COMMENTARY — BYU’s football team got a nice rivalry win in its final regular-season game — a stirring, big-play 51-28 victory over Utah State. So, while the gridders await their bowl fate (bowl invitations are issued this Sunday), let’s talk a bit about basketball.
I must confess — I’m scared.
This past week is a perfect example. The Cougars struggled against Mississippi Valley State, pulling out a 75-68 win in the Marriott Center. These Delta Devils are not good. They are currently 0-8, losing to teams like Tennessee Tech (by 37), Gulf Coast (by 34), and New Mexico State (by 39).
And yet, BYU shot just 40 percent in the game and 20 percent from 3-point land. MVSU had the ball, down just five with a minute left before a missed 3 led to a clinching dunk by Kyle Davis.
All this against a very bad team.
Then Belmont visits Provo. The Bruins, out of the Ohio Valley Conference, aren’t exactly Duke or Carolina, but they are a good program with an NCAA Tournament resume (last year, they lost to No. 2-seed Virginia by 12 points in the first round of the Big Dance). Belmont had already beaten Marquette and were in the game late in a nine-point loss at Arizona State.
But the Cougars destroyed the Bruins in the second half. Down 42-40 at the break, Kyle Collinsworth and the Cougars spent eight intense minutes turning the game into a blowout. At the under 12 timeout, BYU turned that two-point deficit into a 70-56 lead — a 30-14 run that sent the Bruins packing (final score: 95-81). The Cougs hit 13 of 27 3-pointers in the game, 48 percent.
While Cougar fans should be thrilled that they are 4-1, the loss to Long Beach and the close game against Mississippi Valley State are good indicators that BYU is an inconsistent team.
So, what’s to be done about it. Well, nothing. That’s the way this team is set up. BYU’s heart and soul is offense, and particularly the 3-pointer. When it’s hitting (like in the second half vs. Belmont), the Cougars are nearly unbeatable. Chase Fischer and Nick Emery are streaky and when they get hot, well, batten down the hatches.
It’s fun to watch and it’s helped BYU gain some fantastic accolades over the past decade. Remember Jimmer Fredette and Tyler Haws? Those guys were great college players, but without the up-tempo, bombs-away system that Dave Rose runs, they don’t score as many points as they did, and thusly, don’t win as many awards.
So, for better or for worse, BYU is going to keep bombing away. Some nights, the buckets will come fast and furious.
But on other nights, the shots won’t fall.
And that can be downright scary.
Note: BYU plays Utah tonight at the Huntsman Center and then plays a day game at home vs. Weber State on Saturday (1 p.m. tipoff).
Blue Blood is a sports column written by Andy Griffin and the opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of St. George News.
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