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BYU basketball: Cougars battle to a 79-71 victory over Colorado

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Every guy who played gave supreme effort ... the effort of every guy that came in was tremendous for the whole game. – BYU coach Dave Rose

PROVO — BYU coach Dave Rose has wanted a more complete team effort during both halves, on both sides of the court, during games, and on Saturday he largely got his wish as the Cougars came away with a 79-71 win over Colorado at the Marriott Center.

The Cougars managed to start off strong and withstood some runs made by the Buffaloes to finish off a game that saw big contributions from both the front and back courts.

Nick Emery led the way for the Cougars, scoring a game-high 22 points, with TJ Haws coming alive for 16 points with 4-5 shooting from 3-point range.

"I felt like tonight was one of the best all-around performances of this group," said Rose. "Every guy who played gave supreme effort … the effort of every guy that came in was tremendous for the whole game. … I like the way it felt. It's something we've trying to find, and feel we found a lot of it tonight."

Inside it was again Eric Mika leading the way, albeit in a bit of a different manner. The 6-foot-10 big man struggled from the field, managing to put in just 3 of 11 attempts, but went 11-13 from the line and dished out six assists to go along with his seven rebounds.

Fellow big-man Yoeli Childs finished with the first double-double of his career, scoring 11 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.


🎥 highlights: @BYUbasketball defeats the Pac-12’s @CUBuffsMBB 79-71 at the Marriott Center, a nice resume win for the Cougars pic.twitter.com/vrRcMBxogI

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) December 11, 2016

Childs' biggest contributions perhaps came early, scoring eight of BYU's first 18 points to get the Cougars off to a quick 18-11 lead with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half.

"I'm excited for Yoeli," Rose said of Childs' early play and his play during the last two wins. "We've had to throw him in there, and now he's had two great back-to-back games. He's active. You can put him on different guys and mix up your defense, so it's really helped us."

Key to Childs' play was Mika garnering so much attention inside and responding with some key dishes out of the low post.

"He commands a lot of attention in the post and that helps so many other guys," Rose said of Mika. "Tonight he had a hard time with the contact and finishing. But the attention he took gave us a lot of opportunities in other areas."

The Cougars' biggest lead in the first half was at 21-13 before the Buffaloes started chipping away at the lead. Led by Derrick White's 16 first-half points, Colorado finally caught BYU at 38-38 before a bucket from Mika gave the Cougars a narrow 40-38 lead at the break.

The second half saw the Cougars extend their lead to 52-42 before Colorado started chipping away again, ultimately taking the lead at 62-61 with just under eight minutes remaining.

The Cougars then locked down on defense and put together an 8-0 run to take back the lead at 69-62 after a TJ Haws 3-point play with 5:45 left.

From there, the Cougars kept up the defensive pressure, holding off the Buffaloes for the big win.

A big key off the bench was seldom-used Steven Beo, who played a season-high 21 minutes while contributing three points, two assists and three rebounds. While his stats won't grab any headlines, the freshman provided solid defense and solid play throughout.

"Steven has stood out really well in practice," Rose said. "I think he would have emerged a lot sooner, but he hurt his thumb and had to sit out a week, or so, in practice, and that kind of slowed him down and set him back … but I thought he proved tonight that there's a lot that he can do to help our team."

With the win, BYU pushes its record to 7-3 and will now have a week off before traveling to Chicago to take on Illinois.