Yoeli Childs scored 16 of his 19 points after halftime as the BYU Cougars (11-2) overcame a sloppy first half to defeat the Texas Southern Tigers (0-13, with all 13 losses on on the road) by a score of 73-52 at the Marriott Center on Saturday night. TJ Haws was the only other double figure scorer with 11 points on 4/8 shooting, but six other Cougars scored between 5 and 9 points.
Texas Southern was missing several key players, including leading scorer Demontrae Jefferson (23.4 PPG), mourning the loss of his father, who was tragically killed earlier this week. Their bench looked rather empty, as they had only eight total players make the trip to Provo.
BYU was able to feed the ball into Childs early against Texas Southern’s 2-3 zone defense, but Yoeli struggled to finish around the rim, making just one of his first five shots in the opening minutes. Zac Seljaas came off the bench and scored 5 quick points to give the Cougars a 17-11 lead with 11:05 left in the first half. Childs continued to struggle on both ends of the floor and at the foul line, allowing Texas Southern to take a 28-24 lead with two minutes left in the half.
Every Cougar starter other than Luke Worthington picked up two fouls in the opening 20 minutes, leading to extended playing time from sparingly-used freshman Rylan Bergersen, who knocked down a three pointer but had some questionable moments on defense. Despite shooting just 12/31 from the field, BYU scored the last 7 points of the half to take a 31-28 lead heading to the locker room.
The turning point of the game occured when Texas Southern’s best available player Donte Clark picked up his 4th foul with 15:16 remaining. Childs knocked down both free throws to give the Cougars a 40-33 lead. A mid-range jumper from Seljaas gave BYU their first double-digit lead with 12:25 remaining, then Payton Dastrup continued to showcase his range with a three pointer to add to the lead. A put-back dunk plus the foul shot from Childs off a transition miss by McKay Cannon pushed the Cougar lead to 17, and the Cougars were able to comfortably hold off Texas Southern for the victory.
BYU will open up West Coast Conference play next week with home games against Portland and Saint Mary’s on Thursday and Saturday respectively.