When the postseason approaches a lot of consideration is giving to the momentum that a team is carrying into the tournament. Oftentimes, a team that has struggled during the season, but that is firing on all cylinders as the season draws to a close is considered extremely dangerous by those who are supposedly in the know.
Add BYU to that list.
One week ago today, BYU suffered a tough loss at home to a good New Mexico team, a loss that occurred with Mountain West Conference POY frontrunner Jimmer Fredette battling sickness. It also could have easily taken the wind right out of the sails of the Cougars, but this is a different breed of team than in years past.
They came out on Wednesday and hammered their hated in-state rival Utah on the road showing that they could rebound quickly from a tough loss. It was also encouraging to see the continued quality play of Michael Loyd Jr. with Fredette again struggling with sickness.
The Cougars followed up that dominant win with an even more impressive display against TCU on Saturday.
Now if you only watched the beginning of the game, you may be a little surprised by the final score, 107-77. TCU came out hot and put BYU in an early hole leaving me sickly thinking of a certain game earlier this season when BYU’s opponent simply shot them out of the gym. But this team has grown a lot since then.
Dave Rose had seen enough and decided to look in a different direction for a spark. He pulled all of the starters except for Jackson Emery, which would prove to be a very wise decision as Emery had an all-around spectacular game.
Emery didn’t fly solo though as Jonathan Tavernari and Charles Abouo joined in on the fun. All three ended up with 20+ points in the game, and their combination of solid defense and lights out shooting brought the Cougars quickly back into the game, and vaulted them into the second half.
BYU ended the half with a 14 point lead, and pushed that lead as high as 32 in the second half. Shooting 62 percent for the game, including 56 percent from three-point range, ensured that this game was not going to be close.
What I find most comforting though is that BYU is still getting assists on close to two-thirds of their field goals. That means that they are making the extra pass, setting up their teammates, and being unselfish, which is exactly what they will need to do to be successful in the coming weeks.
It is also the opposite of what TCU was doing. They started out that way, but then switched to a more one-on-one style which led to 24 turnovers, and ultimately, their demise.
These two teams will meet again next week in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament, and I would expect a similar result.
Coach Rose can come out and say they need to be careful with this team all he wants, but I would guess he really isn’t stressing it too much. Granted, you can’t get too cocky, or you end up losing a game you should win, but TCU is no match for BYU when they play their game.
The regular season is finally over, and it is time to really get excited about the tournaments coming up. This is the most successful team in BYU history, and I think it is a team that can finally get over the hump and win some games in the big dance.
They have the penetrating point guard play that they need from Fredette and Loyd, they have the stellar defense with Jackson Emery leading the way, and they have a solid bench as evidenced in both of the last two games.
I think it is safe to say that my hopes are just as high for this team as they have been for our football team recently. What a great time to be a BYU fan!