The BYU Cougars were out-rebounded 27-13 in the first half, and tallied only five assists all game (they average almost 17 per). Freshman center Eric Mika returned from injury only to re-aggravate his hip collecting his fourth foul, then fouled out with about five minutes left to play. Once San Francisco applied the press, BYU looked like they had never seen it before, and they didn't make a shot the last four minutes.
San Francisco, on the other hand. turned the ball over 15 times, and missed six of their last nine shots from the field. They initially had no trouble matching physical wits with BYU, forcing contested shots, and sustaining movement on offense. But matching a physical opponent for 20 minutes and matching them for 40 minutes are not the same thing.
The Dons definitely had their moments, but for every positive, there was a negative. It wasn't until the last twelve minutes or so that BYU really started to assert themselves, and Cole Dickerson had a strong outing - 26 points and 14 rebounds, good for his fifth double-double of the season - but he managed only five points in the last ten and a half minutes, and he also had two turnovers and a couple missed shots, all of which were the result of a guy who was just physically burnt out.
Kruize Pinkins had a nice game for himself as well, racking up 14 points and 7 rebounds of his own, but it could have been so much more. Matched up against Mika down on the block, it took him the entire game to realize that the smart thing to do was to use his athleticism to get the big guy moving, not stand around and try to bang with him. That's a big reason why Mika fouled out and then Pinkins followed suit a few minutes later.
Not to take anything away from BYU. They are all about scoring (87.5 ppg ranks 4th nationally) and they made sure to stick with their game plan, even though it took time for things to really get rolling. Eventually it all started happening - Chris Adams got sloppy chasing Skyler Halford over the top of a screen, or tried to undercut the same play when guarding Matt Carlino (one of the best catch-and-shoot three point shooters in the game). Tyler Haws would charge the lane and get to the line. All the little things.
It showed up in the final line as well. Haws' 15 points were fourth for the Cougars, surpassed by Halford, Carlino and Kyle Collinsworth. This was the familiar BYU attack; aggressive, balanced, and able to eventually wear you into a combination of submission and fatigue-based mistakes.
BYU will continue a road trip that sends them to Santa Clara on Saturday before heading to Portland and Gonzaga. San Fran, who was looking like a bit of a dark horse prior to what is now back-to-back losses, will continue on what is a string of five straight home games, with number two coming Saturday against San Diego.
I enjoy watching BYU play, but after tonight I can't help but root for SFU going forward. Tonight was the fifth time in the last seven games that Pinkins either fouled out or spent most of the night in foul trouble - if he can figure out how to use his athleticism wisely, this Dons team is going to get hot and do some real damage from here on out.