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BYU basketball: Tavernari plays well in front of parents

PROVO — Jonathan Tavernari's parents traveled a long way — some 6,000 miles — to attend Saturday's BYU-Air Force game.

And the Cougar forward didn't let his mom and dad down, delivering a sensational shooting performance from long distance.

Tavernari came off the bench to knock down five 3-pointers and pour in a game-high — and season-high — 19 points, in 24 minutes of action, as BYU routed Air Force, 91-48, at the Marriott Center.

Roberto and Thelma Tavernari journeyed from their native Brazil to watch their son, a senior, play one of his final home games as a Cougar. "They got here Thursday," Tavernari said. "It's been a fun time hanging out with them."

Tavernari added that the past few days together have given his parents and his wife, Kiri, whom he married over the summer, an opportunity get better acquainted.

When asked if his red-hot shooting had anything to do with mom and dad being at the game, Tavernari said no.

"I made five 3-pointers because we played as a team," said Tavernari, adding that he and his teammates were adept Saturday at doing what coach Dave Rose always tells them — to give up a good shot for a better one.

All five of Tavernari's 3-pointers came in the first half. During one stretch, he scored 12 consecutive points, on four treys, as BYU's lead ballooned from 15-7 to 27-12. Following a Noah Hartsock basket, Tarvernari struck again from 3-point territory to propel the Cougars to a 32-12 advantage.

At halftime, Tavernari had scored 17 points, including 6-for-7 from the field and 5-for-5 from 3-point range, as BYU led, 53-20. He finished the game with five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Tavernari missed both of his 3-point attempts in the second half. Not that it mattered, because the game was far out of reach for the Falcons.

In fact, the contest was so out of hand — BYU led by as many as 46 points — that Tavernari turned around from his seat on the bench in the second half to ask reporters on press row the score of the UNLV-San Diego State game.

This season, Tavernari's role has shifted from starter to reserve. He started as a sophomore and a junior, as well as the first six games of his senior campaign. But after struggling with his shot to open the year, Tavernari convinced the coaching staff to let him come off the bench rather than start.

Tavernari has adapted well to his sixth-man role, and of late, he has regained his shooting touch. He scored 17 points in a loss to New Mexico, and had 16 in last week's setback at UNLV, before his impressive outing against Air Force.

"JT has been terrific the last month, especially in practices, where he's shooting the ball with a lot of confidence," said Rose. "He played really well last week, I thought. When we get him playing with that look in his eye where he releases that thing and knows it's going in, that will be a real bonus for this group."

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com