PROVO, Utah – The 2016-17 BYU basketball season came to an end as the No. 3 seed Cougars fell to No. 6 seed UT Arlington 105-89 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
"I think these two teams were in two different places tonight," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "UTA was extremely good at executing, and they were a step ahead of us the whole time. We were not reacting quick enough. We had a really hard time getting stops in the first half, and they made some tough shots, but they also got a lot of exactly what they wanted to get. It was us being a step slower. "
Eric Mika was one of four Cougars to score double-digit points as he led the team with 29 points and seven rebounds. Nick Emery posted 24 points and seven rebounds of his own. TJ Haws contributed 11 points while Colby Leifson came off the bench to chip in 10 points. UTA (26-8, 14-4 Sun Belt) outshot BYU (22-12, 12-6 WCC) 55 percent from the field to 43 percent while scoring 32 points off turnovers to the Cougars’ seven points.
The Mavericks set the tone for a fast-paced game as the UTA offense built a quick 7-2 lead. Yoeli Childs and Emery combined for seven points to help the Cougars close the gap to 15-13. Mika kept BYU close with a dunk and a pair of three throws to tie the game at 19 apiece with 12:54 on the clock.
UTA went on an 8-0 run before the Cougars fought back to cut the deficit to one as Zach Frampton hit his first career three. BYU fed off the momentum as Emery shot from behind the arc to tie the game 38-38 with seven and a half minutes to go.
After trailing by five, the Cougars again tied the game at 47-all, but BYU struggled to keep up as the Mavericks regained a seven-point lead to close the first half, 62-55.
UTA struck first on two possessions to kick off the second half with a 12-point lead. Haws chipped in a bucket from deep but the Cougars couldn’t hold their rhythm. Emery found the net on a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to eight, 76-68, at the 13:12 mark but BYU went cold from the floor and the Mavericks extended their advantage to 15.
Trying the rally BYU’s offense, Emery hit another three and converted a free throw followed by a pair of free throws by Childs. It wasn’t enough to halt UTA’s offense as the Mavericks answered with a 12-3 run for a 98-79 lead with three minutes to go. The Mavericks led by as many as 23 before they sealed the 105-89 win.
BYU basketball will host UT Arlington in the Marriott Center in the first round of the 2017 NIT Wednesday at 9 p.m. MDT. Monday's game will be televised live on ESPN2 and broadcast live on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.
BYU received an at-large bid to the NIT for the second-straight season. The Cougars are a No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 seed UT Arlington, the Sun Belt Conference regular season champion. This is the second meeting all-time between the two schools.
As a No. 2 seed last season, the Cougars advanced to the semifinals of the NIT in Madison Square Garden. BYU defeated No. 7 seed UAB 97-79, No. 3 seed Virginia Tech 80-77 and No. 4 seed Creighton 88-82. All three games were in the Marriott Center.
Eric Mika has collected several postseason awards, including All-WCC First Team, USBWA District VIII Player of the Year and CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team.
BYU Cougars (22-11, 12-6 WCC)
- Head Coach: Dave Rose
- Alma Mater: Houston, 1983
- Division I Career Record: 305-110 (12th)
- Record at BYU: Same
UT Arlington Mavericks (25-8, 14-4 Sun Belt)
- Head Coach: Scott Cross
- Alma Mater: UT Arlington, 1998
- Career Record: 202-147 (11th)
- Record at UT Arlington: Same
- TV: ESPN2
- TV Talent: Eric Rothman (play-by-play), Corey Williams (analyst)
- Live Video: WatchESPN.com
- Radio: Cougar IMG Sports Network, 102.7 FM/1160 AM, BYU Radio, Sirius XM 143
- Radio Talent: Greg Wrubell (play-by-play), Mark Durrant (analyst)
- Live Stats: BYUcougars.com
Series Record: BYU leads 1-0
Last Meeting: BYU won 87-70, 12/9/88