For the BYU Cougars there were two main story lines coming into the game against the LMU Lions: the health of freshman center Eric Mika, after suffering a hip contusion against San Diego last Saturday, and the emergence of Skyler Halford as a starter and a scorer. Although Mika warmed up with the team prior to the game, he did not see any playing time. Halford struggled offensively throughout the game, scoring only two points on the night. However, it was offset by the cool play of Matt Carlino who scored 18.
Both BYU and LMU came out with good energy to start the game. LMU jumped out to the lead and held on to it to close out the half. Despite going down by as many as 10 points in the first half, the Cougars closed the gap to just one point and went into the half with a score of 38-37 in favor of LMU. Bench play was important in the first half with the leading scorer for each team coming off the bench. C.J. Blackwell scored 10 for LMU and Matt Carlino led all scorers with 12. Carlino's re-emergence was encouraging to Cougar fans as his play has been dismal in the last month-and-a-half. Despite Halford’s lack of productivity on the offensive side of the ball, Carlino found ways to score by coming off screens, hitting threes, and driving to the rim.
One of the things that Austin has done to improve his game is decrease his number of fouls. His first foul against LMU came with about 12 minutes left in the game. With Mika not playing tonight it was essential for Austin to be able to play freely without concern for foul trouble. This is the result of good coaching. Two weeks ago coaches sat down with Austin to analyze game film of him fouling and then make corrections to prevent them without giving up a play. Although Austin finished the game with only two points, he made his presence known with nine rebounds. It also turns out that BYU has a half-court game. It’s been too long since the Cougars have played with a solid half-court game, and they looked great doing it. With 9:46 left to play Kyle Collinsworth fed a great pass into Josh Sharp who scored at the rim. By making great passes, setting screens, and getting second chance points, the Cougars showed that when they play as a team they are hard to stop. The defense looked good in the second half but upped the ante in the second half. The Cougars continued to play with great energy which led to blocks and steals, which in turn then led to multiple points in transition. They closed out the night with 10 steals, five blocks, and 38 rebounds (10 more than LMU).
After being tied at 58, BYU went on to beat LMU 91-68, giving Dave Rose his 220th win at BYU. Tyler Haws had his seventh 30+ point night with 31 points, tying John Fairchild for seventh place for the most 30+ point games. In doing so he moved to fifth place for most 20+ point games at BYU with 40. Kyle Collinsworth scored a career high 20 points while Carlino reemerged with 18 points. Another major contribution to tonight’s victory for the Cougars was 78.9% free throw shooting (30-38). The Cougars have come an awfully long way from their last loss to Pepperdine in December. The last two games have been won without Mika in the lineup. As long as the Cougars are able play consistently at this level, expect a different team from what we saw in December the rest of the season.
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