The BYU Cougars used one of their best outside shooting performances of the season to come away with a 79-71 win over the Colorado Buffaloes at the Marriott Center on Saturday night.
The Cougars connected on 47.4 percent of their shots from beyond the arc (9 for 19), as they improved to 7-3 with their biggest win of the season.
Nick Emery led the way with 22 points, four rebounds and three steals, while Eric Mika managed 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
TJ Haws carried the Cougars' outside shooting as he converted of 4-of-5 3-point attempts on his way to 16 points. He added five rebounds four assists and two steals in one of his best showings in a Cougar uniform.
BYU also got a big effort from freshman Yoeli Childs who had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Derrick White and Xavier Johnson did most of the damage for the Buffaloes, who fell to 7-3 with the loss.
White finished with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor, including 3 for 6 from beyond the arc, while Johnson chipped in with 17 points and five rebounds.
Why the Cougars won
The Cougars turned up the defensive pressure in the second half as they forced the Buffaloes to shoot just 31 percent from the floor, including 23.1 percent from beyond the arc.
BYU also did a nice job on the offensive glass with 13 rebounds that turned into 14 second-chance points.
The turning point
With the Buffaloes holding a 61-58 lead midway through the second half, the Cougars went on an 11-2 run to push the game out of reach. Haws scored six of the 11 points with a 3-pointer to tie the game, followed by a 3-point play.
What it means
To make a push for the NCAA Tournament, teams need to show they can beat good teams in the non-conference, and the Cougars did that with the win over the Buffaloes. What bolsters the win even more is the fact that Colorado has already knocked off two ranked teams with wins over No. 22 Texas and No. 13 Xavier.
Steven Beo played more minutes against Colorado than he did in every other game combined. He played 21 minutes and totaled three points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Grading the performances
The Cougars made big shots, shared the basketball and worked hard on the defensive end of the floor in one of their most complete games of the season.
On the down side, they had 16 turnovers that led to 19 Colorado points. The Cougars also had one of their worst shooting nights from the foul line, missing 11 of 29 attempts.
The Buffaloes were able to stay close even though shots weren't dropping thanks to defensive pressure that led to some easy transition baskets.
Foul trouble also hurt as leading scorer Derrick White had to sit for an extended stretch in the second half.
In the end, you have to hit shots in a hostile environment to win, and they just didn't do that consistently enough to get a win.
Three telling stats
The Cougars held the lead for 35:29 to just 2:29 for the Buffaloes. The game was tied for the other 2:02.
After winning the rebounding battle 46-31, the Cougars are now 6-1 in games where they outrebound the opponent. They are 0-2 in games where they get beat on the boards.
The Cougars held the Buffaloes to just 24.1 percent from beyond the arc. They are now 7-0 on the season when holding the opponent to less than 38 percent from 3-point range.
The Cougars have a week off before they play Illinois on Saturday. The Fighting Illini are 8-3 on the season after rolling off four straight wins.
Players to watch are senior guard Malcolm Hill and sophomore forward Leron Black.
Hill is off to a terrific start, averaging 18.9 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting from distance while adding 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Black has also put up big scoring numbers with five straight games of 15 points or more, including a 21-point effort in a 92-73 win over Central Michigan.