BYU Hoops

BYU Hoops: Halford's offense strong, but Rose praises team "D" in ending 4-game losing streak

2014-01-05T00:30:00Z 2014-01-14T08:24:29Z BYU Hoops: Halford's offense strong, but Rose praises team "D" in ending 4-game losing streakJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
January 05, 2014 12:30 am  • 

The four days of practice during the week gave BYU basketball coaches a chance to measure investment.

Who was there, and who needed to pick it up a few notches.

Consider the collective attitude adjusted, if a well-rounded 87-53 win against San Diego at the Marriott Center is Exhibit A.

"We saw a side of this team we hadn't seen, which was really encouraging to us," BYU coach Dave Rose said Saturday night after praising various aspects of the Cougars that had lost four consecutive games before reversing the script — getting ahead early, staying motivated and consistent.

But more than that, even more than passing the ball and making shots, the Cougars ripped through an opponent when it was on defense.

San Diego's star guard shooters (Johnny Dee, Chris Anderson) hit just 4-of-21 shots. BYU had 18 more rebounds.

Rose clapped more than he has in recent weeks on nicely executed baskets, even throwing a leg in the air when Tyler Haws was sealing up a chance at a 3-point play.

That BYU led by 18 points at half, after basically getting run out of venues for much of the last month away from Provo, was a nice sign.

But again, Rose pointed toward the tenacity when it didn't have the ball.

"Defensively, it was our best effort of the year," Rose said. "Hopefully we can build on this. It was a well-executed game plan from start to finish. We shared the ball on offense. We got open shots, made open shots. But defensively, we made them take tough shots. That's a big key for us....we need to bottle that."

It was indeed good to be home again, the first time since Dec. 11, in fact, which happened to also be the last time the 9-7 outfit won. It was also BYU's first win in three West Coast Conference games.

Rose made another significant switch to the lineup, giving Skyler Halford the starter's role at shooting guard and moving Matt Carlino into an off-the-bench spark.

Kyle Collinsworth had 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as his point-guard duties expand.

Haws had 17 points and Eric Mika contributed 13 on an injury-plagued night. Carlino had six points on six shots in 21 minutes, some late as Rose gave him time to try and find a better groove.

Rose pushed another right button, which he's been known to do astutely in his nine years — never even losing three in a row at BYU before this historical stretch.

Halford had a career high posted by halftime (15 points) in his first start and kept going even after intermission, when BYU led, 41-23. He finished with 28.

Even in losses last Saturday and Monday, Halford's game had been on an upswing.

"It was fun," Halford said. "I was just trying to do my best when I'm in there and help the team win."

That hasn't been easy lately. Finding leads of any kind has been been tough.

It was a 58-percent shooting team that has some work to do to win over its fan base. Large chunks of the arena were left empty, even the student section that typically hasn't been so absent even during holiday breaks.

Perhaps this will win them back.

BYU seemed to win itself over with some of the most potent, selfless (read: passing) the Cougars had seen in weeks.

There were 14 assists on 17-first half baskets, and the teamwork extended the final 20 minutes. Overall, 25 assists (more than the last two games combined) on 31 baskets.

Rose said he didn't believe the offense was entirely broken. Halford was the caulk that brought the game plan together.

The junior-college transfer was an epiphany at both ends of the floor. He saw extended minutes Monday at Pepperdine, as BYU investigated different guard-line options.

Rose opted to also let him guard Dee — a terrific catch-and-shoot talent.

Rose praised Halford's energy level, quickness and size advantage on Dee. Halford in turn praised teammates for being in good positions to offer help.

That was a new trend, too, after a few weeks of quiet and ineffective defense.

At one first-half point, on defense, Carlino said "Talk to me Sky" when two Toreros brought them close on a screen play.

A sound for a coach's sore ears, right?

Halford was all over the place. He sent up quality 3-pointers (4-of-8) and floaters, he hounded Dee into a 2-of-10 night. A critical play came early when Dee tried to assert his position for a jumpshot, knocking over Halford. It was Dee's second foul midway into the first half, and knocked out USD (9-7, 0-3).

The Toreros played the rest of the night like they were stuck playing a team that was bound to break out of a losing skid, which featured beatdowns from Utah and West Coast Conference mates Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount plus a heartbreaker overtime loss at Oregon on Dec. 21.

USD hadn't allowed more than 75 points all season.

BYU did most of its damage without Mika, who went to the locker room for treatment of a hip contusion for most of the second half. He had a couple hard falls, which was nothing new. The scarier part was when his legs failed him early in the second half, and he didn't elevate for a breakaway dunk.

But he was there at the official end of the losing streak, smiling with teammates.

Rose was otherwise tight-lipped about the leg issues Mika is facing, one potentially tough side note.

Mika only saw 17 minutes and his team thrived without him at both ends of the floor.

Like a win, that hadn't been seen lately, either.

NOTES

One of the three refs was Glen Mayberry. He worked the BYU game at Oregon a few weeks ago, and called a late, controversial blocking foul against freshman Frank Bartley IV. ...Halftime entertainment included the young hoops team coached by former BYU great Travis Hansen. ...BYU's shooting mojo carried over to the crowd. A student made a half-court shot to win an IPad in the second half.

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