Cougars down Toreros 93-70 behind Lee’s career night
PROVO, Utah – Sophomore Kolby Lee scored a career-high 21 points as BYU men’s basketball defeated San Diego 93-70 at the Marriott Center on Thursday.
"It’s fun to watch these guys grow," BYU head coach Mark Pope. "Kolby was great to watch tonight because he’s growing before our eyes. I’m proud of all the guys. It was a great team effort. San Diego is a dangerous team, just like every team in our league. Overall, it was a great win and now we’re moving on."
Lee made all eight of his attempts from the field to tie for the third-most makes in a game without a miss in program history. The forward also pulled down five rebounds and went four of six from the free throw line. Five other Cougars reached double figures in scoring with TJ Haws scoring 19 points and Jake Toolson contributing 14 points. Dalton Nixon added 12 points of his own while both Alex Barcello and Connor Harding scored 11 apiece.
BYU (14-5, 3-1 WCC) shot an exceptional 55 percent from the field while making 11 of its 22 3-point attempts. The Cougars also dominated the paint throughout the game, outscoring San Diego (7-13, 0-5 WCC) 42-14.
Haws started the game with a layup and a jumper in the lane to help the Cougars to an early 6-0 lead over the Toreros. San Diego answered with nine-straight points to gain its first lead of the game. After being fouled on a 3-point attempt, Toolson knocked down all three free throws to tie the game at 9-9 five minutes into the game.
The Toreros made a pair of treys to fuel a 10-2 run and reclaim the advantage, 19-11. Nixon threw down a baseline dunk and Barcello drained two shots from behind the arc to spark a 9-0 run by BYU to retake the lead, 20-19, with 10:15 remaining in the first half.
Harding made a backdoor, reverse layup and hit a 3-pointer to even the game at 28-all. Lee scored in the post to break the tie and Haws knocked down a mid-range jumper to give the Cougars a 32-28 edge with less than five minutes left in the period.
After San Diego tied the game at 34, Haws crossed over his defender for a step-back 3-pointer as BYU went on an 11-0 run in the closing minutes of the period. The Toreros ended their scoring drought with a jumper at the 1:06 mark. Harding drained a trey on the following possession to send the Cougars to the half with a 48-36 advantage.
Haws and Lee led BYU at the break with 12 points apiece. The Cougars shot 55.2 percent from the field and made six of 13 shots from behind the arc in the half. The BYU defense forced 11 turnovers in the first period while holding San Diego to 33.3 percent from the field.
Toolson opened the second half with a pair of baskets in the paint while Haws and Lee each added a layup to give the Cougars a 58-39 lead. Following a Torero layup, Barcello added two free throws to maintain the 19-point lead with 14:48 left in the game.
San Diego cut the deficit to 14 points before Barcello scored a 3-pointer and Haws made a layup to reclaim the 19-point edge, 65-46. Lee scored in the post on back-to-back to possessions to give BYU a 69-49 advantage with 10:27 remaining.
Harding, Haws and Toolson each scored a 3-pointer to increase the margin to 28 points, 84-56. The Cougars continued their 3-point barrage as Lee drained a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give BYU its largest lead of the game, 87-58.
San Diego put together an 8-0 run with several minutes remaining to make the score 92-68. Nixon added two baskets late in the game as the Cougars cruised to the 93-70 victory.
BYU will next head to Spokane, Washington, to face No. 1 Gonzaga in the McCarthey Athletic Center on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. PST. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and radio broadcasts will be available on BYU Radio Sirius SM 143/89.1 FM and KSL 102.7/1160 AM.