PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Coming off a 30-point drubbing by #4 Gonzaga, BYU needed a spark Saturday night, and freshman Gavin Baxter provided it.
Baxter went off for a career-high 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds, as the Cougars used a dominant second half to pull away from Loyola Marymount, 67-49.
“First career start and I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Baxter said. “It was a lot of hard work that paid off. Growing up here in Provo, I always wanted to play at BYU. To get my first career start and have a night like tonight with all the fans was incredible. I don’t think I could have imagined it to be any better.”
Baxter recorded his first double-double of the season, while Nick Emery had his best game in almost two years, with 17 points while making all five of his 3-pointers.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” head coach Dave Rose said. “Their pace in the first half affected us. Then we found a way to really get the game going the way we needed it to but not in our normal fashion. It’s a positive sign that our best basketball is still ahead of us. I’m proud of Gavin and happy for Nick and our whole team that competed at a really high level in the second half. We got Thursday night behind us and got on to what was next.”
McKay Cannon led all players in assists as he dished out seven for BYU. Childs recorded nine rebounds and two steals for the Cougars.
On a night when leading scorer Yoeli Childs scored a season-low six points, and TJ Haws struggled with just 9 points, the Cougars needed their other players to step up.
After a slow first half in which BYU scored just 23 points, the Cougars outscored the Lions in the second half, 44-23 to pull away for the victory.
The BYU defense held LMU to just 39 percent shooting for the game.
BYU improves to 14-10 overall, 6-3 in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars next hit the road to play at Portland on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m.