PROVO, Utah – BYU men’s basketball defeated Oral Roberts University 85-65 Thursday in the Marriott Center behind 24 points and 14 rebounds from Yoeli Childs.
"That was a good win for our guys," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "I thought we did a few things really, really well and obviously we’ve got a lot of things we still need to work on."
Childs entered the game needing 16 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He became the 51st player in BYU men's basketball history – and 15th under Rose – to reach the milestone.
In addition to Childs, BYU also got a solid outing from its starting backcourt of Jahshire Hardnett and TJ Haws. Hardnett was one point shy of his career high with 16 points on 6 for 11 shooting, and Haws posted eight points along with a career-high eight rebounds and season-high six assists. Freshman Connor Harding provided a spark off the bench with 10 points on 4 for 8 shooting and seven rebounds. Hardnett also tied his season high with four assists.
Childs opened the scoring for BYU with a 3-pointer to take an early 3-2 lead in the opening minutes. The Golden Eagles fired back with a three of their own to take a 7-5 lead five minutes into the first half. The Cougars came out of the timeout with a layup from Childs to tie the game at 7, and two made free throws from Nixon put BYU back in the lead, 9-7.
A quick 5-0 run, spurred by a three and an assist from Hardnett, gave the Cougars a 16-13 lead and forced a timeout from ORU eight minutes in. The Golden Eagles stayed with the Cougars midway through the first half thanks to their hot shooting from behind the arc and solid scoring from their bench.
BYU missed six of its first eight 3-pointers and found itself down, 20-19, with 7:27 left in the first half. A series of fouls by ORU put BYU in the bonus early, allowing the Cougars to slow the game down and gain some shooting confidence from the charity stripe. Harding made BYU's third 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 26-23 lead just minutes later, and a fast-break layup from the standout freshman gave BYU its largest lead, 32-25, with just over four minutes remaining.
Harding got a steal and that ended in a three-point play immediately following an ORU timeout to give him 10 points – and a three by Zac Seljaas put the Cougars up by double-digits, 38-26, with under three minutes to go. Rylan Bergersen came into the game for Harding and immediately scored five quick points, including a layup through contact and a 3-pointer, to give BYU a 43-31 lead at halftime.
Childs had eight points and six rebounds in the opening period, while Harding added four boards to his double-digit scoring half. The Cougar defense forced nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes and scored 13 points off of them to take control of the game. BYU handled ORU’s full-court press defense well in the first half, committing just four turnovers.
Childs reached double figures on the first play of the second half with a euro-step lay-in to give him 10 points. The Golden Eagles then committed two quick fouls and put Nixon at the free-throw line, where he extended the BYU lead to 47-33 just a minute in. A quick layup from Haws pushed the Cougars to their largest lead, 49-33, and caused an ORU timeout.
Childs got his 10th rebound of the night just three minutes into the second half to give him his fourth consecutive double-double. Hardnett reached double figures from the free-throw line six minutes into the second half. An impressive baseline fadeaway jumper, followed by an and-one shot from the paint brought Childs up to 16 points and extended the BYU lead to 22. He then hit his second 3-pointer of the game to give him 19 points and put BYU in a comfortable 69-43 lead.
ORU hit its sixth 3-pointer of the game to bring the Golden Eagles within 20, but Childs scored his 21st point of the game to maintain momentum and reach his second 20-point performance of the season. Childs completed an and-one play with under four minutes remaining to push BYU past the 80-point threshold and give himself 24 points on the night. The Cougars missed just five free throws in the game, hitting 21 of 26 for a solid 81 percent from the line.
The win puts BYU at 3-1 on the season heading into Saturday’s matchup against Alabama A&M at 4 p.m. in the Marriott Center. The game will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYU Radio Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM and KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.