BYU cooks Rice, 95-56

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    By Marc Owen

    While off to an impressive 4-0 start, the men”s basketball team faces its biggest test when they hit the road this week.

    After winning the Paradise Jam and the home opener against Rice, the team heads to Tempe, Ariz. and Nebraska for the team”s first road games of the year.

    The Cougars are carrying momentum after soundly defeating Rice on Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Marriott Center, 95-56.

    The win moved the Cougars to 4-0 on the season and increased BYU”s home winning streak to 37 games, the longest current streak in the nation.

    In a game that really was never close, BYU out played Rice in nearly every aspect, outscoring the Owls 26-8 in the paint while shooting 62 percent on field goals.

    Head coach Steve Cleveland said blowouts like this one won”t come around that often.

    “On a rare occasion, you have a game like this, where everything falls for you and they can”t hit anything.”

    The Cougars and the Owls played a tight first eight minutes, with the score tied at 16. Then BYU pulled away, never to see Rice close the gap. The Cougars went on a 33-6 run over the next nine minutes behind the tough inside play of sophomore forward Jared Jensen. Jensen scored 12 points in that run.

    BYU”s last shot of the first half was indicative of how things went in the first-half for both teams.

    Sophomore forward John Allen pulled down an errant Rice shot attempt with about five seconds to go on the half. Allen passed to junior guard Kevin Woodberry who raced to mid-court and heaved a shot as the buzzer sounded. The shot banked in, giving BYU a 56-29 half-time lead.

    BYU shot a scorching 70 percent in the first-half while holding Rice to just 37 percent from the field.

    Nothing much changed in the second half as the Cougars continued to abuse the visiting Owls.

    Senior guard Travis Hansen, who scored 9 points, said everything started for the Cougars on the defensive end.

    “Getting stops on defense is what energized us,” Hansen said.

    The Cougars defensive pressure forced the Owls into a frigid 29.6 shooting percentage from the field in the second half.

    The Cougars cooled down a bit themselves too, shooting 50 percent in the second half.

    The Cougars were led on the offensive end by junior forward Mark Bigelow and Jensen. Bigelow scored 19 points while connecting on seven of ten shots. Jensen chipped in 18.

    Woodberry said the Cougars are able to dictate what happens on the court when they play a focused game.

    “It”s going to be hard for anyone to beat us when we come out with that kind of intensity level,” Woodberry said.

    The Cougars, however, pointed out that they didn”t play perfect game.

    “We could have done a lot of things better,” said Woodberry. “A lot of times we rushed a lot of quick shots.”

    Cleveland said if BYU continues to play well, conference play could be a lot of fun.

    “I think this team has the potential to be a very good basketball team in January,” Cleveland said.

    This week, the Cougars face Arizona State and Creighton. Not counting games on a neutral court, BYU has an 11-game losing streak on the road.

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