PROVO — BYU rode a strong defensive performance, as well as a superb performance by senior forward Brandon Davies to an 85-60 win over the University of Montana Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
Davies put up 21 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in 33 minutes of play, while repeatedly attacking the Grizzlies forwards on the offensive end to earn 17 free throw attempts. Davies was a force on defense, while rejecting two shots, registering four steals, and drawing charges in the paint.
“This was a great team win," Davies said after the game. "Both halves, we played solid, and the second half we came out and played even stronger. I thought we shared the ball pretty well. Everyone was finishing plays and playing on the attack. When we play like that, we are hard to be beat.”
The BYU defense kept the Montana players from earning many open looks by maintaining pressure on the perimeter as well as forcing turnovers on 25 percent of possessions, 17 turnovers total. The 17 turnovers resulted in 26 points for the Cougars, one point more than the margin of victory.
“I thought we played well," said BYU head coach Dave Rose in a press conference. "I was really pleased with the start of the game. Defensively we got out to a great start and challenged every shot. Offensively, we had open shots, we hit them and got off to a nice lead. We probably could have shot free throws a bit better, but other than that I thought it was a pretty good game.”
Davies' play was especially effective on offense. While Davies struggled from the free throw line, shooting 53 percent — 9 of 17 — far below his season average of 77 percent. Davies' aggresiveness on offense led to the Grizzlie defenders getting into foul trouble, forcing Andy Martin, the starting center, and Mathias Ward, the starting forward and leading scorer from the game. The two starters each played 19 minutes, but watched the end of the game from the bench after fouling out.
“All three of Montana’s big guys fouling out is what happens when we play on the attack," Davies said. "It wasn’t just me, but it was the other guys coming in. We as big guys are hard to stop when we play like we did tonight.”
Davies went the entire game without registering a foul for the first time this season. Davies has gotten into foul trouble in almost every game, averaging 3.5 fouls per game on the season. In the games where Davies has had to sit on the bench due to early foul problems, the Cougars have lost. In the games where Davies is able to help run the offense through the post, the Cougars have won.
“Coach has really challenged me to not pick up any dumb fouls and to stay in the game," Davies said. "He has told me the team needs me in there, and I think I did a pretty good job today. It has been a while since I haven’t had a foul in a game.”
Brigham Young will continue its season Saturday on the road against the Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa State won its first four games before dropping its last two against Cincinnati and UNLV. Iowa State is undefeated at home this season.
Daniel Lewis is a KSL intern, who is currently studying communications at Brigham Young University. Submit your BYU basketball questions to him on Twitter @minutemandan.