PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s basketball defeated Utah Valley University 75-65 in its home opener Friday night at the Marriott Center as part of the UCCU Crosstown Clash.
"I think Mark has a good team. He has good size, good athleticism," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "I thought they were really good at running their stuff and executed well. We have an interesting group. We are still trying to find ourselves and our main stage guys are trying to get to the top of their game. I thought when it came down to winning the game our guys executed really well."
A 3-point barrage by TJ Haws early in the second half gave BYU a scoring spark and helped the Cougars pull away as they doubled their scoring total from 25 in the first half to 50 in the second. Haws hit three triples in a four-minute span as part of his game-high 23 points. He also contributed four assists and two steals, while Yoeli Childs had a 20-point, 15-rebound double-double to lead the charge in the paint.
UVU jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the opening five minutes as neither team shot the ball particularly well. BYU missed five it’s first six field goals and UVU missed six of its first nine. Former BYU basketball player Jake Toolson hit a three to go up 9-4 with 14:51 to go in the half, but Zac Seljaas responded with BYU’s first three, and Haws made a fast-break layup to bring BYU within two, 11-9.
A steal and layup from McKay Cannon gave BYU its first lead, 12-11, with 12:40 remaining in the first half. The game remained close throughout the first half, with both teams struggling to get the ball in the net. BYU’s defense held UVU without a field goal for over five minutes late in the first half, but a series of trips to foul line kept UVU in the game.
Childs had a double-double in the first half alone, with 10 points and 10 boards, and the Cougars headed to the locker room down, 26-25, at the break. BYU had three steals and four blocks in the first half, and forced a dismal 24-percent shooting percentage from UVU. The teams shot a combined 3 for 23 from the 3-point line in the opening period.
A block from Childs on one end and a 3-pointer from Haws on the other put BYU up by four, 32-28, four minutes into the second half. The shot made Haws the leading scorer with 13 points, after he reached double-digits with a mid-range jumper just minutes earlier. He hit two more threes in the following minutes, including one from well beyond the 3-point arc, to give himself 19 points and give BYU its largest lead, 43-35, with 12:41 left in the game.
The Wolverines got seven quick points following the BYU run to bring it back within two, 46-44, midway through the second half. A corner three from Isaiah White tied the game for UVU at 49 with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Wolverines then took the lead, 54-53, on a free throw with seven minutes left. Haws regained the lead for BYU and crossed the 20-point threshold from the free-throw line immediately after, followed by four quick points from Hardnett. The Cougars used an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 61-54 with under five minutes to go in the game.
UVU brought it back within four, but Seljaas hit his second 3-pointer of the night to put BYU up 68-61 late in the second half. Toolson got UVU’s 10th turnover of the night on an errant pass out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Cougars, up 70-63 with under a minute to go. BYU sealed the win with five consecutive free throws to end the game.
BYU’s defense put up eight steals and six blocks on the night, and held the Wolverines to just 25 makes on 75 field goal attempts. Childs led the game in blocks with two.
The Cougars stay at home to take on Northwestern State on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. as part of the Men Against Breast Cancer Cougar Cup. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST and will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYU Radio Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2.
Head coach Dave Rose
On what the difference was compared to the last three years games
We made big shots, it seemed like we were getting dominated on the boards but we out rebounded them 47-46. I think it came down to some execution and the seconds and third chance plays that our guys made.
On hitting shots
I like this team. We took some quick shots and still need to figure out where our rhythm is on our 3-pointers. We have three games next week and we will see how we can prepare for each one. I think what it is really important is you see some young guys coming in and helping us and then when it was time to execute in the last minutes of the game our guys did a good job of that.
Thoughts on the game
We knew if we played our game we’d win. It’s one of those things like when you’ve got your little brother talking to you all the time and telling you how good they are. You’ve just got to teach them a lesson sometimes.
On offensive woes in first half
I think we were maybe a little hyped. We were missing long on a lot of our shots, which is rare. Most shots are missed short and we missed long. I think we guarded really well. To shoot that bad and stay in it is pretty impressive. In the second half, we were able to settle down, pick our shots and shoot a lot better.
Thoughts about team’s shooting in second half
We’ve talking for a while to stay confident, shoot our shots and get good looks. At halftime we just said, ‘keep shooting our shots, they’re going to fall.’ We got into a good rhythm as a team and made good shots.
UVU head coach Mark Pope
Thoughts on the game
I’m really proud of my guys, they played really hard. We’ve had a point of emphasis the last few days about rebounding the ball and until the last five minutes of the game, we really, really rebounded the ball.
For the most part, the guys were really locked into the game plan. But at the end of the day, none of that matters, you’ve got to finish a game. We couldn’t rebound when it mattered most. We’ve got to find a way to do that. We’ve got to finish around the rim and we will.