On an evening that honored the best team in BYU's rich basketball history, the current Cougars also took care of things on the court. BYU played hard from beginning to end and earned a dominating victory over the Portland Pilots with good team defense and terrific shooting from Tyler Haws. BYU was relieved to come out with a win after a week of licking the wounds left by a string of losses.
Haws played well from beginning to end, finishing with 28 points on 13/19 shooting while contributing 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. I don't mean to create unrealistic expectations, and I think BYU fans know who Haws is at this point, but sometimes--just for a moment--he reminds me of Jimmer. He doesn't have the skills Jimmer did, but he takes hard shots that seem to almost always go in. He is a joy to watch.
At halftime, BYU honored Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson, members the 1951 national championship-winning team, by retiring their jerseys. Many BYU fans remarked on how long it took BYU to honor these men, and there may be legitimate reason for the criticism, but it was amazing to have two men from what seems like a lifetime ago address BYU fans and connect the current generation to that era.
Cusick started at guard and made valuable contributions, hitting two threes that opened BYU's offense early in the game. BYU has desperately needed outside shooting in recent weeks, and Cusick provided it. BYU played with a small lineup for much of the game, and it seemed to make a difference, but it remains to be seen how effective that will be against the better teams remaining on BYU's schedule.
The jersey retiring wasn't the only historical element of tonight's game. Brandon Davies passed Kresimir Cosic, one of BYU's all-time great centers--a man who was an ambassador for the game of basketball and the LDS church to his native country of Yugoslavia--to become BYU's 13th all-time scorer.
BYU next faces Utah State in the game that was rescheduled due to a USU player's life-threatening emergency and hospitalization. That game will take place Tuesday night in the Marriott Center. USU won last year's matchup in Logan.