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Utah Valley beats BYU for the first time ever in men's basketball, 114-101

PROVO — According to Utah Valley coach Mark Pope, the feeling that his team might shock the world and take down BYU at the Marriott Center hit his team, in earnest, with about eight minutes left in the second half. UVU's Jordan Poydras had just hit a 3-pointer, putting the Wolverines up 85-73, adding to the gloom over the home Marriott Center crowd while sending the UVU bench to their feet.

From there, the Wolverines cruised, taking a shocking 114-101 win over the Cougars on Saturday, in a moment that won't soon be forgotten by the program.

“The last eight minutes our guys got a glimpse of the fact that we had a chance to maybe win the game and every single timeout after we talked about how we never want this night to end,” Pope said of his team's final stretch. “We were like, ‘Please don’t let this clock run out.’ We want to keep playing because you don’t get this night every game.”

The Wolverines' night involved a 3-point shooting clinic, where they hit eight of their first nine attempts and ultimately finished going 18-36 from behind the arc, setting a Marriott Center record in the process. Leading the way individually was BYU transfer Isaac Nielson, who scored a team-high 26 points, and Brandon Randolph, who added 21 points and a game-high 14 assists.

“This means a lot to me. It means a lot to our team,” Nielson said to the media crowd outside of the locker room. “Our whole mantra for this team is, ‘Shock the world,’ and I think we did that tonight. … It’s just amazing. I can’t describe this feeling. I can’t describe it.”

BYU took an early 16-11 lead on the evening before UVU answered with five straight 3-point buckets, earning itself a 26-16 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining. The Wolverines maintained a good lead up until the end of the half when the Cougars took the lead at 52-51 after a put-back basket from Braiden Shaw to cap off a 9-0 scoring run.

But before the home crowd could settle in, feeling their team would maintain control, Randolph banked in a running 3-pointer about 40 feet from the basket to snare back the lead at 54-52, along with a lot of the Cougars' momentum entering the break.

“It gave us momentum,” Randolph said of the shot. “I turned over the ball two times (right before), so I just wanted to make up those two turnovers for my team. I let my team down those two times, so I just wanted to get a decent shot up at the half. It wasn’t a decent one, it was a lucky one, but thank God it went in.”

BYU tied things at 54-54 shortly after the half, but UVU answered immediately, slowly building the lead back up and leading to the eight-minute mark Pope and his players will likely remember for a long time.

As for the Cougars, it's a game they'd rather forget but will hope to use for some improvements moving forward — particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

“We played embarrassing(ly.) Our defensive, overall — embarrassing. I have nothing else to say,” said BYU sophomore Nick Emery.

But Emery did say more, when pressed, adding to his already blunt assessment.

“We’re a bunch of wusses out there right now, and that’s not how you’re going to win games,” Emery said, specifically of the team's defensive effort. “We can’t put this BYU jersey on and win games, just because we’re BYU. It takes a lot more than that, but we’ll move on. We’ll get better.”

Emery finished with a team-high 37 points, while adding four assists, but also seven turnovers. Eric Mika added 22 with Kyle Davis chipping in 11.

As for the Wolverines, despite Saturday's great moment, they believe firmly that their best days are ahead.

“This is a great win for us — it’s a great night — but we have so much growing to do,” Pope said. “This won’t be the best moment that we’ve had at Utah Valley. We still have so much work we have to do, and we can become such a better team. But this is a really special night for us, and we’re grateful to have been able to play the game.”