(Photo by Kylea Knecht/BYU Photo)
Brock Zylstra made 3 shots in a row in the first half and went 6 of 8 from the field for 14 points before halftime. Zylstra finished with a career-high 26 points to lead all scorers.
Anson Winder set a new career high, scoring 17 points in the half on perfect shooting (6 of 6) including 5 of 5 from behind the arc. Winder finished with 20 points for the game on 7 of 8 shooting.
In his first career start and second career game, Matt Carlino went for a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists. The freshman added 7 rebounds and 3 steals. The last time a BYU player had double digit assists was against Southern in 2009 when Jimmer Fredette had 10.
Noah Hartsock hit his first five shots of the second half for 11 points after missing his only shot in the first period. Finishing with 16 points, Hartsock continues his streak, scoring in double figures every game this year.
Head coach Dave Rose went with a new starting lineup of Matt Carlino, Brock Zylstra, Charles Abouo, Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies. It is the fourth different starting lineup this year.
Struggling early, BYU went to the bench and it didn’t disappoint with 27 points in the first half. Winder scored a team-high 17 off the bench and Nate Austin pulled down 8 rebounds before the break.
BYU tied a season-high with 47 points in the first half and finished with 46 more in the second half.
The Cougars slew of freshmen totaled 29 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists in the first half and as many as four freshmen were on the floor at the same time. The freshmen finished with 41 points, 18 assists, 16 rebounds and 5 steals.
BYU assisted on 29 of 34 baskets for 85.3 percent. The 29 assists is a season high for the team and the fifth-highest total in program history.
The Cougars fell behind 17-6, missing six shots in a row with over 15 minutes remaining in the first half. BYU then made 5 of 6 field goals to cut the lead to 18-15 over the next two minutes.
After tying the game at 25-25 with a 3-pointer, Winder followed it up with two more treys in a row and Zylstra scored on a fast break layup as part of an 8-0 run to take a 33-27 lead with 9 minutes remaining in the half.
Buffalo tied the score at 37-37 with just over four minutes left in the half. BYU came back with a 10-2 run to close the half, taking a 47-39 lead into the break.
Hartsock scored the first 9 points of the half for BYU out of the break to stretch the lead to 56-45 with 17:00 remaining.
Zylstra drained his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 7:49 remaining to give the Cougars a 79-63 lead. Four minutes later, Hartsock made another jumper to give BYU a 20-point lead at 85-65.
Head Coach Dave Rose
"I’m really impressed with Buffalo. Reggie (Witherspoon) has got a great team; he’s got a team that plays together. Those two post guys are really efficient inside. They lost their really good point guard but he (Reggie) has just done a really good job of getting the guys he has to play hard."
"They really took advantage of us early on. We knew what we needed to do but they came out and scored every way possible. I think at the four-minute timeout they were on pace to score about 160."
"I give credit to our guys, though, those that didn’t start the game. They came off the bench and scored to get us back in the game. Nate was terrific tonight. His minutes, because of Brandon and Noah’s foul trouble, were substantial. What I look at tonight is our team got better and we built confidence as we played. I think our game didn’t start the way we wanted but eventually we got it to the pace we wanted."
Junior guard Brock Zylstra
"It shouldn’t have been a slow start. I think it was just us not being totally focused on playing our game. Good thing we had Anson to come in for us."
"I didn’t actually realize that (about the freshmen playing well) but our players are all ready to come in and it’s great for our freshman to come in and make plays. They build their confidence."
Freshman guard Anson Winder
"After that first shot went in I was feeling pretty confident but it’s all credit to my teammates. I do what I can to contribute and help out the team. I don’t think Coach would put anyone on the court that wasn’t ready to score."
Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon
"We executed our man to man really well in the first few minutes of the game, but then we stopped being assertive with the ball and we turned the ball over way too many times. We got too mechanical and didn’t respond with enough effort."
"BYU is a very good team and they played very well tonight. We knew they would shoot the ball well from 3-point range, but you can’t give a team like BYU open looks. We make some mistakes in that regard as well."