After that rough loss to Weber State, I began to wonder whether it would ever be fun to watch BYU Basketball again. Well, BYU quickly gave the answer to that question with a huge (and much needed) bounce back win against Utah State.
Coming into tonight, Utah State was ranked 53 by kenpom and their biggest win coming against Saint Mary’s, a game which they won handedly 80-63. It was a very real possibility that BYU could have extended their losing streak to 4 against USU. Instead, BYU came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and should walk away from this one feeling like they got some pep back in their step. Let’s get started.
-Nick Emery: The last game Nick Emery played in was on March 15, 2017 against UT Arlington. We don’t need to rehash Nick’s story here but needless to say he has gone through some ups and downs. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t the biggest Emery fan. I didn’t like what I perceived to be his bad attitude and was frustrated at times with his decisions. However, to see him bounce back after going through the worst time in his life (all of it being heavily publicized) I can’t help but cheer for him and find myself wanting to be his biggest fan because his story is something we can all relate to—we have all had to ask for second chances. I had no idea what to expect from Emery after not playing in a legit game in over year and a half. I CERTAINLY didn’t expect 11 points on 4-6 shooting (3-4 from deep), 2 steeas and 2 assists.
Emery was an instant injection of energy for BYU when he checked in. In less than two minutes Emery had a three, a steal, and an assist. The rest of the team seemed to feed off of his defensive energy. If Emery looks like this, I have a hard time seeing him come off the bench for very long. It was great to see someone be able to relieve the scoring pressue off of Yoeli and TJ. Emery offers so much for this offense, his ability to shoot, drive to the basket, pass the ball, and defend is something this team has desperately needed.
-Yoeli Childs: 31 points on 11-18 shooting (1-4 from deep), 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 5 steals is so dang impressive. The game plan for BYU continues to be simple. Give the ball to Yoeli in the low post and let him go to work. It seemed that Yoeli really favored getting the ball on the right side of the court, forcing his defender down to the block and then killing them with his step back fade away. USU had no answer for him. I was interested in USU’s decision to not double Yoeli on most of the possessions. Maybe the figured that they would let Yoeli get his and limit everyone else; didn’t really seem to work out for them.
-Connor Harding: 14 points on 5-6 shooting (2-3 from deep), 1 rebound and 1 assist in 21 minutes is extremely impressive for the freshman. There was a point in the second half where USU was starting to make a comeback and had come back to within 12. It was at this point that Dave threw out the lineup of Haws, Emery, Harding, Nixon and Childs. This might have been my favorite lineup I’ve seen all season and I wouldn’t hate it if it became the starting lineup.
-Shooting: HOLY $%&*!! BYU actually had a game where they shot the ball well! 55.9% from the field, 45.8% from three, and 85.7% was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen. It took 9 games but we finally saw how this team has the potential to be a good shooting team. Nothing would make me happier than to see BYU shot the ball like this on Saturday against Utah.
-Defense: BYU forced Utah State to have 16 turnovers, 11 of those were steals. BYU also had 4 blocks. It was nice to see them show some effort on the defensive end after watching that abomination against Weber State.
-There was a point in the second half where BYU had to inbound the ball with three seconds on the shot clock. I believe it was Emery that gave a perfect lob to Yoeli on the far post after everyone had cleared out and he kicked the ball out for a beautiful open look by Haws who drilled the three. You might be wondering why I am putting this fantastic play in the bad section. Well, my question is where the heck was that play at the end of the Illinois State game?! You can’t tell me that the best thing Dave could come up with in that moment was to let Haws dribble the ball around and force up a bad shot. It’s frustrating to think what could have been.
-Luke Worthington: I’m sorry, but has anyone taught Worthington how not to foul? 3 fouls in only 5 minutes was so frustrating to watch.
-Rebounding: Once again BYU got killed on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 34-24. BYU gave up 13 offensive rebounds. I am pretty sure that 5 of those offensive rebounds came on one possession. Dave’s remedy to the lack of rebounding seems to be to tell his players to rebound or else. Maybe instead of only telling the players over and over again to rebound, he should show them this video:
It was nice to see BYU finally get back into the win column after that frustrating 3 game skid. Hopefully they can ride this energy into Salt Lake on Saturday when they face a struggling Utah team.
On to Utah.