The 2014-2015 BYU Cougars are radically different than the previous edition, but from the sloppy defense and high octane offense it's hard to tell. The Cougars won their first, and likely far from last, shootout of the season in Provo.
McKay LaSalle had a homecoming of sorts. The senior starter was playing in front of friends and family just an hour south of his hometown of Bountiful, Utah. He put on a show for them in the first half with 12 points, all of which came from distance. LaSalle and the 49ers used seven first half three pointers to hang with the high scoring Cougars.
LaSalle wasn't even supposed to be starting. A game day suspension of Tyler Lamb forced Dan Monson to insert the Utahn into the starting five.
While LaSalle had some people in the stands for him, the rest of the eyes in the Marriott Center were on Kyle Collinsworth's knee. Expected to see limited minutes in his first game back after tearing his ACL in March, Collinsworth was expected to see limited minutes. Two quick fouls forced the issue of limiting his minutes.
Collinsworth played just 13 minutes in the game.
The 49ers forced 17 turnovers and pulled down eight offensive rebounds in the first half to stay in the game. A lack of chemistry among the 13 Cougars to see the floor in the first half didn't translate into crisp play. Long Beach State took a 47-46 lead into the break.
BYU opened the second half on a 7-0 run. Nate Austin knocked down a three to give the Cougars the lead. Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth followed that with back-to-back lay-ups that led Dan Monson to call a timeout. After that offensive burst to start the half the Cougars ratcheted up the defensive pressure.
The 49ers pulled down only two offensive rebounds in the second half after living on second chance points in the first half.
Tyler Haws picked up right where he left off last season with a team high 21 points. Mike Caffey led all scorers with 26 points. Both teams shot over 50% from the field.