One Down, and (A Big) One To Go...


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I have a very, very early flight out of Tulsa in the morning, but the postgame adrenaline is still flowing, so I figured I would jot down a few thoughts while they're fresh in my mind.

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Tuesday night's 74-68 win at Tulsa does more than snap the Golden Hurricane's lengthy homecourt win streak (18 games) and improve BYU's record to an impressive 11-1; it helps to exorcise the demons that had begun to haunt this BYU Basketball team over the last couple of seasons.

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Now, understand that BYU hasn't had many losses to begin with--only 18 since the start of the 2006-2007 season, with 63 wins in that time. So, before any nits are picked, let's all recognize what Dave Rose, his staff and players have accomplished in going 83-27 overall since Rose's BYU coaching tenure began.

But in most of BYU's most disappointing recent losses, a pattern had begun to emerge--a pattern that featured BYU going on the road, building a lead, often a big lead and often a late lead, and losing those leads and games. In games at Boise State, at UNLV (more than once), v. Xavier in the NCAA Tournament, v. Michigan State in SLC, at San Diego State and most recently v. Arizona State in Phoenix, the Cougars let games slip away in agonizingly similar ways, and a familiar scenario was beginning to unfold Tuesday night at the Reynolds Center. Then, the Cougars put recent history on hold and grabbed onto a game that was sliding out of their grasp.

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Leading by 9 with under 5 minutes to play, BYU watched the lead narrow to three points, but from that point, the Cougars would not be denied, making 5 of 6 free throws while forcing a turnover and two Tulsa missed shots at the other end to deal the deal.

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Only time will tell how good this BYU team will be, but there can be no better way to erase the painful memories of the ASU loss and prepare the Cougars for the conference battles to come than by dispatching Tulsa in the manner they did on Tuesday night.

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BYU won by shooting a typically good number (53%), but many other things about BYU's victory were atypical. A BYU team assisting on 63% of its made field goals had assists on only 9 of 28 shots made at Tulsa. A BYU team leading the MWC and nationally-ranked in the top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio had 13 miscues (a conservative accounting) to go with those 9 helpers. A BYU team averaging more than 8 made three-pointers per game went 3 for 12 from the arc. And a BYU team that allows an average of only 55 shots per game saw Tulsa shoot 72 times--19 more shots than the Cougars hoisted on the night (thanks in large part to TU's 15 offensive rebounds).

In the end, BYU grabbed just enough defensive rebounds, got just enough meaningful minutes from guys like Charles Abouo (sesaon-high 25 minutes in place of an injured Jackson Emery) and big enough nights from the Big Three (Cummard-26 points, Tavernari-20 and Fredette 13) to gut out a huge win over a Tulsa team that last lost a nonconference game in the Reynolds Center almost 3 years ago.

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And, oh yes, chalk up another "bounce-back" win for Dave Rose and the Cougars. Since Rose became head coach, BYU has lost 21 regular season games. BYU has followed 20 of those losses with a win in the next game. I cannot emphasize this enough: under Rose, BYU's longest regular-season losing skid is two games, and that has happened exactly once. To quote the Beastie Boys, "that's it, that's all, that's all there is."

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Next up for the Cougars (up to 34th on realtimerpi.com as of this writing): the 6th-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Saturday night in Provo. It is one of the nation's top three marquee matchups of that day, featuring teams with a combined record of 23-1 coming in.

More to come on that one after I get back in town...

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