PROVO, Utah (AP) -Jonathan Tavernari's parents traveled from Brazil this week to see their son play for No. 17 BYU.
The senior forward didn't disappoint them.
BYU's all-time leading 3-point shooter came in off the bench and provided instant offense with a season-high 19 points, and Jackson Emery added 18 to lead the Cougars to a 91-48 victory over Air Force on Saturday night.
``He's been terrific the last month, especially in practices where he's shot with a lot of confidence,' said BYU coach Dave Rose, who benched Tavernari after a six-game shooting slump to start the season. ``We get him playing with that look in his eye when he releases the ball where he knows it's going in, and that's big for our team.'
Tavernari hit five consecutive 3-pointers and scored 17 points during a decisive 28-5 run midway through the first half.
``The reason this team is so good is we have so many options,' Tavernari said.
BYU (23-3, 8-2 Mountain West) shot 56 percent and made 12 of 20 3-point attempts in the team's first game since No. 23 UNLV outgunned the Cougars a week ago.
``It was hard last week, not that we lost but how we lost,' said Emery, who tied a BYU record with his 66th steal of the season. ``It's hard to sit on a loss like that for a week. But it was good to work hard and reevaluate what we want to accomplish.'
Reserve Mike Fitzgerald scored 13 points to lead Air Force (9-15, 1-10). The loss was the Falcons' 10th in a row against BYU and their 15th straight defeat on the road in conference play. It was also the worst loss for Air Force in the 64-game series between the teams.
``We did not defend very well,' Falcons coach Jeff Reynolds said. ``They moved the ball really well and they played the best offense they could have played.'
Tavernari said his hot shooting had nothing to do with having his wife Kiri in the stands with his parents, Roberto and Thelma Tavernari.
``I made five 3-pointers because we played as a team,' he said. ``We assisted on 20 baskets out of the 30 field goals we made.'
Tavernari scored 12 points in just over 2 minutes during the Cougars' big first-half run, hitting four straight 3s. After teammate Noah Hartsock made a layup, Tavernari added the fifth 3-pointer. The run turned a 7-6 Air Force lead into a 32-12 BYU advantage.
BYU's steals record was set by Marty Haws in 1990. Haws' son Tyler, a freshman guard for the Cougars, scored 16 points and added a career-high four steals of his own against the Falcons.
The win was the 20th straight at home for BYU.
BYU freshman center Brandon Davies played for the first time since having his appendix removed on Feb. 3, while guard Lamont Morgan missed the game after having surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus. He is expected to miss two-to-four weeks.
The Associated Press News Service
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