PROVO, Utah – In a game that featured a record number of free throws and four players on each team scoring in double figures, the BYU men’s basketball team defeated Dixie State 96-85 to conclude the 2011 exhibition season Friday night in the Marriott Center.
"This was a really competitive game," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "I was pleased our guys could make a few plays down the stretch in a close game."
Junior Brock Zylstra led BYU with 23 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and was 9 of 9 from the free throw line. Junior Brandon Davies contributed 20 points on 4 of 6 shooting while senior Noah Hartsock added in a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Stephen Rogers also scored 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting.
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BYU won the free throw battle in the contest as they unofficially tied a Marriott Center record with 47 free throw attempts. The Cougars also topped the Marriott Center record with 39 free throw makes, although neither record is official because they were accomplished in an exhibition game.
Dixie State started fast by jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the first 1:39 of the first half. The Red Storm extended the lead to 10 at 12-2 before the Cougars hit their first field goal of the game, a three-pointer by Zylstra, with 16:44 remaining.
BYU battled back slowly before Rogers helped spark the offense with a steal and dunk at the 3:40 mark to bring the Cougars within three. Rogers followed his dunk by getting fouled on a three-point attempt. Rogers nailed all three free throws to tie the game at 33-33 with 2:43 left in the first half.
Rogers five quick points helped lead BYU on a 15-2 run to end the half. Hartsock gave the Cougars their first lead, 35-33, with a midrange jumped at the 1:57 mark. After scoring six more points in the final two minutes BYU took a 41-35 lead into the locker room.
BYU came out quickly in the second half and extended their lead to 11 at 46-35 with the help of two Zylstra threes. Dixie responded with a 12-0 run to retake the lead 52-50 with 13:43 left in the half.
Hartsock put the Cougars back in front with a corner three at the 11:56 mark. BYU extended the lead to seven at 66-59 before the Red Storm again came charging back with an 8-0 to take the lead 67-66 with 7:54 remaining.
The final seven minutes were a back and forth battle as the two teams struggled to maintain the lead. Between the 7:54 and 4:04 marks there were 11 lead changes and neither team took a lead of more than two during that streak.
Davies helped BYU snag the lead for good with a two-handed put back dunk with 3:38 left that put the Cougars up 81-78. BYU finished the game on a 15-7 run and did not relinquish the lead again. Rogers helped put the game away with back-to-back threes with under a minute left in the game.
"We will be able to see good things and things we can work on to help us out from this game," Rose said. "Offensively we had a good flow and defensively we have a lot of work to do."
The 11-point BYU win marked the closest exhibition victory for the Cougars since they narrowly topped the EA Sports All-Stars 75-72 in the 2003-04 season.
The Cougars will have a week off before they open the regular season in Logan, Utah against in-state rival Utah State on Friday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. MT.