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LONG BEACH, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2007) - The BYU men's basketball team came out firing and never looked back as the Cougars opened the season with a 74-34 win at Long Beach State Saturday. The 40-point victory marked BYU's largest winning margin over a Division I opponent since 1995.
"I'm really pleased with our players, especially with their intensity and how hard they played," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "There are a lot of things we can work on to play better, but I was excited to watch them in this situation, our first game of the year and our first road game. A lot of times you have first-game jitters, but our guys did a good job of playing hard."
Junior Lee Cummard led the Cougars with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting while adding nine rebounds. Fellow junior and 2007 All-Mountain West Conference selection Trent Plaisted also scored in double figures with 12 points. 2007 MWC Freshman of the Year tied with Cummard for game-high rebounding honors with nine boards. Freshmen Jimmer Fredette and Chris Collinsworth each scored nine points in their Cougar debuts while Fredette added three assists and Collinsworth contributed six rebounds. Senior Ben Murdock tallied a game-high five assists to go along with his eight points.
BYU opened the season hot with a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the game, including four points and an assist from Cummard. Long Beach State finally got on the scoreboard at the 16-minute mark, but Cummard quickly took it the other way with a driving layin to put the Cougars up 12-2.
Fredette and Collinsworth made their respective Cougar debuts early on as they both checked in at the 15:31 mark. Collinsworth immediately made his presence felt with two rebounds, including an offensive board leading to a bucket for Plaisted and a 14-2 BYU lead.
Jonathan Tavernari got the Cougars going again with a three-pointer after a four-minute scoring drought that saw BYU miss seven shots. However, the Cougars stormed back with four straight makes from long range, including two from Fredette, to take a 27-4 lead. Plaisted then made some noise of his own with a dunk at the 6:15 mark to cap a 14-0 Cougar run.
The BYU momentum continued with a three-pointer from Murdock, which gave the Cougars a 26-point lead at 32-6 that turned into a 36-12 halftime advantage. Long Beach State made just three buckets in the first 20 minutes of the game as BYU allowed its fewest points in a half since giving up a record-low 10 points against Air Force in 2003.
LBSU made its first three-pointer of the game to open the second half after going 0-for-11 before the break. Turnovers plagued BYU in the early going of the second half until Cummard scored the first field goal of the period for the Cougars at the 15:30 mark. Murdock made it back-to-back scores with a three-point play before Plaisted converted one of his own to put BYU on top 47-19.
After the then-game-high 28-point lead, the 49ers attempted to comeback with a 6-1 run, including their first back-to-back buckets of the game. But three-point makes from Cummard and Fredette put the Cougars up by 29 points at 54-25 as the clock ticked past the 10-minute mark. Moments later, it was a 60-29 lead after freshman Nick Martineau scored his first bucket as a Cougar.
Senior Vuk Ivanovic heated up in the last 10 minutes of the game with six points in a three-minute span, sparking a 14-0 Cougar run. The spurt featured seven points from Collinsworth and was capped by a dunk from Chris Miles to give BYU a 74-34 lead, which would hold until the final buzzer.
The Cougars will make their Marriott Center debut on Wednesday as they host Idaho State at 7 p.m. BYU enters this season with the nation's second-longest active home winning streak at 31 games.