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It was the game following test week and BYU coach Roger Reid was wondering during the first half if his team had spent too many all-nighters studying.

Facing a 0-5 Northeast Louisiana team in the Marriott Center, the Cougars fell behind by six points quickly."I thought we were still taking finals in the first half," Reid said. "I'm not a guy to make excuses, but that's what it looked like. Guys were trying to move and it looked like they had hip boots on."

But in the second half the Cougars took off the boots, began to run and play hard-nosed defense. The result was a 87-69 victory. BYU improved to 7-2 on the year with the victory, while NLU dropped to 0-6 - with all of the losses by 12 or more points.

"We knew we needed to pick it up (in the second half) and the best place to do that is on the defensive end," Cougar center Kenneth Roberts said.

Despite trailing much of the first half the Cougars came back to take a 35-31 lead at intermission. BYU led 47-40 with 15:30 to play in the game when forward Russell Larson and guard Randy Reid led the Cougars on the decisive 16-0 run over the next three minutes. Larson scored nine points while Reid netted five, made two steals and played outstanding denial defense against NLU's top player Larry Carr during the Cougar run.

"I thought the difference in the game was Randy (Reid)," said his coach and father. "The difference was (Randy's) defense. He turned it up on Larry Carr - I think he got one basket in the second half when he was on him. Those are things that I see that may not show up in the newspaper."

NLU made went on a 13-3 run of their own to pull to within 13, 73-60, with 5:17 to play, but could get no closer.

"Especially early we played as hard as we're capable of playing," NLU coach Mike Vining said. "BYU's size hurt us. We had trouble getting the ball inside and we couldn't do anything with it when we did."

For the fourth game in a row - all in the Marriott Center - Larson scored better than 20 points, netting a season-best 25. He also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

"Larson had one of his best games overall," Roger Reid said. "He goes out there and is steady and consistent all the time on offense, but he worked harder tonight on the defensive end."

Randy Reid and reserve forward Mark Durrant also had their best scoring nights of the season, netting 18 and 12 points respectively.

Despite not touching the ball much in the first 10 minutes of the second half, Carr, the Indian's hot-shooting 6-4 forward finished with 25 points - even with a mask on to protect a broken nose. His 15 first-half points were what kept NLU close. He finished the game 5-of-10 from 3-point range, including a couple of 25-foot bombs.

"(Carr) lit it up today," Roberts said. "He's a great shooter."

BYU will next be in action Wednesday night when it faces Weber State in Ogden.

GAME NOTES: Jazz director of player personnel, Scott Layden, was in the crowd where he was able to get a chance to see seniors Carr and Larson score 25 points each . . . The announced crowd was 18,264, but again there were thousands of paid for tickets that went unused. The crowd was more in the 11,000 range . . . NLU, which has won five consecutive Southland Conference titles and been to four NCAA Tournaments in the past five years, has had a brutal schedule so far. The Indians have yet to play a home game and have faced the likes of Nebraska, Oklahoma and Mississippi State.