Men’s basketball: UVU offense stalls in loss to BYU

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Photo by Mykah Heaton

One year after UVU marched into the Marriott Center and set offensive records with the first win in program history over BYU, the Cougars returned the favor Wednesday night in the sold-out UCCU Center. The fourth installment of the matchup dubbed the Crosstown Clash ended in the third Cougar victory as BYU (5-2) stifled the offense of UVU (4-3) on the way to a dominant 85-58 victory.

“BYU just crushed us. They out-coached us by far. Their players out-executed us and out-toughed us,” said UVU head coach Mark Pope. “Not just in physical toughness, which was a huge component of the game, but also in discipline and how they played.”

The Wolverines’ record-setting 18-of-37 shooting night from 3-point range last year must have been a vivid memory for BYU Wednesday because the Cougars did everything they could to run UVU off the 3-point line. The Wolverines got only eight shots off from beyond the arc in this game, with the only 3-point make coming from Brandon Randolph just 93 seconds into the game. On the other end, the Cougars scorched their net, shooting 12-of-26 from long range for an eye-popping 46 percent.

Live ball turnovers continued to plague the Wolverine offense, a theme of the season so far. 17 UVU turnovers turned into 20 BYU points. To make matters worse, the Wolverines had only six assists on the night, while the Cougars assisted on 25 of their 30 baskets.

“One of the things that I’ve always been really pleased about is we’ve always been a really good assist-to-turnover ratio team,” said Pope. “But we’ve kind of been upside-down I think more games this year than not.”

“We had too many turnovers. We weren’t making plays for each other and we were all trying to fix it on our own,” Jake Toolson said. “But we’ve got to stay together as a team. That’s when we’re good.”

BYU also won the rebounding battle 33-24. Yoeli Childs was a problem for UVU on the glass and everywhere else on the court, stuffing the stat sheet with 24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. TJ Haws was the only other Cougar in double digits with 11.

Not only did the Cougars prevent UVU from shooting the three, they also did well neutralizing Akolda Manyang, who had gotten off to a great start this season. Manyang finished with 11 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Randolph led the team in scoring with 16, while Toolson pitched in 14.

Nevertheless, this game was not without value for the Wolverines this early in the season. Pope said that the schedule was designed to see what the team can grow into by the end of the season. In order to get the experience of getting back up, he said, you have to be knocked down, and these experiences will come in handy come tournament time when UVU has to stack wins.

“This is going to be a key point in what we become by the end of the season. It is,” he said.

“Our goal is to win the WAC. As big of a game as this is, we’re not going to win the WAC by winning this game,” said Toolson. “So this game is going to help us be tougher and learn and grow. That’s what this is about.”