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BYU Outlasts Portland 97-88 in Provo

This was a match-up of mismatches. BYU, when playing West Coast Conference foes, is used to being the bigger school with the bigger gym. Tonight, Portland made sure it was the bigger team, for whatever that's worth.

BYU's Anson Winder got his first start of the season tonight against Portland.
BYU's Anson Winder got his first start of the season tonight against Portland.
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Reveno, for the second time this season, put Riley Barker into the starting line-up alongside Thomas van der Mars and Volodymyr Gerun. The Pilots began the game with three centers on the floor.

Dave Rose countered by giving Anson Winder his first start of the season. Four guards started for the Cougars. They looked to create a mismatch on every possession, forcing a big man to guard and keep up with a guard.

Portland showed it wasn't intimidated by the cavernous Marriott Center with a 9-0 run over three minutes to pull out to a five point lead, 15-10. The Cougars immediately responded with another roughly three minute long scoring run, this time 10-0, to take their own five point lead.

The Pilots may have started three centers, but it was their 5-foot-11 sophomore point guard who dominated the first half.

Alec Wintering totaled 15 points in the half on 3-4 shooting from the field and 11-12 from the free throw line.

Meanwhile, Dave Rose's four guard strategy was working quite well. Tyler Haws and Anson Winder had no problem getting past the Pilots' bigs for easy looks at the rim.

Portland hung within a possession or two of BYU for nearly all of the first half, until a pair of Chase Fischer free throws with 3:23 to play pushed the lead to eight. He hit a three on the next possession to extend it to nine.

The momentum of the growing lead carried over into the second half for the Cougars.

A 13-0 BYU run gave the Cougars a 67-50 lead with 12:55 to play. Less than two minutes later they led by 22. The lead would hover in the high teens for nearly of the remainder of the second half.

BYU failed to fully close the door on the game, and the Pilots deftly clawed their way back within seven points two times in the final two minutes. The Cougars kept their three possession lead but showed, as they have multiple times this season, a lack of killer instinct late.

That's the only worrisome aspect of the win for BYU.

Alec Wintering led all scorers with 30 points, a career high, in the loss. His Pilots fall to 10-4 (1-1) on the season. The tough sledding continues as they host No. 7 Gonzaga on New Year's Day.

Tyler Haws led the Cougars with 24 points — he needs to score just over 20 points per game henceforth to pass Jimmer Fredette and become BYU's all time leading scorer. Joining him in double-figures were Anson Winder (22 points), Kyle Collinsworth (21), Chase Fischer (16) and Skyler Halford (12).

Those five, all guards, combined for 95 of BYU's 97 points tonight.