This year has not gone well for BYU basketball on the road, but tonight was a bright spot. Yoeli Childs played the best game of his young career as BYU bounced back nicely from the Pepperdine loss with a 68-52 victory over San Francisco at War Memorial Gym on Saturday night. Childs finished with a career high of 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 39 minutes played.
T.J. Haws came alive in the second half and finished with 17 points on 6/11 shooting, 3/7 from beyond the arc. Despite playing only 26 minutes due to foul trouble, Eric Mika contributed 12 points and 8 rebounds. Elijah Bryant also sat much of the second half due to foul trouble, but was the 4th Cougar in double figures with an efficient 11 points on 3/6 shooting.
BYU did a good job mixing up their defense in the early minutes between man-to-man and the 1-3-1 zone with Davin Guinn active at the top. As a result, USF started the game making just 2 of their first 19 shots from the field. Eric Mika stepped in front of a post feed for a steal, and Bryant and Childs both made highlight-reel blocks as BYU got out to an early 15-6 lead.
Yoeli Childs carried the Cougars on offense, scoring in a variety of ways: a dunk off of great dribble penetration from T.J. Haws, two medium range jump shots, and a nice jump hook after posting up. His most impressive basket came when he hit a turnaround fadeaway jumper at the free throw line that was eerily similar to former BYU forward Noah Hartsock’s trademark.
The Cougars had their defenders sagging in the paint, and were more or less content to allow the Dons to fire up as many three pointers as they pleased, which worked fairly well. In the first half, USF managed to hit just 6/22 three pointers and made only two baskets inside the arc. BYU held a comfortable 36-22 lead heading into the locker room behind 13 points and 7 rebounds from Childs.
T.J. Haws swished back-to-back three pointers as BYU expanded the lead to 18 points at the first media timeout of the second half. The Cougars played much of the second half without Eric Mika, who picked up a technical foul for hanging on the rim for too long when dunking after the referee’s whistle had already blown. This could have been a huge momentum swing in the game, but USF missed the technical free throw and didn’t score on the ensuing possession either. It was Childs’ effort on both ends of the floor that kept the Dons from gaining any momentum, as BYU led by double figures for the entire second half en route to the 16 point victory.
It is not a secret that BYU’s defense is wildly inconsistent, and this game was a combination of better discipline on their part complemented by USF’s inexplicable failure to convert anything around the rim and desire to settle for too many three pointers.
Here are the Dons’ final shooting numbers: 6/30 (20%) on two pointers, 12/43 (27.9%) from beyond the arc, and 4/9 (44.4%) at the charity stripe. After Pepperdine seemingly could not miss on Thursday night, maybe USF’s shooting performance was just the law of averages coming into play. However, BYU still did a good job of avoiding defensive breakdowns and dribble penetration, as very few of USF’s shots were entirely uncontested.
The Cougars will look to bolster their NIT resume (sigh!) next week when they host both San Diego on Thursday and then #20 ranked Saint Mary’s on Saturday at the Marriott Center.
News and Notes
- Despite a strong offensive showing against Pepperdine, Nick Emery finished with just 4 points on 1/9 shooting, the 4th time in the last 6 games that he’s scored 5 points or fewer.
- Davin Guinn scored just one point on offense, but his sideline-to-sideline effort on defense really helped slow USF down. BYU was +12 in the 24 minutes Guinn played.
- Careless turnovers, especially from Haws and Bryant, are still a major issue for this BYU team. They dished out just 7 assists compared with 16 turnovers in the victory tonight.