PROVO, Utah – Dalton Nixon started and tied a career-high with 15 points as BYU beat Northwestern State 82-57 Tuesday Night in the Marriott Center.
"We’re happy for the win. It’s a good start to a busy week," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "I think that there are a lot of things we can learn from this film that will help us to have a better day tomorrow, as far as our preparation."
Freshman Connor Harding’s 11 points and freshman Gavin Baxter’s four blocks were also career bests for the Cougars. Yoeli Childs led all scorers and rebounders with his double-double of 18 points and 15 boards.
With the Cougars up 10-8, Nixon received a dish underneath from Zac Seljaas and scored while being fouled. He knocked down the free throw to make it a five-point lead through five minutes.
Both teams stalled on offense for the next several minutes, but Northwestern State hit a 3 to tie it at 17-17 with just under nine minutes left in the half. TJ Haws answered with a long 3 on the next possession, and Harding hit from deep 30 seconds later to put BYU up 23-19.
With under five minutes in the half, Childs hit a pair of free throws to get to 10 points and give the Cougars a 32-23 advantage. Two minutes later, Nixon completed his second 3-point play to put BYU up by a game-high 10 points at 35-25.
The Cougars closed out the half on a 10-0 run to lead 42-25.
With the first eight points of the second half, BYU led 50-25 and continued their scoring run. Nixon got to double digits in scoring for the first time this season.
Seljaas hit his second 3-pointer from the wing to make it 55-35 for the Cougars with 14:13 left in the game.
Harding hit a pair of free throws with 8:22 left to get to 11 points and put BYU up 70-42. He became the third Cougar to reach 10 points in just 13 minutes of action.
Freshman Kolby Lee got BYU to 80 points with a free throw in the waning moments.
The Cougars finish the week with home games against Oral Roberts on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Alabama A&M on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both games can be seen live on BYUtv, with audio on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2) and KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM).
Head coach Dave Rose
We’re happy for the win. It’s a good start to a busy week. I think that there are a lot of things we can learn from this film that will help us to get a better day tomorrow, as far as our preparation. We’re looking forward to Oral Roberts on Thursday.
We had a good scouting report on them. It was limited to just a couple films, but we got them scouted as far as who we thought were their shooters. I think what they did really well against us is that they came in here with a good plan to distort our rhythm and we never really got in an offensive rhythm. I thought we competed well defensively and on the boards, but we turned the ball over way too many times, especially in the first half. They did a nice job of trying to slow us down in transition.
On offensive rhythm
Early in the game we got open shots but probably took them a little too quick. We missed our first five threes, and that kind of makes us a little bit hesitant, where we’re not really sure of the next play. That rhythm offensively, we’re still looking for it. We had times during the game tonight where we had great stretches and good rhythm, we just need to expand it.
On Connor Harding’s performance
I think Connor’s really starting to get comfortable out there. You have three games, and he’s playing anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes a game, but the time he’s on the floor is really productive. Gavin Baxter is having that same type of progress. Offensively he doesn’t have quite the same effect on the team that Connor is having, but defensively and in the post and his ability to execute our plan, I think he’s coming along pretty well too. Those two freshmen are really making strides.
On his career high
I just tried to be active on the offensive end. I knew that they would put a lot of pressure so some of those cuts to the basket and early on they were open.
As a team we’ve come out in these first three games and struggled to shoot the ball in the first half. I think as each individual sees a few drop, it’ll really open up and we’ll get used to shooting under the lights in the Marriott Center. Shooting the ball from 3 is something that we want to do better as a team because we believe we are good shooters. We’ll get back in the gym and shoot more shots.
On the defensive effort
It was a lot better in the second half. It was more consistent at least. There were times when we were flat but overall we did a good job sticking to the scouting report and bringing the energy that we needed tonight.
On his role this season
I still see it the same as someone that can bring energy and be a communicator on the court. I’ve had the opportunity to be that guy. I want to be a threat offensively to open it up for Yoeli, TJ and our other shooters. I try to play as hard as I can with the opportunities I’m given on the court.
On playing three games in a week
It’s good to prepare for circumstances like the conference tournament where there’s a quick turnaround for games. It’s good especially for the younger guys to come in and get our focus on a new team.
On his career high
It had a lot to do with the point guards sharing the ball and breaking down the defense to get open and make the right cut. That’s what happened tonight.
On his role on the team
I’m there for whatever I need to do for the team. Whether it’s defensive stops, rebounds or cuts. I usually just try to make the right play to make the team better. That’s my role right now. I do whatever I can to get wins.
On three games in one week
Absolutely. I think that’s every basketball player’s dream to have a game every single day. It’s all about maintaining our focus, our scouting reports and being able to bring it every single day. That’s what we’ve done all summer as we’ve trained to prepare for moments like this. We can’t wait to play two more games.