By Ethan Thomas
BYU men?s basketball team extends their home win streak to 30, despite one of their poorest shooting outings of the season, in a 76-67 victory against Colorado State.
The Cougars jumped out to a 7-2 lead early on, off of a Keena Young jumper and two athletic plays by Trent Plaisted. On the first Plaisted laid it in while getting hammered and hit the ensuing free throw. The second was a Jimmy Balderson feed that ended in a powerful Plaisted dunk. The crowd of 18,767 was loud from the get-go.
However, that was as pretty as the first half would get.
Throughout the rest of the half the Cougars and Rams bumped and bruised each other throughout to 18 personal fouls and many others could have been called.
?Their big guys are big, so for some of us that have to rebound and block out, it was really physical,? BYU forward Lee Cummard said.
The big men of Colorado State, Jason Smith and Stuart Creason, played up to their hype. On defense they harassed the Cougar big men and altered many shots. On offense they showed their presence as well, Creason ended the half with 11 points and Smith had eight. The only other player for the Rams to score in the half was Tyler Smith.
The Cougars had a balanced attack on the offensive end. Austin Ainge had nine, while Young, who had eight in the half, finally found his game in the closing moments and helped extend to BYU?s lead to 37-28.
When the second half began, Young wasted no time getting started. He scored the Cougars first seven points in the half and the lead was 44-33.
BYU continued to have success, as Young got even more comfortable amongst the two seven-footers.
?They are big, once you pass one the other is near by,? Young said. ?I was just lucky to get a few shots off.?
However, with about four minutes remaining in the game the Rams made a run and pulled to within five. It was then that Cummard stole the ball at the top of the key and with the crowd roaring, threw down a two handed fast-break dunk.
The ensuing possessions left BYU on the foul line, where Cummard hit 10-for-10 on the night.
Even shooting 2 for 17 from the 3-point line the Cougars were able to squeak out a key victory against a tough Colorado State team. Pressure defense that forced the Rams 20 turnovers and winning the rebounding battle helped put BYU in position to win. BYU is now 20-0 when winning the battle of the boards.
?I thought it was a good team win,? said BYU coach Dave Rose. ?We defended well, and got a good win despite not shooting the ball that well.?
Cummard finished with a career-high 20 points, but the leading scorer once again was Young who finished with 24.
With the win BYU improves to 21-6 overall and 11-2 in the conference. With one more win BYU will clinch at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title. With two they will clinch the title outright for the first time in 19 years.