If you’re like me, then you still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about the time UVU came to the Marriott Center and put up 114 on the Cougs. On that sad November day in 2016, BYU let UVU look like the freaking Golden State Warriors, allowing them to shoot 48.6% (18-36) from behind the arc in a terrible 114-101 loss. So forgive me when I had flashbacks of that embarrassing loss during the first half of this game. At the end of the day though a win is a win, so let’s get started.
-TJ Haws: TJ must have read my last blog and used it as bulletin board material to bounce back — and he bounced back in a BIG way tonight. 23 points on 8-12 shooting (3-8 from deep), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers. Haws started off kind of slow during the first 15 minutes and it looked like he was going to have another tough shooting night. What really got him going though was the two open mid-range jumpers he took from the right side of the floor. He obviously needed to see the ball go in, and all of the sudden the basket started to look a lot bigger and he started hitting his threes. Once his threes started falling, everything opened up for him.
UVU started to close out harder on him which led to some really great drives to the basket for an easy layup or a kick out to the open man in the corner. The perfect example of this was his pump fake that got his defender to leave his feet on the close out and he drove to the basket and kicked it to Seljaas in the corner who then made a filthy step back three. I don’t expect Haws to average 23 points a night, but if he can consistently live in the 15-point range and relieve some of the pressure off of Yoeli, then I think this team will really cook.
-Yoeli Childs: Speaking of Yoeli, just another casual double-double for the NBA prospect. 20 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. I hope BYU fans realize how special of a player he is and don’t take for granted getting to watch someone with his caliber of talent. He is so important to this offense. I was really frustrated with the lack of ball movement in the first half, but in the second half they ran a lot of sets to get Yoeli the ball in the low post. He is such a dangerous scorer in the low post that he demands double teams.
I thought he did a fantastic job of recognizing the double team and dishing the ball to Nixon or Harding, who both made really great cuts to the basket once they realized their man went to go help on the double team. This is the type of offense I want to see more of. I am fine with taking a lot of threes so long as they are a product of the offense. What I mean by that is the shots started falling once the ball hit the paint and would get kicked back out and rotated to the open man. Dave Rose keeps talking about how this is a lot better shooting team than he has had in years past and I think that can be true so long as those shots are created within the offensive set.
-Dalton Nixon: Dalton is such a stud. His hustle plays are what allowed BYU to get some breathing room towards the end of the game. He is someone I want on the floor in the last few minutes of the game because his energy really sparks the rest of the team.
-Gavin Baxter: Give Gavin Baxter all the minutes. That is all.
-Rebounding: Don’t let the final box score fool you; even though BYU ended up with 47 rebounds to UVU’s 46, our lack of rebounding is what ultimately kept UVU in this game. UVU had 16 offensive rebounds. 16! I understand that every once in a while the ball comes off the rim in a weird way, so it’s inevitable that they are going to give up a few offensive rebounds, but 16 is just outrageous.
Rebounding is all about effort. It’s about who wants it more and is willing to fight and box out. In the first half it looked like BYU was allergic to rebounding. I mean Baylee Steele had 19 rebounds!! What even is that?!? Luckily he couldn’t make a put back to save his life. If BYU keeps letting teams have second chance opportunities like this, then this is going to be a long season.
-Something related is how BYU let UVU come out and punch them in the mouth. Clearly UVU does not like being known as the “safety school across town” and gets up to play BYU. In that first half it looked like BYU thought that simply because they were BYU they were going to win the game. This team cannot let that mindset creep in. The WCC is not a strong conference. Outside of Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga, the conference is made up UVU-type schools. BYU needs all the help it can get in order to get into the NCAA Tournament this year. BYU needs to do everything it can to avoid losing to some of those weaker schools in the conference; the first step to that is going into the games with the proper mindset.
-Luke Worthington: This is now Worthington’s second flagrant foul in two games. This one was identical to the one against Nevada: he gets tied up with someone by hooking the other player’s arm and pulls them to the ground. In a night where he did not get very many minutes, it would have been nice to see him use them a little bit better, instead of making frustrating fouls.
-NCAA Sanctions: The NCAA came out with BYU’s punishment for the Nick Emery debacle. Among the more notable sanctions is the fact that BYU will be forced to vacate 47 wins from Emery’s freshman and sophomore year. In addition, BYU will be placed on a two-year probation and will have to forfeit one of their scholarships. I have a question about this: if BYU is going to cheat, then why are we cheating for Nick Emery?? I really don’t mean that as a knock against Emery—was it ever really a question that he would come to BYU? So if we have Boosters who are willing to drop the bag for players, why not use that on some five star recruits?? The honor code would look a lot more appealing when you’re also promised 100k. Just sayin’.
All in all, what looked like another frustrating loss to that safety school across town in the beginning ended up being a win with some good moments that will give this team something to build on going forward.
BYU Football travels to my hometown to play UMass at Gillette. I am very excited to get to see Zach Wilson in person. I pray that our national nightmare will finally end and we can get back into the win column against UMass.
On to Northwestern State.