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Provo • Just before halftime on Thursday night at the Marriott Center against Pepperdine, Brandon Davies soared high, grabbed Josh Sharp's missed jumper, and jammed the ball through the basket to cut the Waves' lead to five.
The spectacular play not only ended perhaps the most dismal first half of the season for the Cougars, but it also gave BYU some much-needed momentum heading into the locker room. And it showed an antsy crowd of 14,888 that Davies was pretty much his old self again, after battling a sprained ankle the last few games.
The Cougars played much better offensively and defensively in the second half, while short-handed Pepperdine wilted when the heat was turned up, and BYU cruised to a 76-51 win to improve to 3-0 in West Coast Conference play, 13-4 overall.
Pepperdine, playing without suspended point guard Caleb Willis, and with a couple of other guys who were ill just hours before the game, fell to 1-2 in league play, 9-7 overall.
"We came out flat at the beginning, but the second half was a different story," said BYU guard Matt Carlino.
Boy, was it ever.
After scoring 20 points in the first half on 7-for-10 shooting, Pepperdine guard Jordan Baker did not score in the second half. After shooting 28.1 percent in the first half, the Cougars shot 58.1 percent in the second half.
And that was pretty much all it took.
"They had trouble guarding Jordan Baker in the first half, him getting 20 points, and just creating plays," said Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson, the former University of Utah assistant. "They made a great adjustment in the second half. They doubled him anytime he got it, and dared our other guys to have to make the play."
They couldn't do it, not with leading scorer Lorne Jackson ailing and playing out of position, and with talented newcomer Stacy Davis netting just four points.
"Baker just played probably 20 minutes of his best offensive basketball this year," Rose said of the sophomore from Tempe, Ariz.
Baker was able to flourish in the first half when Carlino was on the bench with two fouls. In the second half, Carlino and Davies doubled him and made him give up the ball, and Carlino triggered a 20-1 run with several big steals that led to easy baskets.
"Matt was terrific in the second half defensively, deflecting balls and getting a steal here or there, and allowing us to get a few points in transition, which got the crowd going," Rose said. "And I was really pleased with Nate [Austin] and Craig [Cusick] coming off the bench and giving us a good lift."
Meanwhile, Tyler Haws was his reliable self, leading all scorers with 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting; Davies chipped in 19 points and nine rebounds, and Carlino had 13 points, four assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.
"Coach showed us at the end of the game that we only gave up 16 points in the second half," Carlino said. "I think the difference [in halves] was our focus defensively."
It helped that the Waves cooled off considerably, matching BYU's ugly shooting in the first half with a 6-for-22 effort in the second half.
In the second half, "I thought we contested passes, we contested shots, we contested dribbles, rebounded the ball a lot better," Rose said. "After the first three or four minutes of the second half, after we couldn't get a ball to go in, we figured out a way to score and kind of broke through, and we were able to win the game."
Storylines BYU dominates 2nd half
R BYU falls behind in the first half for the second straight game, but rallies in the final 20 minutes to bury Pepperdine at the Marriott Center, led by 24 points from Tyler Haws, pictured.