Cougars eclipse Sun Devils behind Waterman's 24 points

Noah Waterman scored a career-high 24 points in BYU men’s basketball’s dominant 77-49 win over Arizona State on Thursday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

Noah Waterman attempts a 3-pointer in BYU's matchup against Arizona State at the Vegas Showdown.Noah Waterman attempts a 3-pointer in BYU's matchup against Arizona State at the Vegas Showdown.

LAS VEGAS — Noah Waterman scored a career-high 24 points in BYU men’s basketball’s dominant 77-49 win over Arizona State on Thursday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

"I'm super proud of the guys for punishing the press. Our ball security was good enough,” said Mark Pope, BYU head coach. “For our guys to step up and makes shots, especially Noah, is huge. He is an elite-level shooter and has been playing so hard. He has had huge impacts before he starts making shots, and that is what great players do.”

Waterman’s 24 points came on 9-of-14 shooting from the field including 6-of-9 from 3-point range to go along with seven rebounds. While no other BYU player scored in double figures, nine different players scored.

Richie Saunders scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds. Trevin Knell and Jaxson Robinson scored all of their nine and eight respective points in the second half.  Fousseyni Traore scored six to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. 

BYU overcame cold shooting in the first half to shoot 52 percent from the floor and 57 percent from distance in the second.

The Cougars led for 36 of 40 minutes and shot 41 percent for the game including 42 percent from beyond the arc. BYU outrebounded Arizona State 51-32 and 18-8 on the offensive glass. The Cougars recorded 18 assists on 27 made field goals while holding the Sun Devils to seven assists on 19 made field goals. Arizona State shot 33 percent for the game and 10 percent from distance.

First Half

Waterman made his presence felt early as he scored seven of BYU’s first 12 points. The senior forward knocked down a corner 3-pointer to start the scoring for the Cougars then scored in the paint moments later following the first of BYU’s many offensive rebounds from Traore. Waterman covered both the board and the score on the Cougars’ next possession as he putback an errant 3-point shot for two and the 12-7 lead.

While BYU scored nine unanswered on offense, its defense held Arizona State scoreless for eight minutes until a Sun Devil score made it 12-9 with 9:13 to play in the half. The Cougars then went over five minutes without a score before Johnson took the lid off the basket with a 3-pointer. Waterman struck again from three on the ensuing possession and BYU was back up 18-9.

Dallin Hall engineered back-to-back scoring possessions that kept the Cougars in charge by nine. The sophomore point guard drove and handed off to Traore for a score down low then came right back and drove through a thicket of defenders for a reverse lay-in.

BYU’s command of the offensive glass and unselfish play was never more evident in the half than a sequence in the closing minute of the period in which Richie Saunders missed the free throw on a potential 3-point play, then snagged the rebound and passed outside to Trey Stewart who knocked down the 3-pointer from the right wing.

Two free throws from Stewart and another 3-pointer from Waterman gave the Cougars a 32-17 halftime lead.

Despite shooting 31 percent from the field for the half, BYU used six made 3-pointers and aggressive rebounding to hold the double-digit lead at the break. The Cougars doubled-up the Sun Devils 32-16 in rebounding, including 11-2 on the offensive glass. BYU also held Arizona State to 8-of-28 from the field and 1-of-11 from deep while spotting the Sun Devils four points on seven turnovers.

Waterman led all scorers at the half with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting including 3-of-6 from 3-point range.

Second Half

BYU fed off its 3-point shooting to quickly extend its lead after the break. Waterman struck again from deep to open the half followed by a transition trey from Knell to put the Cougars up 38-19 and force a quick timeout from Arizona State.

Knell and Waterman continued to fire away from deep and pushed BYU’s lead to 17 at 47-30 five minutes into the half. A score in the post from Traore and two free-throw makes from Hall then gave the Cougars their first 20-point advantage of the game at 51-31.

Jaxson Robinson scored his first points of the game with a 3-pointer at the 11-minute mark in the half. BYU pulled away with a commanding lead over the final 10 minutes of the game, never in front by fewer than 20 over the last 11 minutes.

BYU plays its final game at the Vegas Showdown on Friday at 7 p.m. PST versus NC State. Watch the Cougars and Wolfpack face-off on ESPN2 or tune in for live play-by-play on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, Radio app or KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.

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