‘He’s a massive piece of this team’: BYU forward Dalton Nixon’s status uncertain after ankle injury as Cougars visit San Diego
In the second half at Loyola Marymount Thursday night, senior forward Dalton Nixon crashed into the stanchion under the basket and fell awkwardly, hurting his ankle. Nixon got up quickly but it was apparent he was in pain as he hobbled around on the court.
SAN DIEGO — Nobody said getting back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years would be easy.
Then in the second half at Loyola Marymount Thursday night, senior forward Dalton Nixon crashed into the stanchion under the basket and fell awkwardly, hurting his ankle.
Nixon got up quickly but it was apparent that he was in pain as he hobbled around on the court.
“He’s a massive piece of this team. We have to have him.” — BYU coach Mark Pope, on Dalton Nixon
What’s his status going into Saturday’s game (8 p.m., MST, CBSSN) at San Diego?
Nixon is averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds this season. But his value to BYU goes far beyond the numbers. Nixon is a team leader and provides a strong defensive presence. He’s always willing to crash the boards, take charges and dive on the floor for loose balls.
“He’s a massive piece of this team. We have to have him,” Pope said. “Hopefully, our doctors will work their magic and we can have him back. I know he’s as tough as nails. So if he can get back, he’ll get back. He’s a crucial part of this team.”
Alex Barcello, who scored a career-high 18 points on 6 of 8 3-pointers against LMU, was concerned when he saw Nixon’s injury.
“I was scared at first but that’s Dalton. He popped back up. I told him he’s a dog. He’s a guy you want on your team. Guys love to play with him because he has that mentality every single game,” Barcello said. “Nothing’s going to bring him down. He keeps going. That’s one of the things that makes this team so great. We have not only him but other guys with that mentality that keeps us going.”
The Cougars are coming off a record-breaking performance at Loyola Marymount as they knocked down a program-high 18 3-pointers. Thursday marked BYU’s 15th game this season with double-digit 3-pointers, extending the record for most games with double-digit 3s in a season in school history.
This season, BYU leads the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (42.6%).
And the Cougars are still projected as a No. 7 seed in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest NCAA Tournament projections.
While San Diego (9-18, 2-10) has struggled this season, BYU’s record at Jenny Craig Pavilion since joining the West Coast Conference is a mediocre 4-4.
BYU defeated the Toreros 93-70 on Jan. 16 in Provo. USD lost a 72-69 heartbreaker at Pepperdine Thursday night, when the Waves’ Colbey Ross drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“They’re really good at home,” Pope said of the Toreros. “We’ll regroup these guys and get ready to go battle as hard as we can again.”
Right after Thursday’s victory, the Cougars rode a bus to San Diego and spent Friday preparing for USD.
“This team has been so good at taking it one day at a time,” said guard TJ Haws. “We’re hyped about getting this win (against LMU). Now we’ve got to move on to our next game. It’s the most important game of our season so far.”
BYU (20-7, 9-3) at San Diego (9-18, 2-10)
Saturday, 8 p.m. MST
Jenny Craig Pavilion
TV: CBS SN
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM