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BYU basketball: Chase Fischer leads Cougars over Utah State 80-68

PROVO — After incurring some early season bumps, the BYU men's basketball appears to be rounding into form and hitting a good stride, evidenced by a 80-68 win Wednesday over Utah State. The Cougars used a good surge to end the first half to build a big lead and then coasted toward the finish line in the second.

Leading the way was Chase Fischer, who led all scorers with 24 points. The senior guard provided further evidence that he's over his early-season slump and is poised to provide consistent contributions for the rest of the year.

“I think he’s just really settled in with how he can help our team,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “I see him a lot more determined, more focused and I think he understands how important he is to our team.”

For Fischer, he believes his offensive resurgence goes hand in hand with a better effort on the defensive end.

"I think it’s just defensively I’m getting more active and it kind of gets my body going,” said Fischer, who added three steals. “I’m a very emotional player, I talk a lot. So, for me, I think when I get in passing lanes a little bit, get some defensive rebounds ... I think that really fuels my offense.”

What fueled Fischer on Wednesday seemed to fuel the entire team.

BYU's defense played aggressively, particularly during the final stretch of the first half, which led to easy shots and big leads, including the 39-24 edge at the break.

“I thought we were really good the last eight minutes of the first half and in the middle eight minutes of the second half,” Rose said. “I think it’s just the concentration of everybody just buckling down and being responsible for their assignments.”

For the game the Cougars blocked eight shots, showing active defense in the post, but also in the perimeter. The result was a 35.4 percent shooting percentage for the Aggies.

“I thought we were really active and challenged passes on the catch,” Rose said. “We were good in help as far as attacking penetration and contesting shots. But then we rebounded the ball really well. We didn’t give them a lot of second shots.”

Highlighting the defensive effort, and proving active and even dominant at times in the post, was former Utah State Aggie Kyle Davis. The junior forward had 14 points and collected 14 rebounds along with two blocked shots.

Sophomore forward Corbin Kaufusi paired nicely with Davis inside, scoring 10 points while blocking two shots.

“The defense this year has been a lot better. We definitely have a lot more guys buying in,” Fischer said. “I think the personnel is a lot better because Kyle (Davis) is a big dude. Kyle Collinsworth is a 6-(foot)-6 point guard and then Corbin (Kaufusi) in the middle. I think we’re really big…and I think we had a great defensive performance tonight.”

Also contributing heavily was freshman Nick Emery, who returned from his one-game suspension to contribute 17 points off the bench and energize the team on both ends.

“Nick is a great guy and we’re just excited that he’s back,” Davis said. “He brings so much energy, he plays so hard. You can just see it watching him. He puts everything into the games and he’s the same at practice. We’re grateful he’s back.”

The Aggies were led by Jalen Moore, who scored a team-high 15 points, and Shane Rector and Chris Smith, who each added 12.

The Cougars, who improve to 6-2 with the win, will now hit the road this Saturday with a game at Colorado.

The Aggies drop to 5-2 with the loss and will next take on UC Irvine at home this Saturday.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney