It was a basketball flex by BYU, Utah State and Utah to set up the weekend.
Call it Thursday Night Fights, TKOs all around.
The Aggies extended a nine-game win streak by beating league favorite San Diego State in Logan by 12.
Utah pulled itself out of the doldrums by whipping Stanford in the Huntsman Center. And it was a whipping.
BYU excised old demons by finding a way to win at Saint Mary’s, where it had lost all kinds of games to the Gaels the last six times they played there. This time, BYU held SMC scoreless for 10 minutes to end the game.
It’s fun to rank which win was more impressive because they all had their moment. The Utes really, really needed some daylight, something to feel good about of significance.
Utah really, really needed a win after enduring a four-game losing streak. It was woe and low this past week in the lead-up to the Utes beating Stanford in blowout style with Timmy Allen scoring 22.
If, indeed, this win is a turning point for the Utes, then this could register as a tremendous steppingstone for Utah’s struggling team, building confidence for Cal on Saturday and Pac-12 play in general as a 5-5 team.
I try to tell myself I don't care about basketball anymore, but when the Utes play like they did today, It's a good time.— SLC Ute in Alaska 🇺🇦💪🏼 (@SLC_Ute) January 15, 2021
In Logan, you have to credit Craig Smith for injecting a gritty mindset into the Aggies. The 57-45 win over previously ranked San Diego State makes you wonder what prognosticators were thinking picking the Aztecs as a powerhouse of some kind in the West.
Utah State’s defense smothered SDSU. It is no fluke that Smith has the Aggies 7-0 in Mountain West play, and looking all the part of the leader to challenge talented Boise State for the title.
But you’ve got to appreciate that BYU win at Saint Mary’s, a place the Cougars have died what seems like a thousand deaths the past half dozen trips. The Cougars have had some pretty good basketball teams go into SMC and come out spanked, usually in a close knife fight.
BYU finished its 62-52 win over Randy Bennett’s team on a 19-2 run.
That, folks, is almost impossible to do.
Bennett likes to run the clock, hog the ball, and he runs so many picks and screens with his offense, he can create a layup for a handcuffed kangaroo about any time he wants.
BYU has lost a total of three games; the three teams to defeat BYU have a combined record of 35-3 (USC 10-2, Boise State 12-1, Gonzaga 13-0).— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) January 15, 2021
Pope had a strategy to attack the paint and saw Brandon Averette, Caleb Lohner and Gideon George — a trio that had never played at Saint Mary’s — come through with huge rebounds, defense and buckets down the wire. Come to think of it, center Matt Haarms and a few others had never played there either. Didn’t matter.
Winning by 10 against a Bennett-coached team is like a 20-pointer.
Give Utah State and Smith high marks for its defense, grit and style points in whipping the Aztecs. It was a signature game that will count big time come tournament time.
Give BYU and Pope some love for accomplishing something unique and meaningful in its first win in league play while on the road during a COVID-19 mess.
Give the Utes heart points for gutting it up at a time they could have packed it in and not cared a bit after some disappointing outcomes.
In one word sums:
For BYU: Moxie.
For the rest of us?
Hungry are we for good news. Check that, starved.
We deserved to see some wins.
They all did.