Lee Cummard scored a game-high 18 points in the Cougars' win over Portland on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PORTLAND -- After a week off, the No. 21 BYU men's basketball team defeated the Portland Pilots 78-54 Saturday night, improving to 6-1 on the season. The Cougars are now 6-0 when scoring at least 70 points this season and 4-0 when holding opponents under the 70-point mark.
"I'm really proud of our players," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "We had really great practices this week as far as effort is concerned, but we didn't execute nearly as well as we usually do. Tonight we came out and executed well."
Lee Cummard's game-high 18 points led four Cougars scoring in double figures. Trent Plaisted finished the game with 16 points, Jonathan Tavernari with 13 points and Jimmer Fredette with 11 points. Senior point guard Ben Murdock continued his trend of good ball-handling, recording 10 assists.
Plaisted also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. As a team, the Cougars outrebounded Portland, 41-27, and held the Pilots to .362 shooting from the field.
BYU got out to an early 8-3 lead to begin the game with consecutive three-pointers by Tavernari and Cummard. The team cooled down midway through the half, going scoreless for three minutes until a lay-up by Vuk Ivanovic put the Cougars up 15-9.
Tavernari scored a baseline jumper on an assist from Ivanovic with 10:04 remaining in the first half. Ivanovic continued to make his presence known, creating a Portland turnover and scoring on a put-back missed shot by Nick Martineau.
Chris Miles drew cheers from the large crowd of BYU supporters when he entered the game later in the first half. In August, Miles returned home from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he served in the Portland area.
"We had a full house of BYU fans," said Rose. "They came out and supported us. They were really loud, which was a good feeling for our team."
A Pilot turnover resulted in fast-break points for Murdock to end the first half.
With a 14-point advantage at the break, BYU has led at the half in six of its seven games this season, going 6-0. BYU has held a double-digit lead at halftime in five of its seven games so far this season, going 5-0 in those games.
The Cougars came out to a fast start to begin the second half. BYU would go on a 17-2 run, recording its largest lead of the game at 29 points with 15:56 remaining in the game. The run was fueled by back-to-back three-pointers from Tavernari and Sam Burgess.
"In the second half, especially the first 10 minutes, we were really good, not only in terms of focus and energy, but our execution," said Rose.
Portland quickly cut into BYU's lead on three three-pointers by the Pilots' Jared Stohl. A 19-5 run put Portland back in the game until quick offensive play by the Cougars created more scoring opportunities, including an open trey by Cummard.
Fredette scored his first points of the game as he drove to the basket with 10:43 on the clock. Fredette's fast-break lay-up a few plays later put the Cougars back up 66-44. Miles then blocked a Pilot shot, and Fredette pulled down the rebound and scored a three-pointer on the other end. From there, BYU cruised to the 78-54 win.
"Jimmer [Fredette] really gave us a lift in the second half," said Rose. "He's getting a lot better defensively. He needs to come in and give us a lift like he did tonight. He'll be a key player in our team's success this year."
Up next BYU will host Weber State on Wednesday at 7:30 MT in the Marriott Center. The Cougars will be looking to extend their home win streak, already the nation's second-longest, to 35 games.
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