UVU set new school records in its victory over BYU as the Cougars’ struggles continue
BYU returned to the Marriott Center for its first home game in two and a half weeks, but lost to UVU for a second straight year.
BYU returned to the Marriott Center for its first home game in two and a half weeks Wednesday evening, but lost to UVU for a second straight year; this time 75-60. It marked the Wolverines largest margin of victory over the Cougars all time.
UVU dominated the game after the break, erasing a halftime deficit with ease and outscoring BYU 41-22 in the second half.
“Congrats to UVU, they played a great game,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “We’re still working really hard to kind of find ourselves right now. There’s a lot of things that we’re not doing great right now. We know we’re not playing very well right now. The guys are super committed to trying to get better.”
BYU was eager to get better coming into its game against UVU, after suffering a disappointing defeat Saturday versus South Dakota. Despite scoring 20 more points than the Coyotes in the final 10 minutes that afternoon, the Cougars’ furious second half comeback fell short by one point.
Wednesday’s loss was more of the same, bringing additional disappointment to BYU. It marked the first time the Cougars have lost to the Wolverines in consecutive seasons.
“I can’t say enough about the players in this program,” UVU coach Mark Madsen said when asked about beating BYU twice in a row. “I could go down the list. … Everybody that played was phenomenal.”
When UVU defeated a ranked BYU squad in Orem a year ago, it handed the Provo-based school its first loss of the season. That evening saw the Wolverines lead for less than a minute of regulation before controlling overtime and securing their second ever victory over the Cougars.
Unlike a year ago, both teams got off to quick starts Wednesday. UVU started the contest with three made 3s in the first 2:37. BYU got its initial eight points from Fousseyni Traore in just 3:22. The Cougars headed into the break holding a 38-34 edge.
BYU’s halftime lead was short lived.
The Cougars and Wolverines went back and forth in the second half, before UVU took the lead for good with 12:24 to go. The Wolverines grew their advantage from there, stretching it to as many as 16 points.
Madsen, who improved to 2-1 against the Cougars, was well aware of BYU’s never-say-die attitude and made sure his team stayed focused down the stretch.
“That was one of the biggest things,” Madsen said. “BYU has an excellent full court press. Their zone is awesome. We hit a couple shots against it, but their zone defense is awesome. It’s one of the best zone defenses in the country when you look at the points per possession allowed. And so that was an emphasis point to try to figure out ways to attack that.”
The Wolverines did a great job executing their game plan, leaving the Cougars with more questions to be answered.
“We’re trying different things right now,” Pope said. “The more things we try in this time … we’re gaining experience. We’re exposing ourselves to different things and trying to find the things that’ll work the best. But you know, clearly, we’re searching right now.”
One change Pope tried was adjusting his team’s starting lineup. Freshmen Richie Saunders and Dallin Hall got the first starts of their college careers. However, it did not end how they would have wanted.
For the third time this season Traore led the Cougars in scoring, giving BYU 18 points to go along with seven rebounds.
UVU had three players finish in double figures, Justin Harmon leading the way with 19. Aziz Bandaogo added 14 and former Cougar Blaze Nield chipped in 10.
The win gives UVU a 5-4 record and its first road victory of the year. BYU drops to 5-5 and fell in Provo for the first time this season.
The Wolverines will look to win a third consecutive game when they travels to play Northern Arizona this weekend. The matchup will be the second time the two schools have met this year, after UVU earned a four point victory at home against the Lumberjacks in their initial meeting.
BYU faces a stiff challenge Saturday when it plays its second ranked opponent of the season in a neutral contest against No. 21 Creighton in Las Vegas.