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PROVO, Utah (Nov. 2, 2007) -- The BYU men's basketball team opened exhibition play with a 91-60 win against Canada's Laval University on Friday in the Marriott Center.
Junior Trent Plaisted led four Cougars in double figures with 18 points. Sam Burgess and Jonathan Tavernari contributed with 15 points each, and Lee Cummard added 11. Tavernari also recorded a game-high eight rebounds. BYU held Laval to a .368 field-goal percentage and scored 28 points off of turnovers.
"We have good defensive help, and we were especially strong on the weak side tonight," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "We were playing more aggressive and quick. That helps the pace of our offense when you can push the ball."
The opening tip went the Cougars' way and from there the team never looked back. Despite being unable to convert on its first possession, two steals by Lee Cummard and Sam Burgess gave the Cougars the early lead, which they would never lose. Burgess and Plaisted combined to score BYU's first nine points.
Newcomer Jimmer Fredette's first touch of the game resulted in a turn-around jumper to give the Cougars a 19-8 lead. Burgess scored his third three-pointer with 9:30 to play in the first half, increasing BYU's lead to 10 points.
The physical play of both teams came to a head when Murdock and Fredette collided on the floor. Murdock received three stitches to his forehead, and Fredette received 13. Though Murdock returned to the game, the coaches chose to hold Fredette out, but he is expected to play again on Wednesday.
BYU's good defensive play and two three-pointers by Tavernari put the Cougars up 35-22. However, plagued by constant traveling calls and turnovers, both teams were unable to establish a run despite BYU having a 42-29 lead going into the half.
The Cougars opened the second half with a forced Laval turnover and dunk by Cummard. Momentum began to shift in BYU's favor after Plaisted went 2-for-3 from the free-throw line in two trips, and Cummard recorded his second dunk of the night with less than 17 minutes to play in the game.
"I am really pleased with our effort coming out of the locker room after halftime," said Rose. "Our guys really came out and played as a group. We just need to take the first 10 minutes of the second half and build on that."
Not wanting to be left out of the dunking action, Plaisted knocked one down to put the Cougars up 52-34. He went on to score 10 points in BYU's 18-5 scoring run to begin the second half.
"They went to Plaisted a lot at the beginning of the second half," said Laval head coach Jacques Paiement. "I would have done the same thing because he is a fantastic player."
Two breakaway lay-ins by Burgess and Michael Loyd Jr. increased the BYU lead to 28 points. Tavernari recorded his first block of the night with 6:10 to play in the game and continued his contributions with a three-pointer on BYU's next possession.
Vuk Ivanovic tipped in a missed attempt by Burgess from beyond the arc, while Loyd scored two after forcing a Laval turnover. BYU's 34 point lead, its largest of the night, came with 2:35 left in the game.
"Coming into this kind of environment where everything is just so well run, on and off the court, was really fun," said Paiment. "BYU is a classy program, and this was just a great experience for our team."
Up next BYU will play its second exhibition game at home against Bryant University on Wednesday at 7 p.m.