PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU tuned up for its showdown against Utah State with a dominating performance against Nevada.
A balanced offensive attack and stellar team defense led the Cougars to a 75-42 victory at the Marriott Center on Tuesday.
The Cougars held Nevada to just 25 percent shooting from the field and three made three-pointers. The 42 points are the fewest allowed by BYU this season.
“It just proves to us that we can win games different ways,” said Jake Toolson, who led BYU with 15 points. “We don’t have to make shots every night to win games. We can win games on the defensive side of the ball. You can’t control the shots that you make. They’re gonna go in and you’re gonna miss some but you can always control your effort defensively. I think this game proves to us that if we’re locked in defensively that we give ourselves a chance to win every game.”
Five Cougars scored in double figures, including Toolson, Yoeli Childs (14), Alex Barcello (13), TJ Haws (11) and Connor Harding (10). Childs, who scores all of his points in the second half, also recorded his second-straight double-double, pulling down 13 rebounds. Toolson also had seven boards and dished six assists to lead the team.
“I am really proud of our guys tonight,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. ” This Nevada team has been one of the scariest offensive teams that we have prepared for. Our guys were really locked in and they managed the defensive end really well and we managed some frustration on the offensive end really well and that’s a huge skill. Huge win for us and it is really important. I am really proud of our guys and ready for the next one.”
Barcello splashed a 3 from the corner to give the Cougars their first points of the game, quickly followed by a TJ Haws midrange jumper. Nevada responded with two buckets to tie the score at 5-5.
Haws drained a deep 3 to give BYU the lead 8-5. The Cougar defense was effective to hold the Wolf Pack to just 2 of 8 from the field in the early part of the half. Harding quickly dropped five points in a row, sinking a 3 and a quick two close to the basket to bring the lead to 16-7.
Two more Haws 3-point shots gave him a 3 of 4 start to the game from deep. Barcello got the line and went 2-2 from the charity stripe, pushing the BYU lead to double digits for the first time at 24-13.
Toolson took over in the last five minutes, making two 3-point shots and dishing an assist to Harding. Kolby Lee made a contested basket over two Wolfpack defenders to bring the Cougars to a 34-20 halftime lead.
BYU shot 32.7 percent on 12 of 27 shooting in the first half but made 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Cougars also out-rebounded Nevada 17-13 in the first period, grabbing six offensive rebounds to the visitors’ 0.
The Cougars started the second half on a 9-0 run, behind a 3-pointer from Toolson and six-straight points from Childs. Childs was excellent near the rim as he made a contested layup, two free-throws and a hook shot. Barcello dished an assist to Dalton Nixon in transition who slashed to the hoop for two.
Nixon struck again at the rim, extending the BYU lead to 49-26. Barcello continued the BYU attack at the rim and crossed over a defender on the way to the rack to sink another layup for the Cougars.
A couple of tightly contested baskets from Nixon and Barcello kept the game going BYU’s way. Barcello finished a tough and-one play and dropped a 3 after a Childs block, continuing the Cougars’ hot second-half shooting streak.
BYU (8-4) next takes on Utah State (10-1) Saturday in the Beehive Classic at Vivint Smart Home Arena at 6:00 p.m.