Cougars, Utes open hoops season with wins

Photo courtesy BYU Athletics

BYU and Utah both officially opened their 2015-16 basketball campaigns Friday night with double-digit home wins. They both faced smaller in-state foes as well. Here’s a recap:

BYU 85, Utah Valley 54

Chase Fischer scored a game-high 20 points and Kyle Davis posted 17 points and 20 boards to lead BYU men’s basketball to an 85-54 win over Utah Valley in the season opener Friday night at the Marriott Center.

120px-BYUlogo“I think that just the whole atmosphere and gym tonight was tremendous for our home opener,” BYU basketball coach Dave Rose said. “We had a great crowd. I think we anticipated that there would be a lot of energy and excitement when we got started, and there was. It was a well-played game and a hard-fought game. I’m obviously happy about the win.”

Fischer shot 7 of 13 from the field and hit three 3s, while Davis set a school record for rebounds in a BYU season opener with 20. Triple-double threat Kyle Collinsworth had 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

AP Photo
AP Photo

BYU finished with a 40.5 percent shooting percentage, 28.0 percent from deep and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line. The Cougars held the Wolverines to 26.4 percent shooting from the field and 17.2 percent from three. BYU led UVU the entire game with their largest lead of 33 points coming with 2:30 left in the game, 85-52.

After a slow start, BYU began the game with a 4-0 run from Collinsworth and Davis. In the first seven minutes the Cougars would lead the Wolverines 12-2 with Fischer leading with six points and Davis with nine rebounds. The Cougars would continue to a 22-2 lead with 10 minutes to go in the half, keeping the Wolverines to only one basket and extending their run to 18-0.

UVU would finally score with 9:52 to go and bring the score to 22-5, but BYU wouldn’t let it slide. The Cougars returned with another Collinsworth basket, assisted by Davis. The Wolverines hit their first three, but the Cougars answered with a basket from Davis and then another bucket from Collinsworth to score bringing the Cougars on another 4-0 run.

The Cougars and Wolverines would go back in the forth in the next few minutes to bring the score to 32-16. A foul shot from UVU and an out of bounds ball would allow UVU to get within 13 at 32-19. With another 7-0 run the Cougars led the Wolverines 39-19 after baskets from Fischer, Davis and Collinsworth.

UVU ended BYU’s run with a 3-pointer, but Fischer and Corbin Kaufusi rallied back to put the Cougars up 43-22 with 1:42 to go in the half. In the last minute Nick Emery hit a three and UVU scored right before the buzzer to make the halftime score 46-26.

The Cougars hit the road on Monday, Nov. 16, for their first road game against Long Beach State in Long Beach, California. Tipoff will be at 10:45 p.m. PST and will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on Cougar IMG Sports Network.

Stats: BYU 85, UVU 54

No. 16 Utah 82, Southern Utah 71

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak summed up the narrow victory over Southern Utah in two words – eye-opening.

Expectations are high in Salt Lake City with the 16th-ranked Utes fresh off their run to the Sweet 16 in March and four starters back in the lineup. But little came easy Friday night against the underdog Thunderbirds.

utesJakob Poeltl scored a career-high 26 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots, leading Utah to an 82-71 victory against Southern Utah.

”They exposed us with a bunch of dribble-drive,” Krystkowiak said. ”They confused us in the first half, certainly. We were getting beat off of back cuts, getting beat off the dribble and some things that were out of character. Thank goodness for the big three, at least for tonight – 73 of our 82 points came from three guys.

”But that’s kind of the essence of the team. I reminded our guys that we’ve got to, with this schedule of five games in nine nights, we’re going to need everybody on different nights.”

The Utes came out stagnant against the Thunderbirds in the season opener for each school.

Utah trailed most of the first half while it struggled to defend the rim and couldn’t get shots to drop from the perimeter. A 10-0 run early in the second half gave the Utes a 48-38 lead that they clung to down the stretch.

Photo courtesy Utah Athletics
Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

Utah dominated inside with Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma, who finished with career highs in points (23) and rebounds (12). Senior Jordan Loveridge added 24 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers.

Southern Utah shot 50.0 percent from the field. Travon Langston and Trey Kennedy each had 13 points, and Race Parsons added 12. The Thunderbirds shot 10 for 19 from behind the arc.

The Utes had a 38-36 halftime lead despite a first half that was far from ideal. The defense gave up at least seven layups and the Thunderbirds shot 53.6 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from behind the arc.

Southern Utah just couldn’t physically match up with the Utes inside. Poeltl and Kuzma were a combined 11 for 11, but the guards were virtually invisible. Starters Brandon Taylorand Isaiah Wright were a combined 0 for 8 in the first 20 minutes, but did have five assists between them.

”They’re a great team, hats off to them and stuff like that, but we let one go,” Langston said. ”We just wanted to drive and kick it. That’s our game – wide-open 3s and wide-open layups. That’s what we try to do.”

Stats: Utah 82, SUU 71

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

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