BYU-Air Force: Cougars Find Their Stroke in Pounding Falcons

David LynnCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2010

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 13:  Jonathan Tavernari #45, Chris Miles #54, Noah Hartsock #34 and Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young University Cougars take to the court late in their game against the San Diego State Aztecs during a semifinal game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships at the Thomas & Mack Center March 13, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aztecs on 64-62.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It’s amazing what a week of good practice can do to a quality team.

All week, players and coaches were talking about how they were focused in practice on getting back to playing the way they like to play. We all know how much fun that is to watch. Scoring in transition, draining threes, and good ball movement lead to the kind of basketball I love to watch, and up until last Saturday, that is how BYU was playing.

Last Saturday UNLV decided they would play that way, and it led to a convincing win over a solid BYU team. There was really very little BYU could have done to beat UNLV as they were just too hot. Fast forward to this week and it was the same story, only this time BYU was the unstoppable team.

They simply came out on fire, and Air Force was helpless to stop them. Air Force actually led at 7-6, but then BYU put the gas pedal down and ran away with it. They shot 66% in the first half including shooting 71% from behind the arc. Jonathan Tavernari was 5-5 from long range.

What I loved to see was that there were also a ton of assists. 16 of the 20 first half makes came after assists. That is the kind of play that leads to huge victories against lesser opponents, and close wins against greater opponents.

Jackson Emery was quoted as saying “There were several times when I remember a guy who was open, making a pass to a guy who was more open.” That is the kind of unselfish attitude that this team will have to have if they are going to win in the NCAA Tournament.

This 43 point beatdown was the worst loss ever for Air Force in a league game. Granted, they are not exactly the crown jewel of basketball, but after last week’s game we needed a big one. This should also help build some confidence as we move towards the end of the season, and with San Diego St. and New Mexico coming to town in a week.

This team has been much less cyclical than other teams in recent memory. They still have their ups and downs like any team, as evidenced last week, but they seem to be less extreme than other teams and that has led to more wins. And will hopefully lead to a longer season than we have had in awhile.

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