The non-conference schedule is the time BYU figured it would be challenged, and find out its strengths and weaknesses.
Consider defense the most glaring aspect of these Cougars. Or, the lack of it.
BYU set marks of historical ineptitude in a 105-96 loss at UMass on Saturday afternoon.
"We just had a hard time controlling their penetration, and we knew that was something we were going to have to do," BYU coach Dave Rose said on his post-game radio show (KSL).
It was the most points a BYU team has allowed in a loss since the 1996-97 season, a defeat at TCU during the infamous one-win campaign. Not exactly the message BYU thought it needed, or what it would deliver, in a trip to Springfield, Mass., to play a nationally ranked team for the third time this season.
It was also the first time current head coach Dave Rose has lost in 49 games when his team has scored at least 90 points.
Zone didn't work early, and man-to-man and sprinkled in pieces of pressure hardly afflicted the No. 21-ranked Minutemen, who improved to 8-0 behind some history of their own.
Point guard Chaz Williams, a diminutive scrapper from the New York City area, had 32 points (an individual record) and 15 assists (tied for a school record) as his team shot 55 percent from the field.
UMass had 29 assists compared to BYU's 15, quantifying just the kind of day it was for both teams.
BYU fell to 7-3, all three losses coming to ranked opponents. Wichita State, Iowa State and UMass are the culprits.
"This team caused us the most problems," Rose said, a fair assessment because BYU never led by double digits this time. "The way they could spread out our zone defense with shooters was tough."
A lot of it was set up by Williams, a pest of the highest order.
"Trying to keep Williams out of the key was really hard," BYU center Eric Mika said. "He is really quick."
The Cougars were led by Tyler Haws' 25 points. His game was affected with about nine minutes left in the first half. A UMass player was called for a foul after knocking down Haws as BYU's star tried to slice through a teammate's screen.
But Haws was also called for a retaliation as he was on the floor and appeared to throw his leg out.
Mika recorded a technical foul, as well, on the play. Counting as personal fouls, they put two Cougars in some early trouble. When BYU's found first-half foul trouble as a team, it has tended to unravel, as Rose pointed out.
UMass received a technical foul on Williams as well, as he stepped in during the relatively mellow episode.
But BYU didn't handle the aftermath as well. UMass hit a couple of free throws off the situation (because it had the advantage on technical fouls on the play) and Williiams added a 3-pointer on the next UMass possession for a 29-21 lead.
UMass led, 52-41, at halftime with a late 8-0 run.
Haws scored the final points with 30 seconds before halftime and the Cougars added the first eight points out of the break.
But it quickly turned into a game where BYU miscues turned into fast-paced points for the Minutemen.
UMass had six players in double figures scoring, with Williams complemented by Samson Carter, who had 20 despite picking up his fourth foul when about 12 minutes remained.
Matt Carlino had 23 for BYU and Eric Mika added 18, as he shined early while UMass Center Cady Lalanne — his team's best scorer for the season — never found a rhythm after picking up a couple of fouls before the first media timeout (five points).
BYU jumped to an early 8-3 lead behind six points from the freshman Mika.
But UMass responded with an 11-0 run that included a couple of 3-pointers. UMass never trailed again.
Rose continues a disappointing trend among his nine years in charge: BYU is 8-22 at BYU against top-25 teams.
"I thought it was a game that was set up nice for us," Rose said. "If we could have figured out a way to guard their little guy...(Williams is) a good player. He's fast and quick, and he was shooting the ball well."
∫Of note: Boston-area residents, and former Cougars, Danny and Austin Ainge (father-son) watched the game behind BYU's bench. So did Cory Calvert, who played at BYU last year as a freshman and is now serving an LDS mission in Boston. ...BYU had an 11-4 advantage on offensive rebounds, and produced five more shots for the game. But it shot just 48.5 percent, about seven points below UMass. ...UMass will return to the Marriott Center next season with a date still to be determined.