In case you missed it, here's my report from BYU's bubble-bursting 89-82 loss at Pacific on Thursday night. Yup, the Cougars (9-5 WCC, 17-10) are going to be dropped from every NCAA Tournament bracket out there after this loss, and deservedly so. Simply, NCAA Tourney-worthy teams win these sort of games; NIT-type teams don't. Pacific had won just four other league games before Thursday's win in front of 4,058 fans at Spanos Center, the dumpiest arena in the league. The place opened in 1981; It seems like it is 50-years-old, not 33. The second-largest arena in the WCC (cap: 6,150) is easily the grimiest and most poorly lit. Locker room facilities were abysmal. The Marriott Center is 10 years older, but 10 times cleaner.
A lot has been made in Provo of the small gymnasiums and arenas around the WCC, but they are all generally clean, bright, attractive venues. Not so at Pacific.
But I digress. Coach Dave Rose's BYU team was outclassed on the floor by a team that shot 51.8 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the 3-point line. The Tigers (5-8, 14-10) were 7 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half and 62.5 percent from the field in the second half. As Rose said, Pacific was the better team on Thursday night. Simply, BYU is a different team on the road than it is in the Marriott Center. The Cougars waxed UP 88-78 in Provo two weeks ago, leading by as many as 23 points in the second half. The biggest difference between the road Cougars and the home Cougars is their 3-point percentage defense. The Cougars' 3-point percentage defense on the road in the WCC is 49 percent (69 of 142). At home, it is a respectable 31 percent (41 of 131). "We just got to find a way to win on the road," said BYU's Tyler Haws, who fouled out against Pacific for the first time in his college career. "This taste in our mouths is awful. I still have a lot of confidence in everyone in that locker room. Everyone still believes, and there is no time to hang our heads." See below for more comments by the Cougars about their home-road difference. The Cougars jumped ahead 9-0, but then became plagued by foul problems. Pacific roared back to take a 14-11 lead, and it was a dogfight from there. That's another BYU bugaboo on the road; Its big guys such as Eric Mika and Nate Austin can't stay out of foul trouble away from the Marriott Center. Mika averages 2.4 fouls at home, 4.0 on the road in WCC games. Junior forward Nate Austin averages 2.6 fouls per game at home and 4.4 whistles on the road. "I think that .. the way that Pacific plays, it is a pretty physical game," Rose said when I asked him about the foul trouble that plagued BYU Thursday night. "I thought we were up to the task. I thought our effort was really good. I think playing through contact is an issue for us, at times. I think the guys need to be more aggressive. Like we've said before, we need to be more aggressive, but cut down on fouls. We will try to figure that out somehow." That propensity for foul trouble does not bode well for the Cougars on Saturday night at Saint Mary's, which has the best low-post scorer in the league, Brad Waldow. Waldow got 18 free throws, making 11, in the 84-71 loss at BYU on Feb. 1 and scored 25 points in just 32 minutes. There might be a Graham Pingree sighting at McKeon Pavilion if Mika, Austin, Josh Sharp and Luke Worthington can't stay out of foul trouble. The Cougars made their first seven free throws against the Tigers, then missed some critical ones late in the first half when they probably should have gone into the locker room with something bigger than a 38-35 lead. The finished a respectable 23 of 33 from the line (69.7 percent) after going 13 of 16 in the second half. The Cougars are shooting 71 percent from the stripe at home in WCC games, 69 percent on the road; Opponents are shooting 73 percent from the line at home in WCC games against the Cougars. Pacific, the best free-throw shooting team in the league, was 21 of 32 (65.6 percent) Thursday night, missing some in the final minute when the outcome was not in doubt. Tyler Haws went 8 for 8 and Skyler Halford went 7 for 8 from the line on Thursday. Without Haws' 87.5 FT shooting and Halford's 83.9 FT shooting, the rest of the team shoots 60.6 percent from the charity stripe. Here are more comments from Thursday's game Rose on what the most glaring problem was Thursday night: "Well, they shot the ball really well from the 3-point line in the second half. Some of them were pretty deep, contested shots. Others they got free and got