BYU basketball: Cougars' quest for third NIT title falls two games short
BYU notes • Cougars won the tournament in both 1951, 1966.
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New York • It was with a sense of history that BYU players took the floor on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in their National Invitation Tournament semifinal game against Baylor

The Cougars were trying to become the first BYU team since 1966 to win an NIT title.

Even BYU's mascot, Cosmo, got into the spirit of the thing, wearing a Mel Hutchins jersey (No. 14) the way Hutchins did when he led the Cougars to the 1951 NIT crown.

"The NIT championships in '51 and '66 are always on the minds of our fans," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "And the history has actually gone through with our team this year, as far as our players understanding the importance of this event."

If the Cougars had won, they would have had a chance to tie Dayton for third-most NIT titles. Saint John's leads with five championships, while Bradley has four.

Low on helpers

The Cougars assisted on 24 of their 29 field goals in last week's 79-62 win over Southern Miss, but had just nine assists on 25 field goals against Baylor, including just four in the first half.

"I thought that the turnovers in the first half [seven] hurt us, and that was something we really wanted to correct in the second half and we did a much better job of playing turnover-free in the second half," Rose said.

Quick recovery for Carlino

BYU's Matt Carlino left the game briefly in the first half with some leg cramps, but returned and finished with 35 minutes of playing time. Tyler Haws and Nate Austin played 39 minutes each.

Carlino "kind of had a cramp and got that loosened up, and it didn't bother him after the first few minutes of the game," Rose said.

Briefly

Sophomore forward Josh Sharp (strained Achilles) dressed and participated in warm-ups, but did not play. … The game was stopped in the second half because Haws had blood on his knee. Seconds after it was re-started, Haws broke free for a fast-break dunk.

drew@sltrib.com