mika

BYU’s supporting cast comes up big in win over Utah State

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BYU has one of the nation’s best perimeter scoring tandems in Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino, with both capable of putting together highly productive nights on a consistent basis. They score in different ways, with Carlino being the more aggressive of the two when it comes to hunting for his shots and that can get him into trouble at times. But it works for the Cougars, who are off to a 6-2 start and are expected by many to be Gonzaga’s biggest threat in the WCC.

Against Utah State on Saturday night the Cougars needed more than those two to beat the Aggies, and three players stepped up to the plate in BYU’s 85-74 win at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Eric Mika, who just over a week ago suffered an eye abrasion in a loss to Iowa State, tallied 15 points and nine rebounds as he more than held his own with Utah State’s Jarred Shaw (12 points, 13 rebounds). Mika’s helped BYU account for the graduation of Brandon Davies, and while the freshman isn’t required to score at the same rate as Davies  his 13.1 points per game has given the Cougars a credible interior threat on the offensive end of the floor.

The other two players who stepped up against Utah State were guards Frank Bartley IV and Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth (seven points, 13 rebounds and eight assists) had his fingerprints all over this game, and his ability as a primary ball-handler and distributor allows Carlino to aggressively look for his shots. That was a role head coach Dave Rose envisioned for Collinsworth prior to the start of the season, and the guard has performed well through seven games.

As for Bartley he’s proven to be a valuable reserve for the Cougars along with wing Anson Winder, and he accounted for 14 points and five rebounds against Utah State. It was Bartley who sparked the BYU rally that allowed the Cougars to take control of the game in the second half, as he scored ten of his 14 points during a 29-11 stretch that gave BYU a 12-point lead with 3:39 remaining.

Mika, Collinsworth and Bartley won’t be primary scorers for BYU and that’s fine due to the presence of Carlino and Haws. But in order for the Cougars to be at their best that supplementary trio will need to be productive, especially in games like Saturday’s. And on Saturday night, they showed that they’re more than capable of helping to carry the load.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: