On the night when BYU legends Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson had their jerseys retired, the men’s basketball team cruised by the Portland Pilots for a 86–72 victory.
Although they came off two losses, the BYU men’s basketball team (19-8, 9-4 WCC) was anxious to get back on track against Portland (10-18, 3-10 WCC).
“Any time that happens, you come out focused because you’ve been sitting around just practicing and you want to play someone else,” guard Craig Cusick said. “It was great to be able to come out with our guys and get a win.”
Cusick, who started in place of Josh Sharp on Saturday night, finished with 10 points and seven assists. Tyler Haws scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Matt Carlino also contributed with 10 points, seven assists and a block. The Cougars shared the ball and finished with 26 assists, second highest of the season, on 34 made field goals.
“I was really pleased with how we shared the ball on offense,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “The huge emphasis over the last week was trying to get our guys to compete together as a group on both ends of the floor.”
Rose was also proud of how his players contested shots, executed the game plan and trusted each other. BYU’s defense in the first half is what ultimately gave the team the 46–25 halftime lead as the Cougars only allowed the Pilots to shoot 33 percent from the field.
“I thought our defense was really good in the first half,” Haws said. “We had some lapses in the second half, but we’re really focusing on being a better team defensively and not give up easy baskets.”
Brandon Davies, who finished with 23 points, five assists and three blocks, passed Kresimir Cosic and Jonathan Tavernari on BYU’s all-time scoring list and now stands 12th overall with 1,529 career points. Davies’ teammates and coach shared nothing but praise for Davies as a great teammate and player. Rose continues to have high expectations for his senior forward.
“When he’s good, he’s really good,” Rose said. “Consistency is the key for him. He challenges himself, coaches challenge him and teammates encourage him. We need him to be good every night — really good every night.”
The Cougars remain positive and focused as they approach their last few weeks of conference play. Haws said there’s still a lot to play for and that the Cougars are continuing to get better as a team.
“Our players have a lot of fight in them,” Rose said. “That’s really positive for our staff. The huge part of trying to be consistent and being successful is to compete and continue to compete together as a group when you have some setbacks and you have some disappointments. I’m really pleased with the week and the results of this game.”
Cusick is proud of his team’s attitude and the way it has approached the season.
“Everyone wants to play, but the thing about this team that makes it special is that every player on the team has a good attitude,” Cusick said. “The guys on the bench that aren’t playing minutes, I’ve been there, they’re just as important as the guys on the court. The attitude and the positivity that everyone brings is what makes a team special, so we need to keep that going.”
BYU welcomes Utah State to the Marriott Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m MST. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and KSL radio.
“We did it as a team before, we’re going up there together,” were the words of Mel Hutchins. He refused to have his jersey retired without his partner-in-crime, Roland Minson.
During halftime, the jerseys of Hutchins and Minson were retired in front of thousands of BYU fans. The all-time great Cougars reminisced on their amazing 1950-51 NIT championship run, where Minson was awarded the MVP. Hutchins also reminded the fans of the great coach they had in Stan Watts.
They were joined by family and members of the 1951 NIT Championship team.
“It’s a big surprise,” Minson said. “We played way back when we still wore those funny-looking shorts. The thing that’s been nicest for me about all this is to renew those old memories, all those good times.”
Neither of them ever believed they would have the honor to have their jerseys retired. The present players on the BYU basketball team had the chance to meet with the former Cougars and learned the importance of basketball as a team sport and how successful teams are built. Rose appreciates the history of BYU’s basketball program and credits Hutchins and Minson on setting the standards.
“I love the history of our program because of the tradition that attracts players from all over,” Rose said. “We’ve had a lot of guys that have played here and we’ve been successful for a long time and hopefully we keep that up.”