Of BYU's six games, five have been against Division I competition and all five of those have been must see TV. Some have been because the Cougars topped 100 points while others, like this, were because the Cougars' high scoring style was matched, nearly equally, by their opponent.
Tonight's game was a victory for BYU, but it also exposed the Cougars' main deficiency. Let's start with the good news.
The Cougars began the season playing with a three-headed monster in the back-court. Super scorer Tyler Haws, point guard Matt Carlino and 6' 7" guard Kyle Collinsworth were putting up huge numbers and being efficient in doing so. Tonight, three headed monster wasn't as applicable as in games past. Haws scored 25 points, Carlino added 20 and Collinsworth had 13 on five of nine shooting, but there was a fourth head (and four-headed monster doesn't sound as good as three-headed). Frank Bartley's excellent freshman career continued tonight with 11 points, three of three from three, in 26 minutes off the bench.
The Cougars hit ten of their twelve three point attempts. Carlino hit back-to-back threes in the second minute of the game. Then, Bartley made back-to-back threes in the fifth minute of the game. Then, Matt Carlino made another three. BYU's scoring to begin the game was an Eric Mika lay-up followed by five threes.
Hot shooting, and the fact that they won the game, is the good news. Here's the bad news. Or, at the very least, the concerning news.
Without Brandon Davies, the Cougars' front court isn't at the level that it was last season. Eric Mika has played very, very well over the first six games of his career. If you watched BYU lose to Iowa State last week, you saw what happened when Mika left the game with an injury. If you didn't it was back-to-back buckets, near the basket, from Georges Niang. The freshman has been invaluable for the Cougars thus far.
Mika got into foul trouble tonight and when he did the 6' 11", 260lbs Nate Austin was tasked with defending the paint. Texas center Cameron Ridely, who is just 6' 9" but weighs 285lbs, had no problem pushing Austin around. As a result, Austin ended up in foul trouble as well. Luke Worthington came in to help but made almost no impact. The other forward, Josh Sharp, has all but gone missing (we know where he is, don't worry, he's on the end of the bench) and did not enter the game.
BYU does not have much quality depth in the front-court. Last season they weren't exceptionally deep, but they were skilled and exceptionally good at drawing fouls, especially Brandon Davies. And, when they went up against a big, menacing post player like Ridley, they would send in football player Bronson Kaufusi to play hack-a-Shaq.
A nine point BYU lead evaporated once fouls became an issue. The two teams traded leads over and over again before Texas pulled out to a five point lead with less than five to play. Eric Mika, and his four fouls, came back into the game and helped prevent Texas from exercising their will in the paint. Tyler Haws had a miraculous shot clock beater, along with a flurry of other buckets from him, that brought the Cougars back into the game. Haws' slow start but sizzling finish sealed up the sixth win of the season for the Cougars.
This back-court has carried the team so far and tonight it saved the team. They'll need to continue doing that until the front-court issues can be sorted out.