A huge weekend for Utah County as BYU and UVU face off in basketball
Kyle McDonald | Sports editor | @kylesportsbias
On Friday November 13, the Utah Valley University men’s and women’s basketball teams will invade the Marriott Center to take on cross-county foe BYU in what is being called the University Parkway series. It is the season opener for both teams and it is part of the biggest sports weekend in UVU athletics history.
“They are really good,” UVU men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope said. “They might have a better team right now than they have had in the last five or six years. But we’re trying to win.”
The UVU men are coming off a 97-52 win in their exhibition game against Western State that saw senior Jaden Jackson score 25 points in just 22 minutes of play. The Wolverines will need to see that kind of scoring from Jackson on Friday night if they hope to keep up with the Cougars. They will also be relying on another senior guard Marcel Davis, who had 14 points, five assists, and five rebounds in the exhibition win.
“We were picked to take sixth in the conference so we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Davis said. “We are excited and it is a great opportunity.”
BYU is led by senior guards Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer. Collinsworth is looking to break the all-time triple double record in college basketball and Fischer is lights out from behind the 3-point line. Fischer is excited about facing his old coach and knows that it will be a fun night.
“I think that can be a little emotional for some guys,” Fischer said. “Especially for me because coach Pope recruited me at Wake Forest and he got me out here. But we’re going to treat it like another game. It will be fun.”
The UVU and BYU women’s team will start off the evening as tipoff for their contest starts at 3 p.m. MT. There are many storylines in this game as well. UVU head coach Cathy Nixon played and coached at BYU before coming to UVU 25 years ago. BYU assistant Dan Neilson started at UVU before moving over to coach Jeff Judkins staff at BYU and Liz Darger is a former UVU assistant before becoming an Associate Athletic Director at BYU.
“BYU is a really good team,” Nixon said. “They’ve had a lot of success in the last couple of years so it will be a good test for us. I spent seven years at BYU but I’m a Wolverine through and through. I have a lot of respect for the program at BYU and I have a lot of friends over there. But come Friday it won’t be difficult for me to compete.”
BYU head coach Jeff Judkins knows that his team needs to be ready to play because he understands what this game means for UVU.
“We are looking forward to it because it is a fun game to play,” Judkins said. “We are excited about the double header. It is a good day for both the men and women that we are playing the same school and we got a lot of connections at the schools. I’ve told my girls this whole week that this is the Super Bowl to them. Some of the girls that Cathy has wanted to come to BYU so they’re going to want to come in and prove that I made a mistake.”
Judkins hopes that first team All-WCC guard Lexi Eaton Rydalch can continue her stellar play and that All-American junior college transfer Kalani Purcell can do some damage on Friday night. Purcell and UVU’s Rhaiah Spooner-Knight are both from New Zealand and have played together and against each other. Spooner-Knight is excited for the matchup.
“I’m super excited,” Spooner-Knight said. “I’ve wanted to play BYU since my freshman year since we are only down the road so I’m super amped up that I get to play against her (Purcell) and that it’s BYU.”
It is an exciting weekend for both schools as they will not only face off in the basketball games on Friday night but their women’s soccer teams face off in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday afternoon at South Field. But for UVU head coach Mark Pope it is all about Friday the 13th.
“It’s Friday the 13th,” Pope said. “Anything can happen on Friday the 13th.”
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