BYU (12-1) put its 53-game home winning streak on the line tonight against undefeated Wake Forest. After looking overmatched early, the Cougars found their stroke and led most of the second half before falling 94-87.
Some quick thoughts:
1. BYU got their lead by hitting from distance. Jimmer Fredette, Tavenari and Jackson Emery were huge. At one point, the team was 10-23 from downtown, an impressive number against a top-10 team. But at the same time, I kept thinking, "live by the 3, die by the 3." And ultimately, that's what happened. BYU ended shooting 29.4% from the 3-point line for the game. Tav shot 4-13 from behind the arc, many of those misses coming when just one deep make would have changed everything. I love his quick release and general accuracy, but he is flat out stupid in his decision making. Until he learns the difference between a good shot and a bad one, I'll never be a fan of his.
2. Cummard choked. For someone shooting 62% from the field on the season, going 6-20 is just abysmal. He was short on most of his shots late and looked tired. If he has a halfway decent outing, BYU wins this game.
3. BYU missed the front end of several one-and-one situations. Leaving free points on the line hurts. They shot 75% from the line for the game, but it seems all five of their misses came in the last five minutes.
4. The refereeing was tight tight tight. They whistled both teams for everything under the sun. Slight bump on the way to the hoop? Foul. Player touched the shoe of the dunking opponent? Foul. Ruffled the arm hair of your opponent while stealing the ball? Foul. I felt like the tight calls affected both teams fairly equally, but as a BYU homer, certain instances really stand out. Wake also got the benefit on two obvious, terrible flops, one of which fouled out BYU's backup center after the Cougars had already lost their starting 5 to fouling out. But if BYU makes their free throws or hits just one more shot in the final two minutes, they probably win. Ugh.
In all, a typical BYU performance against a big-time opponent. Lead late, then collapse at the end. It's getting a bit eerie.
Quick gear change: I was utterly dumbfounded at how Utah controlled the trenches last night. They had Wilson running for his life while Johnson had all day to throw. And that pretty much decided the game. I think Alabama panicked and went away from the running game too quickly... do you really want to rely on Wilson's arm? He's a terrible quarterback. Similar to the BYU game in that respect.
But all the congratulations in the world to Utah. Majorly impressive victory in a game where no one gave them half a chance to win. Thanks for representing the conference while the Cougars are terrible. :)