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BYU basketball analysis: A look at why the Cougars fell apart against the Waves

An already difficult season got much worse on Thursday night as the Cougars fell to the Pepperdine Waves 80-74 in Malibu, California. After an impressive start that saw BYU take a 38-25 lead into halftime, the Cougars gave up 55 points in the second stanza to the normally low-scoring Waves.

Stacy Davies led the way for the Waves with 22 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor and 12-for-16 shooting from the free-throw line. He added seven rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steals. Pepperdine also got big performances out of Lamont Murray Jr. and Jett Raines. Murray finished with 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting and seven rebounds while Raines added 14 points while missing one shot the entire night. Amadi Udenyi added eight points and nine assists as the Waves improved to 15-8 on the season.

Tyler Haws paced the Cougars with 22 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the floor and 7-for-9 from the free-throw line. Anson Winder chipped in with 20 points on the strength of an 11-for-13 shooting night from the free-throw line while Kyle Collinsworth added 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the floor along with 10 rebounds. Skyler Halford also had a solid night with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor, including 2-for-3 from distance and a team-high three assists coming off the bench.

Why the Cougars lost

The Cougars struggled to get anything done defensively after halftime, and it showed as they gave up 30 more points in the second half than they did in the first. Davis, Murray and Raines did most of the damage for the Waves in the second stanza with 45 of the 55 points.

BYU put Pepperdine on the line far too often and the Waves took advantage as they made 25-of-31 attempts (80.6 percent).

The turning point

With the Cougars up 16 in the closing seconds of the first half and nothing falling for the Waves, Shawn Olden caught a pass on the right wing and buried a deep 3-pointer. While it didn't seem like much at the time, it gave Pepperdine some momentum heading into the looker room, and they carried that to a huge second-half performance.

What it means

With the loss, the Cougars now sit in fourth place of what is most likely a one-bid league for the NCAA tournament. BYU does have some chances left on the schedule to improve its tournament resume with games against Saint Mary's and at Gonzaga, but this one really hurts.

The Cougars will need to provide a strong performance on Saturday if they want to try to get back on track.

It also showed us that BYU really needs that extra weapon from the outside to win close games. Without Chase Fischer, the Cougars shot just 4-for-17 from beyond the arc.

Grading the performance

BYU

After a first half where they did just about everything right on the defensive side of the ball, the Cougars all but disappeared in the second. They gave up layups and short jumpers or put the Waves on the free-throw line.

As the defense fell apart, the offense did too. The Cougars stopped moving the basketball as they resorted to trying to go one-on-one (sometimes two and three) to create scoring chances.

The BYU big men struggled against Raines and Davis on both ends of the floor. Kaufusi, Andrus and Neilson combined for six points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots while committing nine fouls.

D

Pepperdine

The Waves attacked the rim, moved the ball and capitalized when they got to the line. The coaching staff made the right adjustments at halftime and it carried them to a huge home win.

The dribble penetration against the zone was key as it allowed Pepperdine to get touches deep in the paint and at the rim.

B

Three telling stats

Although it has been mentioned extensively, the Waves scored 55 points in the second half. That's a shocking amount when you consider that they scored 67, 50, 57 and 59 in their last four games.

BYU had 12 assists on 25 made baskets. When the Cougars fail to reach the magic number of 15 assists, they are just 3-8 on the season.

Haws shot 7-for-16 from the floor (43.8 percent), marking the seventh time in eight losses that he shot less than 50 percent from the floor.

Up next

The Cougars look to get back to their winning ways as they travel to Loyola Marymount. The Lions are 8-16 (4-8 in the WCC), but are on a two-game winning streak after victories over Pacific and San Diego.

Evan Payne carries the load for the Lions with 17.9 points per game. He has plenty of help on the inside from Marin Mornar and Godwin Okonji. Mornar is averaging 10.4 points on 54.5 percent shooting from the floor as well as 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while Okonji contributes 6.5 points and six rebounds. The other player to look out for is Ayodeji Egbeyemi who is averaging 10.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports