BYU nabbed a victory over an athletic and tenacious Tennessee State team in the Cougars' home opener.
It took a while, but BYU finally wore down Tennessee State tonight in Provo and won 81-66. The game was tight until about the last ten minutes when foul trouble and tiring legs finally slowed Tennessee State down and allowed the Cougars to pull away. BYU was led in scoring by Tyler Haws who had 22 points. The often-double-teamed Brandon Davies scored 16 and Brock Zylstra was BYU's third leading scorer with 11 points.
BYU struggled getting into their offensive sets due to the swarming press that the Tigers employed in much of the game. That press led to 17 BYU turnovers, most of which came in the second half. However, BYU's defense was even more effective than TSU's, as the Cougs employed a stifling zone through much of the night that limited Tennessee State to less than 34% shooting.
The Cougars, when they broke the press, got good looks at the basket and finished the night with an impressive 54% shooting percentage overall (although BYU shot a less impressive 35% from beyond the arc). In addition, the BYU defense forced 17 turnovers of their own and held TSU's star player, Robert Covington, just nine points.
There was a scary moment late in the game when Tennessee State's Jordan Cyphers slipped off the rim on a breakaway dunk attempt and landed on his head, splitting it open. Cyphers was able to walk off the floor to get medical attention.
While it didn't seem like a decisive win throughout most of the game, in the end it was an impressive performance by BYU on defense. Further, BYU did manage to hit more than half of the shots they took so that is something the Cougars hope will become a habit.
BYU takes on Georgia State in Provo next Tuesday as the next in the Coaches Vs Cancer early games. That game will be at 7:00 Mountain Time in the Marriott Center.