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BYU Basketball Recap: Cougars defeat Lions despite committing 23 turnovers

It wasn’t pretty, but BYU put together enough defensive stops in the final minutes to hold on for the victory against a feisty LMU team.

NCAA Basketball: San Francisco at Brigham Young Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Mika scored 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as the BYU Cougars defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions 85-77 at the Marriott Center on Saturday night. T.J. Haws added 19 points, while Yoeli Childs just missed a double-double with 10 points and 8 rebounds. Nick Emery had his struggles finishing around the basket in the second half, but still finished with 11 points on 3/8 shooting. Elijah Bryant continued to be a luxury off the bench, finishing with 8 points and 8 rebounds.

The BYU guards showed no ability to defend LMU’s most athletic player Buay Tuach, who routinely drove and cut past defenders for multiple slam dunks in the first half. The Cougars were able to slow down Tuach later in the half by switching to the 1-3-1 zone defense and limiting his driving lanes.

Poor ball handling decisions from the Cougars allowed the Lions to come back from an early ten point deficit to tie the game at 34 with 5:02 remaining in the first half. BYU was once again plagued by turnovers in the first half, such as Nick Emery’s soft intercepted pass to Elijah Bryant while driving on his dominant left side of the floor on the fast break. Eric Mika made a similar lazy lob pass to L.J. Rose who was running the floor in transition, and Rose had no choice but to tip the ball to and LMU player.

The Lions were able to take the lead in the final minute of the first half when senior point guard Brandon Brown drove to the basket for an uncontested left handed layup, as BYU didn’t not communicate at all in defensive transition. A fast break layup by Nick Emery gave the Cougars a 43-40 lead heading into the locker room, despite committing 11 first half turnovers.

T.J. Haws hit two early three pointers to jump start the BYU offense in the second half, and the Cougars held a double digit lead for a ten minute span. However, LMU was able to trim the BYU lead to 7 after Elijah Bryant telegraphed a pass to the Lions’ Stephen Haney, who cruised in for a transition dunk with 6:30 remaining. 23 turnovers for the game prevented the Cougars from pulling away in the final minutes, but BYU did hold on for a sluggish 85-77 victory over LMU.

BYU will be back in action on Thursday night when they host the likely-#1 team in the country, Gonzaga, in a marquee match-up at the Marriott Center.

Notes and Observations:

  • By this point in the season, you hope that this inexperienced BYU team would have grown up and become more disciplined, but that couldn’t be farther from the case. 23 turnovers at home against the 179th ranked team on KenPom is preventing this team from dominating inferior competition in the West Coast Conference.
  • The primary causes of BYU turnovers tonight: dribbling into traffic, soft passes, telegraphed passes, jumping in the air to pass, and passing into tight spaces.
  • Steven Beo led all BYU players in +/- with an impressive +14 in just 13 minutes of action.
  • No BYU player recorded more than 3 assists, and T.J. Haws had just 1 assist to go with 6 turnovers.