BYU Basketball: What we learned from the Portland blowout

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Dalton Nixon
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Dalton Nixon /

It was Home Sweet Home for BYU Basketball on Thursday night as they blew out Portland by playing well at both ends of the court.

BYU Basketball finally put together a solid game on both ends of the court, their first in more than a month.

The Cougars outpaced Portland 79-56 in their first home game in four weeks, playing efficiently on offense and soundly on defense. The Pilots’ 56 points is the lowest that BYU has allowed all season.

As expected, BYU looked much more comfortable in front of the home crowd, as they improve to 8-1 in the Marriott Center this season.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the blowout win:

Foul Fest

It’s becoming the norm for the officials who cover the West Coast Conference to fall in love with the sound of their whistles, and Thursday was no different, especially in the first half. Both teams were in the double-bonus before the half, and BYU had racked up 15 fouls before the break.

At halftime, six Cougars had two fouls apiece (Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws, Gavin Baxter, Luke Worthington, McKay Cannon, and Zack Seljaas).

A Game of Runs

As we’ve discussed, the Cougars have struggled to stop their opponents’ scoring runs and counter with runs of their own, especially in road games.

This time they jumped out to a big lead with an 18-0 run before the Pilots countered with an 11-1 run that helped bring the game back within three points. Of course, that run came while nearly every BYU rotation player was on the bench with foul trouble.

But Rylan Bergersen’s three-pointer just before the half sparked an 8-0 run that put the Cougars back up by double-digits and put the game out of reach for good.

Model of Efficiency

Yoeli Childs’ shooting line is one that you normally only see in NBA 2K19. He finished with 28 points on 9-13 shooting, including two three-pointers (2-4) and eight made free throws (8-9). Oh, and he added 12 rebounds and three assists.

If there’s one place to look for improvement, though, it’s his turnovers. He gave the ball away a team-high three times, and he’s still struggling to effectively pass out of a double-team consistently.

Haws the Distributor

TJ Haws only scored six points on Thursday night, which is almost unheard of in a BYU victory this year. But he scored those six points on just five field goal attempts, finding his teammates instead of forcing his way into shooting situations.

And that payed big dividends, as he finished with seven assists and only turned it over once.

Role Player Support

The biggest beneficiaries of the return home were the Cougar role players. 10 different players played more than 10 minutes for BYU against Portland, and seven players scored at least six points.

Nick Emery did an admirable job of leading the team with most of the starters in foul trouble in the first half, and the Pilots didn’t make up most of their ground until Emery also went to the bench for rest.

Defensive Turnaround

The Cougars have been much better defensively at home than on the road, but they were especially sharp against the Pilots. Their perimeter defense looked much better, especially at the point of attack, and they held Portland to just 37.3% shooting and 26.1% from distance.

Sure, the Pilots missed some open shots, but those shots were fewer than what we’ve seen from other recent Cougar opponents.

No Hardnett

Drama surrounded the team this week as Jashire Hardnett reportedly left the team earlier in the week with plans to transfer, then returned to practice on Wednesday.

He didn’t see any action against Portland, though, although BYUtv reported that he was wearing a brace during shootaround, so it seems likely that he sat for health reasons.