BYU’s Kolby Lee enjoys career night, perfect shooting performance in 93-70 rout of San Diego
While Yoeli Childs, the Cougars’ leading scorer and rebounder, is sidelined with an injured finger, sophomore forward Kolby Lee is filling in admirably and Thursday night against San Diego, he played perfectly — at least offensively.
PROVO — Move over, Yoeli Childs, there’s another big man on BYU’s campus.
While Childs, the Cougars’ leading scorer and rebounder, is sidelined with an injured finger, sophomore forward Kolby Lee is filling in admirably and Thursday night against San Diego, he played perfectly — at least offensively.
The quick-trigger Lee made 8 of 8 shots from the field and poured in a career-high 21 points in BYU’s 93-70 victory over the Toreros at the Marriott Center.
At one point, fans started chanting, “Kol-by!” and “MVP!”
Even coach Mark Pope entered the post-game interview room with, “Kol-by! Kol-by! Kol-by! How about that? You didn’t think that was going to happen, did you? Five thousand BYU students chanting ‘Kol-by!’”
The guy they call “Big Idaho” (Lee hails from Meridian) also grabbed five rebounds. He’s also known as the “Quickie Monster” because of the fast release on his shot.
“It’s called a ‘quick’ because I get it out of my hands so fast. It looks like a floater,” Lee said. “It’s a big thing (assistant coach Chris) Burgess taught me. That’s what he calls it, a ‘quick.’ … It’s impossible to guard. You can ask Yoeli. He gets really mad because I get it out of my hands so fast, you can’t block it.”
“Right now, him not dunking the ball is just as terrifying as these guys dunking the ball because you cannot recover,” Pope said about Lee. “If you aren’t there on the catch, he’s going to finish. It’s a great skill.”
Lee enjoyed the night, but he kind of shrugged it off.
“Honestly, aside from the fans cheering, it felt like another normal game to me,” he said. “My teammates believe in me and I was able to make shots.”
Lee’s 8 of 8 performance ties for the third-most made shots without a miss in school history. His final bucket came on a 3-pointer.
For the second straight game, six Cougars scored in double figures, including Lee, TJ Haws (19), Jake Toolson (14), Dalton Nixon (12), Alex Barcello (11) and Connor Harding (11).
Still, things didn’t start too well for BYU.
BYU trailed by as many as eight in the first half (19-11), but the Cougars took a 48-36 lead at halftime thanks to a 14-2 run to end the half. BYU started the second half on a 10-3 spurt to go up 58-39 after a hook shot by Lee.
“Tonight we didn’t spend much time in frustration,” Pope said. “We kind of took a direct route from not playing great, skipped over the frustration and got to the anger and the fight of the game. These guys had great fight the second 10 minutes of the first half and carried it through the game.”
The Cougars missed their first five 3-pointers of the game but ended up knocking down 11 of 22 from distance. BYU also outscored the Toreros 42-14 in the paint and scored 23 points off of 17 USD turnovers.
The Cougars improved to 14-5 overall and 3-1 in WCC play, while San Diego dropped to 7-13 and 0-5.
BYU also avenged last year’s humiliating loss to San Diego in the West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals in Las Vegas.
“That was embarrassing,” Harding recalled.
But what Harding saw from Lee Thursday is something he sees every day in practice.
“It’s nothing new to me. It doesn’t surprise me that he just went off,” he said. “Ever since growing up, he’s had nice touch around the rim. It doesn’t surprise me it goes in every single time.”
Lee was caught off guard by the adoration from the crowd Thursday night.
“I don’t know what that’s all about. We’ve got better players on the team than me,” he said. “That was kind of cool. But it’s not about me, it’s about this team. The only thing we look forward to is winning.”
“It’s really, really fun to watch these guys grow in all different ways,” Pope said. “And Kolby was super fun tonight because he’s growing before our eyes.”
Pope recalled late in the game Lee taking a pass and immediately scoring a bucket.
“If there wasn’t a better moment in this game,” he said. “His feet did not leave the ground and then he jogged back on defense. He’s been spectacular.”
BYU visits No. 1 Gonzaga Saturday.
TIP-INS: Guard Trevin Knell sustained a thumb injury in shootaround Wednesday and was not available to play. He’ll be sidelined about three weeks. … WCC Commissioner Gloria Nevarez attended Thursday’s game. … Haws started his 120th consecutive game, the second-longest streak in school history. Jeff Chatman holds the record at 122 games. … Toolson has 15 assists and zero turnovers in the last two games.