The BYU Cougars looked to keep pace in the West Coast Conference as they faced off against the Pacific Tigers. With a win the Cougars took over possession of third place as Pepperdine lost and fell half a game behind BYU. Playing on the road is always tough, and the Cougars were doing it without their second leading scorer, Anson Winder, as he sat out with a sprained knee.
As is becoming a custom for the Cougars, they once again started the scoring with a three point shot. Skyler Halford was the trigger man on this shot as he jumped into the starting lineup for Winder. The Cougars got a scare early in the half after a Chase Fischer three, and then a Tyler Haws three, Fischer went down hard with what appeared to be a hand injury. After leaving the floor he went straight back to the locker room, increasing Cougar fans concerns.
The teams continued to trade buckets as both teams were hot from the field. Much to the delight of Cougar fans, Fischer made his way back to the court after just a few minutes. With the officials calling the game close, Dalton Nixon, Jake Toolson, Josh Sharp, and even Ryan Andrus entered the game in the first half. Nixon made his presence known right away with a lay-up to give the Cougars a 12-8 lead, but the Tigers wouldn't go away. Pacific stayed close in the first half with 14 of their first 16 points coming in the paint. For the half the Tigers scored 24 of 34 in the paint, dominating the Cougars inside.
The Cougars led for the entire half but began to gain momentum after a Halford three put the Cougars up four. After a defensive stop, the Cougars missed a shot but Kyle Collinsworth used his athleticism to sky for the offensive rebound, and the put back, giving the Cougars a six point lead.
Collinsworth would fire up the BYU faithful on an out of bounds play as he was throwing it in from under his own basket, and finding nobody open, he tossed it off the backside of the defender in front of him and created his own layup. With the Cougars up 34-30, Andrus made sure he was put in the box score as he hit a three and a layup to score five straight for the Cougars. After a four point run for the Tigers, BYU responded with their own 6-0 run to end the half, capped off by a Collinsworth layup as time expired. The Cougars nine point lead was aided in part by the 0-of-9 Tigers shooting from behind the three point line.
BYU came out of the half with a quick jump shot by Haws that gave the Cougars an 11 point lead, their first double digit lead of the game. The Cougars would build it to 12 before the Tigers hit their first three of the game, cutting it back to nine. The Cougars kept the lead close to 10 before the post players once again found themselves in foul trouble as Luke Worthington and Corbin Kaufusi found themselves with four fouls each, and still 10 minutes left in the game. Haws struggled for most of the game as he went 3-11 before once again pulling a trick out of his bag. After a long rebound on a Collinsworth miss, Haws took the ball and for the second game in a row faked the pass, drawing the defenders eyes to the paint, and hit an easy jump shot.
With the 10 point lead the Cougars looked to be in control before Pacific worked their way back into the game due to hustle plays, offensive rebounds, and the Cougars offense going cold. With the score 61-57, the Cougars took back control of the game as they went on 19-7 run to take a 80-64 lead.
Two of the points in that run came on Haws free throws, givingreached 20 points for the 63rd time in his BYU career, tying Jimmer Fredette for 3rd all-time. With four more, he will tie Michael Smith for first on the list.
With less than five minutes left and a 14 point lead, the only thing left to be determined was if Collinsworth would earn his fourth triple-double on the year. Once again, Collinsworth didn't disappoint as he recorded his 10th rebound, and fourth triple-double, with 3:18 left in the game. Collinsworth's feat ties the NCAA record for the most in a season, and the Cougars aren't close to being done.
With the win, the Cougars are now 15-5 overall and 5-2 in WCC conference play.
Collinsworth ended the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Haws added 26 points, Fischer added 18, and Halford gave the Cougars 15. T.J. Wallace led the Tigers with 17 and Gabriel Aguirre added 15.
BYU will next travel to take on Saint Mary's on Saturday, January 17th at 9pm MST. The game will be televised on ESPN2.