The Utah Valley men’s basketball team defeated the Brigham Young University Cougars 75-60 in Provo on Wednesday. The Wolverines pick up back-to-back wins against the Cougars for the first time in program history and just their second win all-time at the Marriott Center.
“I can’t say enough about the players in this program,” said head coach Mark Madsen. “Everyone that went on the court contributed in a huge way.”
Justin Harmon and Aziz Bandaogo led the way for the Wolverines, as Harmon put up 19 points and three assists and Bandago recorded 14 points and seven rebounds. Former Cougar Blaze Nield also reached double-figures, including two huge three-pointers down the stretch to help put this game out of reach. UVU shot 52% from the floor as a team and 45.5% from beyond the arc, while holding BYU to just 34.6% shooting and a frigid 9% from three-point land. Defense was huge in this matchup, as the Wolverines forced nine second-half turnovers to flip the script and rally from an 11 point deficit to win the game convincingly.
The teams started things out by trading blows early and were red hot, both shooting above 70% from the field in the opening five minutes of play. Things quickly leveled off, however, and the Cougars took advantage of a 2:24 Wolverine scoring drought to claim a 25-14 lead. The Wolverines, behind Bandaogo, managed to cut the lead down to just two, eventually going into the halftime break trailing 38-34. Just before the buzzer, Cam Alford hit an miraculous acrobatic buzzer beater tha bounced in off the glass. Bandaogo showed off the range in the first half, going 2-2 from beyond the arc. Although trailing, the Wolverines were shooting it well, netting 52.2% field goal percentage and 45.8% from three in the period. Bandaogo had 10 points and Harmon had nine points heading into the break.
In the second half, both teams continued to battle and the two teams were tied at 45 with 13 minutes remaining. The Wolverines, continuing to shoot the ball well, found their spark behind Nield and Tahj Small with 11:43 remaining. Small nailed a pull-up jumper, igniting a 9-0 run for the Wolverines, who claimed a 55-45 lead. In the midst of a 4-0 BYU run and attempt to battle back, Nield hit a huge three-point jumper to put the Wolverines back up by nine. The next play, Trey Woodbury pushed the ball ahead to Small, who threw down a vicious dunk. With 4:10 remaining, Nield hit another three-pointer to push the lead back to double-digits, permanently icing the game and putting away his former team.
“I started my career here, I was working, learned alot, put a lot of blood sweat and tears here on this court. To come back and have the performance we did tonight was something super special for me,” said Nield.
The Wolverines move to 5-4 on the season and next travel to Flagstaff, Arizona for a rematch against Northern Arizona University on Dec. 10. The game tips off at 2 p.m. MT and can be streamed on ESPN+.
Sports Editor and Senior Staff Writer
Senior at Utah Valley University majoring in applied communications.