The New Mexico Lobos defeated the BYU Cougars in Provo on Saturday, handing the Cougars their first home loss of the season.
Much of the chatter after the game focused not just on the outcome, but also on some extra-curricular activities which occurred in the final minute and postgame.
After a Michael Loyd Jr. dunk tied the score, New Mexico's Darington Hobson brought the ball across half court and casually called a time out. BYU Senior Jonathan Tavernari was guarding Hobson at the time and didn't immediately back off.
Hobson gave Tavernari an elbow nudge to the ribs. Tavernari delivered a bump of his own.
No fouls were called.
Tavernari felt the lack of action was an outrage and proceeded to shout and gesticulate angrily. He was calmed and restrained by several teammates.
The referees reviewed the incident, determined (correctly) that nothing malicious or flagrant had transpired.
Play went on.
A few minutes later, the game went final, and tempers flared again.
Tavernari exchanged words with several members of the New Mexico coaching staff, including head coach Steve Alford.
Alford then allegedly shared a few choice words with Tavernari and a pocket of Cougar fans as he headed for the locker room.
To his credit, Tavernari personally apologized to Alford and his team. The Lobos brushed the incident off as a consequence of an intense, well-played game.
Regardless, it demonstrated, once again, that Jonathan Tavernari needs to grow up.
Tavernari is a very talented player. He's a very solid defender, has great anticipation, and is among the conference leaders in steals.
He is a prolific three-point shooter and a dangerous scorer from all over the court.
Despite his obvious abilities, Tavernari has always been a bit of a wild card.
He's volatile, fickle, mercurial, tempestuous; both in demeanor and in production.
When Jonathan Tavernari plays under control he is as potent an offensive weapon as any player in the MWC. His versatility makes him a perfect fit for the Cougars' prolific offense.
After his emotional outburst, his execution seemed to suffer. It was a missed box-out by Tavernari that allowed AJ Hardeman to grab an offensive rebound and score the go-ahead putback.
Tavernari then misfired on a great look from three that would have put BYU back in the lead.
Jonathan Tavernari has had a great career for the Cougars. He has won games, set records, and permanently left his mark on the MWC.
He has not, however, reached his full potential.
There is still time.
If Jonathan Tavernari can harness his emotion and play smart, controlled, deliberate basketball, he can help lead BYU to a very memorable post-season.
If the emotional rash that led to Saturday's antics flares up again, he'll be stuck reliving a feeling he'd rather forget.
The ball is in his court.
Cougar fans everywhere have their fingers crossed.
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