Tavernari growing game for Cougars

Jonathan Tavernari scored just six points Saturday in Brigham Young’s 74-48 rout of UNLV at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. But the Bishop Gorman High School graduate contributed to the Cougars in other areas, adding seven rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.

The 6-foot-6-inch sophomore from Brazil is becoming a more complete player, according to BYU coach Dave Rose.

“I think Jonathan understands how important he is to our team. Our coaches have done a great job of trying to make him understand his only importance to the team is not just shooting the ball,” Rose said during Monday’s Mountain West Conference teleconference. “He’s had a couple 10-point, 10-rebound games the last two weeks, and I really believe he’s evolved into a player who wants to expand his game instead of a player trying to prove he can really score.

“It all comes with maturity and with experience, but it also comes with team leadership. I give a lot of credit to the captains on our team who work with guys to make them understand the team is the most important thing.”

Tavernari dished out 18 assists in the first 20 games this season, but has handed out 16 in his last five games.

HITTING 20 — The Cougars’ victory over the Rebels gave first-place BYU (20-5, 9-1 MWC) at least 20 wins for the third straight season.

Rose is the third Cougars coach to win at least 20 games in each of his first three years, but the first to do so after taking over a program that won less than 13 games the previous season (BYU went 9-21 in 2004-05).

ON A ROLL — The Cougars have won a season-high eight straight games, and their 9-1 Mountain West record is their best conference start since going 14-1 in 1993, when BYU played in the Western Athletic Conference.

The Cougars also tied a team record with their 44th straight home victory — which is the second-longest streak in the country behind No. 1 Memphis — and can establish a new mark Wednesday with a win over rival Utah at the Marriott Center.

BYU’s last home loss was an 83-71 setback to Loyola Marymount on Nov. 18, 2005. The game marked the head coaching debut of Rose, who is 44-1 at the Marriott Center.

PLAISTED HONORED — BYU center Trent Plaisted and New Mexico guard J.R. Giddens were named the MWC co-players of the week. It was the third such honor this season for Plaisted, who went 9-for-9 from the field in BYU’s 79-65 win at Colorado State on Wednesday before scoring a game-high 22 points in Saturday’s rout of UNLV.

Plaisted, a 6-11 junior from San Antonio, had a season-high four dunks against the Rebels and has topped 20 points in his last three games, including a career-high 27 in a win over Texas Christian.

Plaisted is shooting better from the field (55.1 percent) than from the free-throw line (53.5 percent) this season, but he has made 23 of 35 (65.7 percent) from the line in his last four games, including 6 of 8 against UNLV.

“Trent has really spent a lot of extra time at the free-throw line in practice,” Rose said. “His work ethic continues to get better.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0354.

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