PROVO — Everything went BYU’s way in its 84-50 throttling of Santa Clara Saturday night.
The Cougars raced to a double-digit first-half lead by missing only five shots (19 of 24) from the field. In the end, BYU shot 61 percent and had four players score in double figures while holding the Broncos to 34 percent shooting at the Leavey Center.
It marked the Cougars' best overall performance of the season, both offensively and defensively.
What effect will that game have on BYU moving forward?
“It can be good or bad, you know? You start winning games like this and your mentality can slip,” said guard TJ Haws, who scored 14 points and hit 4 of 5 3-pointers against Santa Clara. “Thursday, we’re going to have to come out with the exact same mentality. Hopefully we’ve learned that (after) the Pacific game. When you start winning games and you win big like this, you can’t ease up. So hopefully, it’s good for us and hopefully we can keep that mentality.”
The Cougars host Loyola Marymount Thursday (9 p.m. MST, ESPNU).
Forward Yoeli Childs said Saturday's effort serves as a reminder about what can happen when BYU plays a complete game.
“It’s a thing that we can look back at in our future games and say, ‘How did we lock in in that Santa Clara game?’ It’s something that we can reference when it comes to locking in for a whole 40 minutes,” said Childs, who scored 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had a career-high eight rebounds against Santa Clara — all on his 20th birthday.
BYU (15-4, 4-2) recorded a season-high 26 assists Saturday and shot an unconscious 79 percent from the floor in the first half. The last time the Cougars shot 70 percent or better in a half was Feb. 20, 2016, against San Diego in Provo. BYU drilled 20 of 28 (71.4 percent) shots in the second half that night.
Defensively, the Cougars clamped down on Santa Clara, holding the Broncos without a field goal (0 of 16 from the field) for about 12 minutes in the second half.
“I thought we were really good offensively the whole game,” said coach Dave Rose. “The challenge was to be more like ourselves defensively. Last week, we kind of just went through the motions. We really executed a lot better in our defensive concepts. … The first four games (of conference play), we had a hard time getting 70 points. We’ve scored 80 in the last two. That will help us as long as we keep playing defense.”
Childs scored 21 points, collected 12 rebounds and had six assists in last Thursday’s 83-63 victory over Pepperdine. He followed that up Saturday by falling just two assists short of a triple-double.
“It’s interesting — he’s had back-to-back nights with his career-high in assists,” Rose said. “That just shows you that he’s getting better and he’s feeling way more comfortable with the ball in his hands. And what other people are doing to him. They're trying to stop him, and he’s effective in the way he passes the ball.”
Added Rose about Childs: “As a rebounder, as a scorer, as a facilitator, he understands the game more. His ability to pass the ball, almost in positions where they’re not there yet. A lot of back doors, and he can see the advantage that the guard has, it really makes it difficult to guard when your post guy can pass that way.”
While Childs was 9 of 16 from the field Saturday, several Cougars also made big contributions. Elijah Bryant was 4 of 7 for 14 points (and he also pulled down 12 rebounds), Haws was 5 of 9 for 14 points, Zac Seljaas was 5 of 8 for 11 points and Luke Worthington was 4 of 4 for eight points.
All in all, it was a performance that BYU is hoping to build on.