PROVO – Freshman Nick Emery’s 18 points and seven assists helped the BYU men’s basketball team put away a pesky Mississippi Valley State team 75-68 on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center.
“I’m glad we got the win,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “It’s pretty obvious that we are a work in progress, trying to find ourselves for a consistent 40 minutes. I thought we got off to a great start and played really well offensively and defensively. In the second half, they hit their first three shots. That’s where defensively we need to be a little better. We seemed to be a step slower the rest of the night, but we finished and won. We will come back in tomorrow and practice to get ready for (Saturday).”
Mississippi Valley State (0-5) surged in the second half and kept BYU’s (3-1) lead down to single digits, cutting it to as close as five points but the Cougars hung on down the stretch.
Emery led BYU with his 18 and added a career-best seven assists to go along with two rebounds and two steals. Kyle Davis added 13 points, seven rebounds and Kyle Collinsworth filled the stat sheet again with 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Corbin Kaufusi was BYU’s fourth double-digit scorer with 12 points and tied a career high with four blocks.
The Cougars shot 46.4 percent for the game and outrebounded the Delta Devils 41-31. Mississippi Valley committed six turnovers in the first seven minutes but only coughed up the ball four more times the rest of the way to stay in the game.
BYU started the game off hot, going 4 for 4 from the field including two triples from Chase Fischer and Nick Emery to take a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes. The Cougars pushed their lead to 22-5 over a four-minute scoreless stretch from the Delta Devils.
A quick 7-0 run from Mississippi Valley cut into the Cougar lead but a trey from Fischer and a layup after a steal by Collinsworth pushed the lead back to 28-12 inside of 10 minutes to go until halftime.
The Delta Devils cut the lead to single digits after an old-school 3-point play at the 5:41 mark trimmed the edge to 30-21. Zac Seljaas drilled a 3-pointer on the other end to make it an 11-point lead again.
BYU closed the half on a 9-3 run and took a 44-32 lead into the break. Emery led all scorers at halftime with 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting. He also added five assists. The Cougars had 12 assists on 15 made baskets.
After halftime, the Delta Devils came out ready to play and started on a 6-0 run to cut BYU’s lead to 46-41 in the first two minutes. Mississippi Valley kept it a close game at five points until Fischer knocked down his third trey of the game at the 12:17 mark to give BYU a 59-51 lead.
Inside of four minutes to go, the Cougars still led 68-63 but the Delta Devils wouldn’t go away easy. Emery grabbed a rebound off a missed 3-point attempt from the visitors and dished it down the court to an open Davis for a dunk with 43.1 seconds remaining to put BYU up 73-66. The dunk was the first Cougar field goal in over seven minutes.
BYU used the momentum to finish off Mississippi Valley 75-68.
The Cougars take on Belmont on Saturday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center. The game will be televised on BYUtv and the live radio broadcast can be heard on the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
Stats: BYU 75, MVSU 68
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