This may have been the NIT, but there was no lack of passion from either side tonight. The Hokies had a quick turnaround after an intense OT game at home on Wednesday but it did not affect their effort. The long flight showed as they struggled to score early but the Cougars were unable to take advantage of it. BYU played an extremely sloppy first half. With so many missed opportunities at the rim in the first half, you had to wonder if it would come back to bite them. Thankfully for BYU and their fans, they held on to win, 80-77.
Kyle Collinsworth was able to lead all scorers for BYU in the first half with 10, but seemed hampered in the second half. Three minutes into the second half, he came up limping and there will be speculation on whether or not he is injured. Regardless, he continued to play but never looked close to full strength. Coach Rose's predicament was magnified mid way through the second half as big men, Nate Austin and Corbin Kaufusi, both picked up their 4th foul with 9 minutes to play.
This allowed for Virginia Tech to score on 15 straight possessions as they went time after time right at the basket. BYU stood no chance at stopping dribble penetration, something they have struggled with all year. The Cougars desperately needed an X-Factor and got it with Chase Fischer who answered with this at 4 minutes to go:
FISCHER FOR THREE pic.twitter.com/v2vlYNpUBO— BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) March 19, 2016
The Cougars immediately had life and Fischer stayed shining as he scored the final 12 points for his team. BYU played fundamentally sound basketball down the stretch and most importantly, were able to survive and advance. Collinsworth finished with a gutsy 18 points and 10 assists and Zac Seljaas provided a spark off the bench with 11 points.
Give credit to Virginia Tech, they played with a lot of heart despite flying across the country just 24 hours prior. Seth Allen led the Hokies with 22 points and Zach LeDay finished with a nice stat line of 17 points and 14 rebounds. They out rebounded the Cougars 45 to 33 and controlled the paint all night. The difference may have been in the turnover differential, as the Hokies had 14, 6 more than the Cougars.
The BYU student section was also visited by head football coach, Kalani Sitake:
Something that the last football staff would not have been caught dead doing.
BYU will host the winner of Creighton and Wagner on Tuesday at the Marriott Center. Tip off is at 7PM MST.