Is this the start of a late season push we have become accustomed to see from Dave Rose? With a favorable schedule down the stretch it is beginning to look like one. Bolstered by strong bench play and solid shooting, the BYU Cougars now own third place in the WCC with eight more regular season games to go.
BYU started slowly again, but fought back quickly with three long range bombs from Jakob Hartsock. From there they rode hot shooting, and Pepperdine foul trouble, to an eight point halftime lead. A re-energized Pepperdine team gained back some momentum at the start of the second half and pulled to within two early. This would be the closest they would come and with 10 minutes remaining they were down by 10 with the Cougars firmly in control the rest of the way.
Kyle Collinsworth had a huge night with 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 10 assists. His fourth rebound, which came in the final minutes, gives him the all-time BYU career rebounding record as he knocked out BYU great Michael Smith from first place. Nick Emery contributed four momentum building steals for the BYU defensive effort. And guys, don't look now but Corbin Kaufusi is beginning to look really good out there. Fans and insiders have gushed for two years about potential and upside, but he is really starting to deliver by contributing 10 points and 6 rebounds tonight with 8/10 from the free throw line. Zac Seljaas did not play due to a shoulder injury, but Jakob Hartsock made three from downtown to fill in for Seljaas's lost production. I expect to see Hartsock get more minutes down the stretch, especially if Seljaas remains injured.
The 88-77 win over Pepperdine tonight is a definite resume boost, but the biggest opportunity comes this Thursday when St. Mary's comes to town.