Basketball Downs Wildcats, Prepares for Michigan State


    By James Littlejohn

    It would have been easy for the Cougars to overlook Weber State Wednesday with their upcoming opportunity to play a big game against a big team, No. 9 Michigan State, in a big venue, EnergySolutions Arena. BYU didn”t let that happen though, and as usual it took care of business at home winning comfortably 72-57.

    For those of you still counting, that extends BYU”s home win streak to 35 games – the Cougars haven”t lost in the Marriott Center since 2005. It was a typical effort for BYU, characterized by balanced scoring, solid shooting and crisp ball movement. Oh, and the defense wasn”t too bad either, as the Cougars held Weber State to 33 percent shooting and had eight blocks and eight steals as a team.

    “We felt the number one key for the game would be to contest shots and make them work hard,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “We executed our defensive game plan tonight.”

    Five of those eight blocks came from center Trent Plaisted, who also scored 14 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Three other players were in double figures for BYU. Sam Burgess led all scorers with 16 and Lee Cummard and Jonathan Tavernari each put in 14 points.

    “We played well on defense and when we needed to we executed well on offense,” Plaisted said.

    The Cougars can now shift their attention to Michigan State. Both the Spartans and the Cougars are 7-1 on the season and both are ranked in the top 20-BYU is currently No. 20 and Michigan State is No. 9. This will be BYU”s third game of the season against a ranked opponent.

    “Michigan State is a great team,” Plaisted said. “They are one of the toughest teams in college basketball, but we”re pretty tough-minded ourselves and it”s going to be a battle for 40 minutes.”

    Last year on Dec. 9 BYU lost to Michigan State 76-61 in the ”neutral” Palace at Auburn Hills, the home of the Detroit Pistons,. This year the game will be played at another slightly neutral site, EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, the home of the Utah Jazz. Tickets are almost gone and with two ranked opponents set to battle, it should be one of the best games of the year. Fans that cannot go up to Salt Lake City for Saturday”s game can watch it on BYU-TV.

    Are the players excited?

    “Well, if you can”t get up for a game like this, then you don”t belong to play,” Burgess said. “We”ll be ready for it and hopefully we can play the game we want to.”

    Coach Rose is taking, as always, a business-like approach to the upcoming foe.

    “It”s a really good team that will help us prepare for our conference schedule,” Rose said.

    That is a quote you might hear from Michigan State players and coaches about BYU.

    Following his team”s defeat Wednesday, Weber State coach Randy Rahe had plenty of compliments for the Cougars.

    “We saw a very good team tonight,” he said. “They are every bit as good as advertised.”

    Game tip-off will be at 2 p.m.

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