Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 | 7 p.m.
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Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer break down UNLV's 88-74 whipping of No. 12 BYU on Saturday afternoon at the Mack to pull even with the Cougars atop the Mountain West Conference standings. The guys give you the key points from the Rebels' 19th win of the season, plus handicap the race for the league's regular season title moving forward.
BYU senior Jonathan Tavernari calls himself “a Vegas guy.”
Ever since Tavernari moved from Sao Bernardo, Brazil, to Las Vegas and starred at Bishop Gorman High, he’s spoken of his love for the city.
This weekend’s visit, however, was far from a joyous one for Tavernari as UNLV routed BYU 88-74 at the Thomas & Mack Center Saturday.
“We didn’t execute the things we usually execute,” Tavernari said. “We weren’t ourselves and that was frustrating.”
Despite scoring 16 points with seven rebounds, there was not much Tavernari could do to help the Cougars.
Tavernari, who has served as BYU’s sixth man all season, checked into the game with 16 minutes remaining in the first half and the Cougars trailing 11-2. BYU would not any closer.
BYU junior guard Jimmer Fredette, who scored 21 points but shot 4-for-15 from the field, remembers looking up at the scoreboard a few minutes later and being shocked at the numbers he saw: UNLV 20, BYU 4.
“We haven’t been through that all year,” Fredette said.
And the Cougars, ranked No. 12 in the country, clearly didn’t know how to handle the major deficit.
Instead of clamping down on the perimeter defensively, BYU continued to allow UNLV get open looks behind the three-point line. The red-hot Rebels made the Cougars pay by finishing 12-for-23 on 3-pointers.
But it was offensive breakdowns that bothered BYU coach Dave Rose.
“Stopping your team from trying to score 10 points in one possession is the hardest thing,” Rose said. “These guys wanted to catch up and they believed they can, but there were just too many possessions when we were in too big of a hurry.”
Tavernari was perhaps the Cougars’ only efficient player offensively. He knocked down seven of his 12 shots from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Tavernari, who finished his college career without ever beating UNLV in Las Vegas, also stole an inbounds pass in the second half for an easy layup.
“That’s the thing about me playing the sixth man,” Tavernari said. “I’ll come in and do whatever you need.”
It wasn’t nearly enough against the Rebels. Still, none of the Cougars appeared too downtrodden after the game.
No one hung their head. The Cougars didn’t assign blame on each other or make excuses. Tavernari said this was because the Cougars realized they are still in control of their own destiny in the Mountain West Conference race.
“Each of us reacts to a loss differently, but we’re still in first place in the conference,” Tavernari said. “We can’t forget that.”
BYU and UNLV are tied at the top of the Mountain West standings at 7-2. But the Cougars appear to have a slight edge in their remaining schedule.
They have no more road games against the top-tier teams in the conference — UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State — while the Rebels travel to San Diego State next Saturday and play New Mexico at home Wednesday.
“This is a long process,” Rose said. “We’re right in the middle of it and we’re in good shape. We’ve got to recover from this and move forward.”