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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

BYU defense, game plan stymies Utah Valley in home loss

By Kyle McDonald, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Nov 29th, 2017 @ 11:42pm


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OREM — In the 2016 matchup between crosstown foes BYU and Utah Valley, the Wolverines hit 18 3-pointers and scored 60 second-half points to win 114-101.

On Wednesday night in the UCCU Center, BYU made sure that didn't happen again.

The Cougars held UVU to 58 points and allowed just eight 3-point attempts in an 85-58 rout of the Wolverines in front of a sellout crowd on the Utah Valley University campus.

"Much better defensively," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "The 3-point line was a real issue for us in last year's game. They shot 37 3-pointers last year and shot eight tonight, so that's probably the biggest difference."

The lone UVU 3-pointer came at the 18:27 mark of the first half when Brandon Randolph gave the Wolverines a 5-4 lead. From then on, UVU (4-3) had trouble creating shots. In fact, the first 3-point attempt of the second half came with 5:06 remaining in the game.

The Wolverines finished the game 1-of-8 (12.5 percent) from beyond the arc while BYU finished 12-of-26 from downtown in the blowout win.

BYU (5-2) also forced 17 turnovers that led to 20 points. Yoeli Childs, Luke Worthington and Dalton Nixon combined to hold UVU's leading scorer, Akolda Manyang, to just 11 points. The transfer from Oklahoma was averaging 17 points and nine rebounds coming into Wednesday night.

The trio also forced Manyang to pick up his second foul early in the first half, which gave Childs and the Cougars more opportunities at the rim, according to Rose.

Utah Valley Wolverines center Akolda Manyang (0) goes to work on Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) as UVU and BYU play a College basketball game in the UCCU center at UVU in Orem Utah on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. BYU won 85-58. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

"Isaac (Neilson) is still really big," Rose said. "He's just as quick off the floor. But we were shooting the ball pretty well from the perimeter. They're so good in the pick-and-roll at the high post and rolling him to the basket. And having him off the floor for all those minutes, I think, confused him a little bit and I think it helped us."

Neilson, a former Cougar, had a rough night, finishing with two points and three rebounds. Neilson had 26 points and nine rebounds in the 2016 win.

"They (BYU) had to hear about it every single day, from every single person, for 365 days," UVU head coach Mark Pope said. "Now, we're going to have to hear about this. Even going through the line, just looking at the guys, I wanted to throw up."

The Cougars also executed on the offensive end as they had 25 assists on 30 made baskets. Weber State transfer McKay Cannon, who just became eligible to play prior to the game, led BYU with six assists off the bench.

Making the extra pass to find the open man led to the Cougars shooting 53.6 percent (30-of-56) from the field, including 12-of-26 from beyond the arc.

BYU now leads the all-time series with UVU 3-1, and the two teams will meet once more in the Marriott Center in 2018.

"I hope everybody keeps playing," Rose said. "Because it's good for basketball in the state of Utah. Even non-Utah Valley fans and non-BYU fans are interested in this game, and that's the same with the rest of the in-state games."

BYU travels to Logan to take on in-state rival Utah State in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday night while UVU hosts UT-San Antonio on Saturday night in the UCCU Center.


Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

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