The trademark of Air Force basketball is ball movement, but in BYU's 90-52 blowout win Wednesday over the Falcons, the Cougars were the ones putting on a passing clinic.
The Cougars coasted with several big scoring runs, which were a direct result of high-percentage shots. The high-percentage shots were there because the Cougars' offensive stat sheet reads exactly like the coaches draw it up — scoring baskets on an assist.
BYU assisted on 24 of its 33 baskets, and as a result the Cougars shot a blistering 58 percent from the floor, 50 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line. BYU’s 90 points came against a team that entered the game allowing only 60 points per contest.
Defensively, the Cougars held Air Force to 34-percent shooting, 38 percent from 3-point range and the Falcons made only 4-of-8 free throws. The Falcons also turned the ball over 16 times. The Cougars also had nine steals and seven blocked shots.
The Cougars also owned a 38-25 advantage on the boards.
BYU's efficiency was especially sharp in the first half when the Cougars went on a 16-0 run to open up a 19-point lead. At the end of the run, with BYU leading 31-12, the Cougars were blistering the nets at 55 percent and hitting 50 percent from 3-point range, despite Jackson Emery missing 5 of 6 from deep during the opening half. The Cougars’ 12 baskets at that point came from 10 assists with only two turnovers.
Defensively, at that point, the Cougars had four steals and three blocks. The Falcons were shooting only 31 percent at that stage of the game with six turnovers and they didn’t have a single offensive rebound.
When Air Force responded with an 11-0 run to keep the Cougars from running away, the Falcons made 3 of 5 from 3-point range in the stretch. BYU had four quick turnovers and missed three straight shots from behind the arc.
With the Cougars suiting up only nine players, fouls became an issue with Emery and fellow starter Noah Hartsock sitting out the final five minutes of the half with two fouls each. Fortunately for the Cougars, Stephen Rogers came off the bench to hit 3-of-4 3-pointers in the first half.
Despite leading by 11 at the break, the Cougars, who hit only one bucket in the final eight minutes of the first half, had only four post points and shot only two first-half free throws. They average more than 24 free throws per game. On the other side, however, Air Force didn't get to the foul line in the first half.
The Cougars broke the game open with a fast start in the second half. They quickly widened their lead to 23 points by hitting 7-of-9 shots to open the final half. During the same time period the Falcons were 2 of 6 with four turnovers.
In looking at reasons why the Cougars continually widened the margin, Emery and Brandon Davies had the answer. After going only 1 of 6 in the first half, Emery was 5 of 6 in the second half and 4 of 5 from 3-point range. He finished with 17 points. Davies scored 11 second-half points and was a 5 of 5 from the floor.
Once again Fredette led all scorers with 25 points and added four assists and two steals, but the BYU star turned the ball over six times. The Cougars got a solid 21 points from a thin bench, led by 11 from Rogers.