Although the BYU Cougars struggled to put the ball in the basket for much of the night, they managed to overcome the Washington Huskies in a 90-79 win in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. Tyler Haws carried the Cougars to the victory with 37 points, making up for the team’s dearth of offense through much of the second half.
Guards: Matt Carlino saw a lot of the bench during the first half, committing four early turnovers and playing frantic-looking defense. At the break he’d only played eight minutes and seemed to have left his A-game in the locker room. He came alive and never looked back, however, with a long three-pointer with 12:17 left in the second half and ended the game with 20 points (including four three-pointers), seven rebounds and nine assists. Brock Zylstra statistically seemed quiet at the hoop with only four points, but a second-half dunk was a game-changer after BYU’s disappointing first half; his jam shifted momentum to the Cougars, allowing them to control the tempo of the game and play their more traditional fast-paced transition offense. This, however, doesn’t change the fact that both Carlino and Zylstra were seemingly non-existent for most of the game and left the offense dragging. Grade: C.
Forwards: Tyler Haws found the basket early and often, shaking up a tough defensive team and scoring 37 points for the Cougars, earning himself the school record for most points scored in an NIT game. Haws held the team together through a dry first half, in which he scored seven of BYU’s twelve field goals. Perhaps his biggest contribution to the game, however, was a sense of confidence in feeding the ball to the perimeter even when the Cougars were 2-12 from distance. While he was a force in driving to the basket, he continued to give his teammates open shots, which in the end was the game-winning differential. Nate Austin added tough defense with three blocks, two steals and five rebounds, finishing with one basket on the night. Grade: A.
Centers: Brandon Davies looked outmatched against the 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye, who limited the BYU senior to 50 percent shooting in the paint and took advantage of poor defensive positioning to score ten points on the other side of the court. Davies found other ways to score, however, contributing five made free throws and a second-half three-pointer that brought down the house and gave the Cougars the lead. Like most of the team, his offensive contributions lacked in the first half, but he found his rhythm in the end and finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Grade: B-
Bench: 35 bench minutes only yielded 5 points, all of which came from freshman guard Cory Calvert. Defense lacked as Washington three-pointers rained down, and without Carlino, the game tempo dragged in a game in which transition speed was key to beating Washington’s tall roster. Grade: D.
Overall: The Cougars brought out their offense in the final twelve minutes of the game, and while the result was a flashy, convincing win, it didn’t make up for the twelve turnovers, lack of transition offense, and 33 percent first-half shooting. If it wasn’t for a certain sophomore forward, the Cougars would have had very little good to say about the outing. BYU makes it to the second round of the NIT, but Haws was the shoulders that carried them there. Grade: B-.
Jennifer Ball is a journalism student at Brigham Young University. EMAIL: [email protected]