It's hard to imagine a better conference home opener than this one, for BYU fans, especially coming on the heels of an absurd insult they just absorbed from arch-rival Utah.
The Cougars, now 11-5 (2-1) on the season, had a happy home opener thanks in part to a quintessential display of BYU basketball. In 78 possessions, averaging a mere 15 seconds each, the Cougars scored 97 points. For the eighth time in the last nine games BYU scored at least 80 points.
Quintessential because of Kyle Collinsworth's performance, as well. Yeah, he got a triple-double. Yeah, we're getting used to that. It's his third of the season and ninth of his career. Collinsworth already set the single season NCAA record last year and he set the career record earlier this year.
That's not all Collinsworth accomplished tonight.
ICYMI (we did): In the first half, Kyle Collinsworth (542) passed Danny Ainge (539) for second in assists at BYU #BYUhoops— BYU Game Notes (@BYUGameNotes) January 8, 2016
For less than one minute the game was tied, and BYU never trailed after their first bucket.
Santa Clara couldn't get shots to fall. Their star, Jared Brownridge (16 points) couldn't find a rhythm either, at least early. His first field goal didn't come until the 8:20 mark of the first half. This is the same guy who nearly singlehandedly took down Arizona in overtime.
Brownridge did find his rhythm after making that first bucket and finished the first half with 14 points.
But BYU came out of the break on a tear. An 11-2 run over two minutes to open the second half completely blew the game open for the Cougars.
Freshman guard KJ Feagin showed the heart that has kept Santa Clara in so many games this season. While he finished with nine points, below his season average of 10.3, he was fearless in attacking the basket even against likes of former football player Corbin Kaufusi.
With Brownridge neutralized in the second, and the Broncos bigs getting into foul trouble, there wasn't much left to do but watch as the Cougars tried to get Collinsworth his triple double.
In the final minutes, with BYU's lead hovering around 30 points, it may have seemed curious why Collinsworth and fellow starters Chase Fischer (13 points) and Nick Emery (game high 23 points) were still on the floor. It wasn't to the Cougar faithful, who filled the Marriott Center with screams of, "shoot it!" It didn't matter if it was Kaufusi catching the ball outside the three point line, or if Collinsworth was passing out of pressure from the backcourt.
Whenever the 6-foot-6 senior passed the ball the crowd wanted whoever caught it to shoot it. Eventually it was seldom used Braiden Shaw who obliged, gave Collinsworth his tenth assist, and put the game away.
The Cougars host San Francisco on Saturday while Santa Clara heads south to San Diego.