PROVO -- After another slow start, the BYU Cougars (4-0) had no problems dismantling the Mississippi Valley State Devils 86-36 Tuesday night.
The Cougars struggled to not only get the ball in the hoop, but hang on to the ball in the first few minutes of the game. BYU started the game 1-8 shooting and led 3-0 after four minutes of play. The score remained close until the 8:48 mark, when the Cougars led 8-5.
While the Cougar offense got going, finishing the half on a 25-3 run, the Cougar defense stifled Mississippi Valley State into just 10 points in the first half, tying for the lowest point total in a half by an opponent in BYU's modern-era history.
"I thought defensively it was about as good a performance as we've have had in a long time," Head Coach Dave Rose said. "I thought we were consistently challenging shots to make it difficult for them and when they drove I thought our posts were very active. On their attack penetration we made it really hard for them to get a good look at the basket."
Senior guard Jackson Emery explained the change in tempo for the Cougars.
"Unfortunately at the beginning we weren't hitting shots," Emery said. "I thought finally we got the ball in the post and our big guys made some big plays to get us going."
Sophomore forward Brandon Davies continues to improve. He has now scored in double figures for two games in a row, while also adding ten rebounds in his performance against the Devils. Davies attributes his success on his improved efforts in practice.
"I'm just working on consistency," Davies said. "That's one of the things that coach has emphasized that I do. Being more consistent in practice, just working hard in practice, and it has carried over to the games."
The true test for Davies will come against some stiffer competition this weekend.
While it was humble for Emery to credit the big guys for their work in this win, much of the credit could be given to the guards, who started out sluggishly, but hit a hot streak and were able to drain a few threes in a row, demoralizing the Devils.
For the Cougars to succeed in the South Padre Island Invitational, they will need to fix their slow starts, and have the big men play as well as they have against lesser teams.
Next up for the Cougars are the South Florida Bulls. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 pm MT on Friday afternoon, and can be heard on ksl.com and KSL Newsradio 102.7FM/1160AM, beginning with pregame coverage at 3:00.