Coming into the season, Cougar coach Dave Rose said he'd be looking for his players to spread the ball around and make as many individual contributions to the team's success as they could.
Well, that's exactly what he got on Tuesday night in Provo, as the BYU men's basketball team sailed its way to a 90-51 victory over Prairie View A&M in the second round of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
Rose used 11 players in this contest. Ten of them scored, including seven from beyond the arc and five tallying double digits; 10 got rebounds, nine gave assists and seven made steals.
The best stat, however, at least from the coach's list of priorities, is 20 assists on 29 field goals.
"As the game went on, we got better. We got better as a team," Rose said. "We had a lot of guys that stepped up for us in their respective positions and we're pleased with the win. We're ready to get back to practice tomorrow and then prepare to head out to Chicago."
The game started a little ragged on both sides of the ball, with several missed shots and turnovers before either team could get on the scoreboard. It stayed close until the final five minutes of the initial period, when the host school began to pull away.
The Cougars led 34-25 at the break, but used an 18-2 run early in the second half to turn a competitive contest into a blowout. Part of that success also rested in the use of the zone defense.
"We were really active in the zone and it worked for us tonight, especially in the second half," Rose said. "I think it was successful and allowed us a lot of opportunities to get the ball in our possession and convert on turnovers."
The coach had to be pleased with the production of his bench. The reserves provided 41 points, including a team-high 18 from Stephen Rogers.
"Stephen has been great off the bench. He comes in and really gives us a lift," he said. "His length really causes problems for other teams defensively, and that's a huge strength for him and us."
Rogers said he was just fine with his position in the rotation.
"Of course everybody wants to start, but that's not the role the coach wants me in just now, so I go out there and do everything I can to help my team," he said.
"It's the beginning of the year and we're still trying to figure out who fits where," Rogers added. "The guys get more comfortable as time goes on and I'm getting more into the flow of things."
Anson Winder scored 11 with four assists in 21 minutes, backing up Craig Cusick at the point.
"Anson has responded really well to playing more minutes," the coach said. "He's playing well and I know how hard he's worked, so that's good for him. He's definitely progressing in every game he plays.
"As we got more energy from the crowd we were scoring the ball well," Rose went on. At times, the individual plays resembled auditions for a highlight reel, especially during the second period.
Particular Marriott Center crowd pleasers included a follow dunk by Charles Abouo, an inbound give-and-go from Brandon Davies to Brock Zylstra for a smooth trey, a bucket off a nifty spin move underneath by Noah Hartsock, and any of the team's six blocks.
Davies finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Abouo added 13 points, seven boards, three assists and two steals. Hartsock tallied 12 with three big blocks.
Despite the two blowout wins, Rose said the team still has a long way to go.
"We have a lot of new players," he said. "You look out there at any given time and there could be four guys who were not with us last year and are still learning our system.
"We have a lot to work on," he added. "Probably the top two things are to take care of the ball and being able to make the right play in transition. I think we're making plays but we're missing a lot of opportunities to score.
"The timing of our passes is another thing we can really improve on," Rose concluded.
Tip-ins: In the last two games, the Cougars have dropped in 27 treys combined, setting a new mark for a two-game stretch. The previous record was 26. The team has shot 56.3 percent from downtown in the last two games. ... Rogers set a new career high with his 18 tonight, and a new two-game total with his 17 in the last contest. ... The attendance was 11,760.
Beky Beaton can be reached at email@example.com.