It only took 10 good minutes for Brigham Young to post a road victory in its last game. The Cougars now will try to avoid looking ahead to a showdown with a top 10 team as they host intrastate rival Weber State on Wednesday.
Dave Rose’s squad had a sluggish start before pulling away for a 78-54 victory at Portland on Saturday. Lee Cummard scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures and Ben Murdock had a career-high 10 assists for No. 20 BYU (6-1), which put the game away with a 30-6 burst spanning the first and second halves.
“In the first half, I think our problem was being a little too selfish (on offense),” said Murdock, whose assist-to-turnover ratio is 4.1-to-1. “That’s one of our strengths our ball movement and playing as a team. … I’d say we played really good for about 20 minutes. But I think we’ll get better as the year goes, especially on the road.”
BYU carries a 34-game home winning streak into this game, second in the nation only to No. 2 Memphis’ 36-game run.
Rose was pleased with the performance of reserve Jimmer Fredette, who had 11 points in Saturday’s victory and made 5 of 7 shots.
“Jimmer Fredette really gave us a lift in the second half,” Rose said. “He’s getting a lot better defensively. He needs to come in and give us a lift like he did tonight. He’ll be a key player in our team’s success this year.”
After this game, the Cougars will play No. 9 Michigan State at the EnergySolutionsCenter in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The Spartans will be the third top 10 opponent for BYU this season, but first in Utah in the regular season since a 71-61 defeat to then-No. 3 Utah on Jan. 10, 1998.
The Cougars have won three of their last five games against ranked teams, including a 78-76 victory over then-No. 6 Louisville in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 23.
Forward Trent Plaisted is averaging a team-best 18.1 points while shooting 59.0 percent from the field, while Jonathan Tavernari is making 42.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and contributing 16.0 points per game.
Weber State (2-4) has split its first two games against intrastate rivals, opening its season with a 78-71 victory over Utah State and losing 72-52 to Utah on Nov. 28. The Wildcats are trying to regroup from a 78-61 loss at Illinois on Saturday in which they committed 21 turnovers.
Juan Pablo Silvera was the only player in double figures with 10 points, though four others had at least eight. Weber State has failed to score more than 66 points in any game since its season-opening victory and is averaging just 62.8.
Senior forward Arturas Valeika is averaging 12.7 points and 10.0 rebounds and is the only player scoring in double figures.
The Wildcats, who lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to UCLA last season, have not beaten a Top 25 team since a 79-77 victory at then-No. 22 Utah on Dec. 9, 2000.
BYU has won the last four games between these teams, is 16-0 at home versus Weber State and leads the all-time series 22-10. Cummard had 12 points as the Cougars outlasted the Wildcats 73-69 in overtime last season at Weber State.