a pretty good look at it. But that's a big number, double figures."Rose on Pacific's confidence and them gaining it with big shots:"They played really well. They shared the ball well, they spaced the floor well, they ran their half court sets. You know, we jumped in and out of zone, to man, and tried to confuse them a little bit. But they were pretty good. They were really patient, and whenever it was time to pull the trigger, they had guys step up and do it." Rose on why his team plays differently at home than on the road: "I think what we have run into with a couple of teams is that they have played really well. That's what teams do, they play really well at home. They play a little bit better."Rose on Matt Carlino's game, 28 points:"Matt gave us a really good lift offensively. In the first half defensively he was really good. He did a great job of keeping that guy out of the lane. He obviously kept us in the game, especially in that first half when we were in foul trouble."Rose on how he handles losses and quick turnarounds and whether he harps on this game or moves on:"I think our guys are used to that. We have been through this. We know what is coming, and hopefully our guys will be ready. Basically, the last three or four minutes of our conversation in there [the locker room] was to move on. That's what we got to do, is move on." Rose on whether guys are on the same page defensively, or a step back:"They burned us on a couple pick and rolls, then they got some real good penetration in there, and got some second shots, offensive rebounds, all things that you got to fend off. We weren't able to do it. They were just the better team tonight."Matt Carlino on what happened to the offense besides him.'I feel like myself, I had some key turnovers that really cost us. I don't know. It felt kinda like the Wichita State game. They just hit big shots down the stretch. We were up, and then, I dunno, you know? We just got to finish out the game. I dunno. It is something we need to fix, because we are going to be playing only road games here soon. So I don't know, but I do know we have to fix it."Carlino on UP hitting threes:"Some of them were tough, and some of them were open. I mean, we know those guys can hit shots, so we can't allow that to happen. Those were the guys on the scout [report] that hit shots. So that's on us."Carlino on what the huddles are like with this team and the lack of defensive focus:"Sometimes we are on the same page, but other times we are not. I think it is just a consistency thing. … I think we just got to move on to the next one. We can't let this turn into two again. I mean, we have to go into Saint Mary's now. So we have to put this one behind us and get better from it."Carlino on why they play differently on the road:"I don't know. I couldn't tell you. We are just different. I don't know. We just are. I can't explain it. I mean, I don't feel differently. I don't really ask the other guys if they feel different. I don't know. We can't get it done right now, so we need to change it."Carlino on turning around quickly and playing Saint Mary's:"It is going to be another tough one. Like I said, we can't let one [loss] turn into two. So they play so hard, and we just got to match their intensity."Tyler Haws on the difference in the second half:"We just didn't stop what they like to do. They hit big shot after big shot, and we didn't make them do anything different."Haws on why Pacific made big shots, bad perimeter defense or not stopping penetration:"I think it was a little bit of everything. I think we had a few breakdowns, didn't rotate a few times, and we just let a few guys get hot. It stinks because we knew their stuff, and we knew what they were capable of coming in."Haws on UP gaining confidence as they stayed in it:"I don't know what it was. They just made big play after big play, and had a really good second half."Haws on fouling out for the first time:'No, I didn't know that. I made some stupid plays. I got to be smarter."Haws on whether he had good looks tonight and weren't falling:"Yeah, the shots didn't go in. But no time to think about it. We got a big game Saturday. So we gotta move on."Haws on going on to SMC and getting quick turnaround:"I mean, if it motivates us to play harder, and play with a chip on our shoulder, I mean that is what you have to have against a team like Saint Mary's, and especially on their court."Haws on Saint Mary's retiring Matthew Dellavedova's number on Saturday night:"Yeah, I heard that. That's quick. They do it quick."