PROVO — BYU senior guard Craig Cusick has filled all sorts of roles this season, either as a starter or as a guy that comes off the bench.
On Saturday against Portland, Cusick started for the first time since Dec. 21 at Baylor. And it proved to be a smart decision.
Cusick scored 10 points, knocked down three 3-pointers, dished out seven assists and grabbed three rebounds in 36 minutes of play in the Cougars' 86-72 win over Portland at the Marriott Center.
"It obviously feels good. Everybody wants to play," Cusick said. "But the thing that makes this team special is that every player has a good attitude. The guys on the bench that are playing minutes — and I've been there — they're just as important as the guys on the court. The attitude and the positivity that everyone brings is what makes the team special. We need to keep that going."
Coach Dave Rose said the coaching staff decided to start Cusick against the Pilots because of the way he plays.
"We knew this would be a really physical game," Rose said. "Craig's one of those guys who probably consistently mixes it up the most of any of our guys on the perimeter, as far as throwing his body around and getting in there."
Starting Cusick allowed BYU to play Brock Zylstra at the "four," and Zylstra drew the assignment of guarding Portland's leading scorer, forward Ryan Nicholas, who entered Saturday averaging 13.3 points per game.
Nicholas was held scoreless in the first half and ended up with seven points.
"Both responded well," Rose said of Zylstra and Cusick.
Cusick said he'll do anything his team needs.
"Whatever Coach wants. It could a matchup thing. It could be that Coach sees something. The next game, I might not be starting. We're all in this together I'm just happy to be here and do whatever I can to help this team."
DAVIES ECLIPSES COSIC: BYU senior forward Brandon Davies scored 23 points Saturday, giving him 1,529 points for his career.
Davies surpassed Kresimir Cosic (1,513) and Jonathan Tavernari (1,519) on the Cougars' all-time scoring list and now sits in 12th place.
Davies needs 41 points to pass the next one on the list, No. 11 Lee Cummard (1,569).
NOTES: Former BYU coach Steve Cleveland received a call to serve as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Indianapolis. He and his wife, Kip, will begin their service in July. Cougar forward Bronson Kaufusi was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul in the first half on Oskars Reinfelds. Portland guard Tanner Riley, who was ejected from the game last month against BYU for taking down Zylstra after a mad scramble for the ball, scored 15 points Saturday and drilled four 3-pointers. Earlier in the week, Riley wrote Zylstra a letter, apologizing for his actions.