To be completely fair and honest, I just want to point out that I very rarely complain about how the referees do in college basketball games. Despite what many may believe, I think they do an excellent job considering how tough their job is, and are usually extremely fair...usually I guess.
Of course for the game tonight was officials from the Mountain West conference, and it showed when they seemed to only talk to the BYU coaches, and pretty much be in their huddle during timeouts. The refs also did an excellent job of giving the Cougars calls when their lead started to get away, putting them in prime position to hold onto their edge and not let the Bulls take the lead. From my angle the charge that was called to Byron Mulkey seemed to be a legitimate call, but some of the other ones just made me shake my head. But regardless of the refs, if the game was called fairly I think the Bulls would have come up just short to a team with a one man show.
Jimmer Fredette didn't let his first half struggles carry throughout the rest of the game, as he dominated the second half in Alumni Arena. A crowd rocking dunk by Mitchell Watt to tie the ball game right out of the halftime break was soon meaningless when Fredette single handily scored the next 5 points, and many on throughout the game. I give Mulkey props for trying to keep track of Jimmer throughout the game, but as good a defensive player as he is, he just doesn't have the stuff to check Jimmer. Sadly for the Bulls every single play for the Cougars ran through Fredette, either on an isolation of a pick and roll, and the Bulls just couldn't have an answer. Great team defense cant do you too much when thats the only thing being run for one player, but with a phenom like that I guess you can do it.
But enough about the All-American, I feel the Bulls deserve a ton of credit for how they played (despite the million turnovers). Offensively the Bulls were able to get a ton of points inside with Watt and Javon McCrea against a "bigger team" and really kept the Cougars scratching their head defensively. One thing that really didn't help the Bulls was Filzens inability to shake away and get open shots. BYU shut Flizen down, forcing the Bulls the score on the inside which is exactly what they did, giving Watt and McCrea probably their most impressive games of the season.
One thing that I found interesting throughout the game was Reggie's decision to only stay with 8 players throughout the whole game, despite the foul trouble to the forwards. Three forwards had 2+ fouls in the first half, but Reggie stuck with his horses and trusted them to play good defense without fouling, which they did a pretty good job of. The usual hockey style line change that Reggie usually uses has seem to become non-existent this year, pretty much setting in stone the 8 guys he's planning on using all year (unless Clifford plays when he comes back in the second semester). I don't know if that has to do with lack of trust in any other players, or if he just thinks that this year using fewer guys is going to help the team win. I just hope the 4 playing guards are in good enough shape to only use the 4 of them throughout the game.
Last but not least, I really am not trying to take away from a hard fought promising performance, but the Bulls have to find a way to cut down on turnovers. 20 turnovers!! That is way too many regardless of what school you're playing. And its not like its any one culprit, everybody on the floor had at least 2 of them. The Bulls have an excellent balance of scoring inside and outside this year, probably the best job of that in Bulls history over the past 6 years, but the turnovers are going to continuously kill that. Buffalo shoots 48.5% from the field as a team throughout the season, which means excellent offensive numbers, when we don't turn it over. The Bulls can be an offensive juggernaut if they learn to not give away the ball so easily.
Ive watched every team in the MAC that is suppose to be decent to good this year, and in the most unbiased way possible the Bulls really are the best team in the conference, but their conference record at the end of the year wont show it if they continue to have so many turnovers.