SALT LAKE CITY — Easy, in case you didn't know, comes in different forms. This one Saturday for BYU was a grind. It was also never a really big challenge.
Utah, as expected, couldn't hang around until even close to the final buzzer against the Cougars in a 61-42 win by the visitors.
A 25-17 halftime lead for the Cougars at the Huntsman Center, as ugly as it came, was more than enough.
Utah, in advancing its losing streak to eight games, didn't even get to 26 points until eight minutes escaped the second-half clock. And after that came a five-minute scoring drought.
"It really became kind of a grind, especially in the first half," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "We were having a hard time scoring — both teams."
Eventually, though, the realistic statuses of each team was going to take over.
BYU (8-2) received 25 of 30 combined total points in the second half from seniors Charles Abouo and Noah Hartsock.
"Coach just wanted us to go out, continue to fight the pace of the game and be really aggressive," said Abouo, who didn't have a shot in the opening half yet finished with 11 points on 4-of-6 accuracy from the field.
Hartsock, who had all five first-half points by being perfect from the foul line, made six of his seven shots from the field in the closing 20 minutes, when BYU held a 36-25 scoring advantage.
Utah was led by point guard Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, who had 14 on 6-of-15 shooting. Just imagine if his indefinite suspension lasted more than one game.
That was about all that could be left to the imagination.
New coach Larry Krystkowiak insisted that Watkins had met a handful of criteria in order to make Watkins eligible for the rivalry game. Yet Utah was also coming off a 31-point loss at home -- the worst in the school's history playing on the Hill -- and may have been stomped further if not for Watkins' presence, and the Utes seeming to be more than happy to bring the game to a style in which they at least assured not getting blown out by 40 points.
"It was exactly how we expected it to be," Rose said, alluding to Utah's tendency to play physical inside on defense and run down the shot clock at all costs at the other end of the floor.
But other patterns held up, too.
The Cougars, despite missing their first six shots and scoring their second-fewest total number of points, had no trouble winning their sixth in a row in the series; and 10 of 11.
Rose is 11-3 against three different Utah coaches in his 6-plus years.
BYU trailed 5-1 five minutes into the contest before Brandon Davies had an inside basket.
Early, BYU really struggled to put together consecutive strong possessions. So after a Hartsock turnover, he hit a couple of free throws to make it a 5-all score.
After two more wasted trips to the offensive end of the floor, Craig Cusick scored the first three of his 10 points to give BYU an 8-5 margin at the 12:10 mark. Backup center Nate Austin followed with a long shot in his fourth consecutive game. Utah never led again, in part because of the former Ute Cusick's solid 28 minutes in place of the ineffective Anson Winder.
Cusick admitted he came in with an "extra added amount of focus" to play his old school, which he also said he was happy to have made the move from being a walk-on there to now fighting for starting minutes closer to home.
Gee, wonder why.
BYU fans also had no shyness about wearing blue and getting close to the floor for seats among the crowd of 10,327.
The half-hearted insults by Utah's meager student section included some yelling at Hartsock that he was the only good player on the Cougars' roster.
Hartsock smiled at the jab.
"There are a lot of good players," he said.
Maybe it didn't quite show on this particular day, in which BYU shot a season-low 38 percent from the field, but it was more than enough.
How little it took for the Cougars to keep their dominance had to kill the rival more than anything.