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FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- Following the No. 14 BYU men's basketball team's ongoing theme during the last two weeks, another unlikely player stepped up to help lead the Cougars (28-4, 13-3 MWC) to victory.
BYU defensive specialist Charles Abouo answered the call Saturday against the Horned Frogs (13-18, 5-11 MWC), scoring what was easily a career high 22 points, adding five rebounds and three assists.
Abouo was one of three Cougars to score more than 20 points as the Cougars made a statement against the Frogs, winning 107-77. The 6-foot-5 inch sophomore was one of the catalysts for his team, which trailed 18-4 3:37 into the game.
"They made their first seven shots," Abouo told KSL Newsradio after the game. "They got some very easy shots, so we just focused on coming out and giving a better effort defensively to get ourselves going."
BYU Head Coach Dave Rose said TCU's hot start was a good wake-up call for his team.
"It just tells you how important being ready and coming out and playing every minute of every game is," Rose told KSL Newsradio.
Get going they did, as Abouo and his teammates went on a 27-11 run to tie the game at 31 points. The Cougars headed into the break with a 57-43 lead, and never looked back, leading by as much as 32 points in the second half. Abouo was quite efficient, scoring his points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 2 for 2 from 3-point range in only 26 minutes of play.
For the second consecutive game, the bench players seemed to outplay the starters, and proved to be the difference in the game.
"We've have a very deep team and we've got plenty of guys who can play, and that's one thing that makes us very good."
BYU swingman Jonathan Tavernari (23) and guard Jackson Emery (22) were the other two players scoring more than 20 points. Emery filled the stat sheet, adding two rebounds, five assists, two blocks and five steals. Tavernari also did damage aside from scoring, grabbing four rebounds, adding three assists and three steals.
Jimmer Fredette, still recovering from a recent stomach flu, looked closer to full health, scoring 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting to go with five assists and two steals.
For the second consecutive season, the Cougars' first round game in the MWC tournament will be a rematch of its final regular season game. The Cougars will once again prepare to face the Horned Frogs Thursday at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Although his team will face the same team next week, Rose said he expects to see a different TCU team at the MWC tournament.
"My initial thoughts are that (the next) game will be a lot different, as far as the pace of the game," Rose said. "That start that they got off to was terrific, but it actually got the pace of the game at a pace that we like to play. And TCU normally doesn't play us that way… I would bet that (the next game) will be a lot more of a half court, grind it out type of game."
BYU, the second seed in the MWC tournament, will square off against the Horned Frogs, the seventh seed, Thursday at 7 p.m.