PROVO — Brigham Young University beat Northern Arizona University 84-54, winning their third game against a Big Sky Conference opponent this season and improving to 7-0 when scoring 80 points or more.
The Cougars were led on offense by Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws, who combined for 42 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 69 percent from the floor.
Davies and Haws led the Cougars in scoring this season, averaging 20.3 and 19.3 points respectively on the season. The two captains are not a cause for concern for the coaching staff as the team prepares for games against West Coast Conference opponents — finding a third scorer and developing a bench rotation are the problems facing BYU, questions still unanswered after the win.
Who will step up and provide scoring outside of Haws and Davies? Early in the season it seemed as if Matt Carlino was prepared to fill that role. The young point guard was shooting well and sharing the ball. However, since the second game of the season, Carlino has had just two double-digit scoring nights (against Iowa State and Utah) and has nine games with less than eight points.
The third team captain, Brock Zylstra, has also struggled to score during the first half of the season. After posting a 45.5 percent field goal rate last season, Zylstra has shot 5 percent worse this year while averaging fewer shots per game.
BYU coach Dave Rose is also developing a bench rotation in preparation for the second half of the season. With 10 players in their first or second year in the program, many players are still working on developing their identity with the team.
Raul Delgado has played his way into an increased role in the second half of the season. The transfer from Western Nebraska brings an athletic element to the backcourt. Delgado has averaged 15.5 minutes per game over the last four games while shooting 40 percent on 3-point attempts over the same span of games.
Nate Austin has also developed into a reliable backup forward, averaging 16.25 minutes per game over the previous four games. Austin is fourth in rebounding on the team, averaging 4.25 a game coming off of the bench.
Anson Winder has returned from an ankle injury suffered during the offseason to contribute as a backup point guard, averaging 12 minutes per game over the last three games. Winder is taking care of the ball, with two turnovers in 63 minutes for the entire season.
Rose has spoken in the past about the versatility of the lineup, and how he will adjust the lineups to find the best matchup for each specific game. This may determine whether Craig Cusick or Zylstra are in the starting lineup going forward throughout the remainder of the season.
Another addition to the lineup is BYU football player Bronson Kaufusi, who joins the team after spending time on the defensive line. Kaufusi brings a physical presence to the lineup, measuring 6-7 and 260 pounds.
Kaufusi will join Jennifer Hamson as another two-sport athlete for BYU. Hamson is a member of the volleyball team as well as the basketball team. Kaufusi began to practice with the basketball team during the Christmas break and was on the bench in street clothes for the game against Northern Arizona.
BYU has another nearly-home game, with Virginia Tech next on the schedule in a game at Energy Solutions Arena on Saturday, Dec. 29, at 12 p.m. MST.
Daniel Lewis is an intern with KSL.com, and covers the BYU men's basketball team. He is studying communications at Brigham Young University, with an emphasis in multimedia journalism.