the post-play as a result finished with a 48-21 rebounding advantage.
"I thought we did a lot of things really well tonight," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "I thought we shot the ball really well. We shot free throws extremely well. We rebounded really well, and I think, for the most part, we competed very well."
The Cougars started sluggish, but found their groove shortly after the 15-minute mark and built a commanding 48-28 lead at the half.
Haws sparked a 26-6 run with a team-high 13 points in the half. Agustin Ambrosino also contributed two 3-pointers off the bench during the run.
"I was really, really happy for (Ambrosino)," Rose said. "It was probably the best six or seven minutes he played for us so far. I think he's going to be a big part of our team"
Craig Cusick subbed in for a struggling Matt Carlino early and steadied the ship by providing four assists and 14 minutes played at the half. Carlino hit on just 1-of-5 shots in the half and found himself a spot on the bench earlier than expected.
Cusick started the second half for Carlino and ended the game with seven points on 3-of-3 shooting and five assists in 29 minutes of play. Carlino ended with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting in 10 minutes.
"Craig was really steady and I thought he managed the game really well," Rose said. "In practice the past couple of days Craig has been the guy who showed he really had those defensive concepts down, so we played him a lot and he really helped us."
With Carlino struggling with his shot he started forcing things according to Rose: "I thought it was a good idea for him to sit and watch for a minute," Rose said.
Foul trouble for the BYU bigs was a problem early with Davies, Josh Sharp, Nate Austin and Ian Harward each collecting two fouls in the first half.
"It's a matter of figuring out how the game is being called and not putting yourself in tough situations," Rose said about avoiding early foul trouble. "What usually happens with our big guys if they recognize the play late and they try and make up for it and what we need to do is find another way and find a different angle."
Despite his early foul trouble, Davies scored eight quick points in the second half and remained aggressive. The Roadrunners made some runs, but were unable to cut the deficit to single digits.
Rose emptied his bench and each player who dressed scoring at least a point. The Cougars riddled the nets with 51.7 percent shooting from the field and 92.9 percent shooting from the foul line.
Next up for the Cougars is Cal State-Northridge on Saturday night at the Marriott Center. Top recruit Jabari Parker is expected to be in attendance as part of his official visit.
"We expect a full house and I think it will be a real exciting game," Rose said. "The energy and the excitement in the Marriott Center when it's full is terrific and that's what I hope for."