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BYU vs. Portland Recap: Kyle Collinsworth's 11th triple-double propels Cougars to victory

Portland was the only WCC team BYU hadn't beaten this season coming into Thursday's game, but the Cougars checked off that last box with an easy victory over the Pilots.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Collinsworth recorded his fifth triple-double of the season and the 11th of his career as the BYU Cougars defeated the Portland Pilots 99-81 at the Marriott Center on Thursday night.

Collinsworth set a new career high of 16 assists to go with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Chase Fischer added 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while Nick Emery finished with 17 points and 4 assists. Rounding out the double-figure scorers were Jordan Chatman with 13 points, Kyle Davis with 11 points and Zac Seljaas with 10 points. Seljaas, in particular, showed an expanded offensive repertoire, driving to the basket for a couple of nice finishes while also handing out 5 assists (with no turnovers).

After Portland got out to a quick 5-0 lead, BYU went on an extended 50-21 run to build the lead as high as 24 points in the first half. While the outcome was never in true doubt, Portland never let the game get too far out of hand with the hot second half shooting of Jazz Johnson, who scored all of his 17 points in the second half on a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Forward Ray Barreno also played well, finishing with 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and 11 rebounds, exploiting Corbin Kaufusi on the offensive boards a couple of times. Bryce Pressley also had a solid outing, continuing his outstanding senior season with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting to go with 6 assists.

BYU did two things very well that were crucial in getting the victory by a large margin:

First, they held Portland's leading scorer Alec Wintering to 5 points, well below his season average of 18.9 points per game. He came into this game shooting 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc, but went just 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-2 from distance. Credit Kyle Collinsworth's defensive activity at the top of BYU's frequently used 1-3-1 defense for flustering Wintering.

Second, BYU won the assist battle with Portland, out-dishing the Pilots 30 to 19. The Cougars' 30 assists came with just 12 turnovers for a very impressive 2.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Not only did BYU's ball movement lead to open threes, but also a lot easy baskets inside for Kyle Davis.

The Cougars always seem to be playing their best basketball at the end of February, and this year is no exception. They carry all the momentum they could possibly ask for heading into their showdown with Gonzaga on Saturday. Both teams are fighting for an NCAA at-large bid, as each of them are among the first eight teams out of ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi's latest mock bracket.

BYU is most effective on offense when they have Zac Seljaas spacing the floor at the power forward position, but will they be able to use that lineup against the frontcourt of Sabonis and Wiltjer and still be effective defensively? That is one of intriguing questions heading into the game, which will go a long way toward determining WCC Tournament seeding and potentially a regular season title.