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PROVO -- The BYU hoopsters didn't know what had hit them five minutes into their exhibition game against Trinity Western University Thursday night.
The Spartans of British Columbia scored an easy bucket just after tipoff and ran away to a 10-4 lead before the preseason Mountain West Conference favorites regained control to win the game 74-56.
The Cougars haven't had an exhibition game with such a low margin of victory since they defeated Seattle Pacific University by 14 points in 2005.
BYU head coach Dave Rose said he was pleased to open the season against such a formidable opponent.
"I was really impressed with Trinity Western. They were big, physical, strong, very well coached. They beat us up pretty good," Rose said.
"I'm actually really pleased," he continued. "You bring a team in here who actually runs good stuff, they screen hard, they make you actually execute defensively."
After struggling to pull away during much of the first half, the Cougars turned to veterans Jonathan Tavernari and Jimmer Fredette to get them back on track. The two upperclassmen led a 10-1 run late in the half, with Tavernari and Fredette scoring three and two baskets, respectively.
Rose acknowledged that the team will lean on these two players throughout the season.
"The bottom line is every team has to create its own personality," Rose said. "And I think Jimmer and JT will be a big part of this team offensively."
Fredette led the Cougars in scoring with 24 points, while Tavernari was second in scoring with 18 points. Tavernari filled the stat sheet, adding eight rebounds, two blocks, three steals, an assist, and no turnovers.
Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies, both true freshmen, were able to contribute significantly in the win. Haws hit a runner along the baseline to stop the Spartans' 10-4 run, finishing with six rebounds and six points. Davies had the highlight of the night, catching a pass from Fredette, and finishing in traffic with an emphatic dunk, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Fredette later said that pass was meant for Jackson Emery, but Davies "came out of nowhere" to catch the pass and finish strong. Davies also finished with six points and six rebounds, but also added an assist.
Fredette said he was happy with what he saw from his new teammates.
"They played really well. They did a good job for being out there for the first time," Fredette said. "They're big-time guys. They did a great job in high school, and they're going to help us a lot this year. I'm excited to have them on the team."
Davies said it was fun just to be out on the court. When asked about his dunk, Davies wasn't shy with his response.
"I'm sure there will be a lot more where that came from," he said with a grin.
The Spartans recovered from BYU's big run in the first half, cutting the lead to as low as 11 points midway through the second half. Jacob Doerksen led Trinity Western with 28 points on 10 of 19 shooting two days after doing the same against Utah Valley University.