ST. GEORGE — After a slow start to the game and a number of bad turnovers in the first half, Southern Utah University’s men’s basketball went into the half against Brigham Young University only down by five points.
SUU came out of the locker room with energy, and it showed, as they took the lead with about 10 minutes to go in the game. Some late turnovers and empty possessions would be the deciding factor. SUU would only be down two with two minutes left, but their inability to shoot from beyond 15 feet would hurt them, as they would lose 68-63.
The Thunderbirds finished the night 0-12 from beyond the arc but outscored the Cougars by 24 points in the paint. SUU was able to get to the rim with ease and score in transition, but their lack of three point shooting was one of the biggest, if not the biggest factor, in the loss.
John Knight III came to play, scoring 22 points in 23 minutes on only 14 shots. Andre Adams had some big baskets down low, scoring 12 points on the night, while Harrison Butler was a force with his back to the basket, also adding 11 points.
The Thunderbirds held BYU to 68 points in the game, using their length and athleticism to get six blocks and 12 turnovers. They were lockdown on defense; their offense just couldn’t keep up.
“Obviously it’s disappointing,” Thunderbirds head coach Todd Simon said in SUU press coverage. “This was a game we felt like we could and should have won, but it’s tough on the road. To hold BYU to 68 on their home floor is difficult to do.”
SUU was only down one with 34 seconds left, when BYU’s Jake Toolson hit a three to put the Cougars up four. Toolson did not shoot the ball well from the field, 8-21 and 2-8 from three, but the Senior came in clutch with the stepback jumper. Toolson also had some big baskets in the post down the stretch that helped the Cougars get the win.
The Thunderbirds got the ball back after Knight III made a free throw and Dre Marin got a three off for the tie, but it missed.
Marin missed three, which brought the T-birds to a total of twelve three point attempts, and SUU missed them all. Combine that with 18 turnovers and a good amount of empty possessions, and SUU was unable to steal a game on the road against a disciplined BYU team.
“I think we played an overall decent game; we’ve just got to cut down on our turnovers,” Knight III said to SUU press. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers that are all on us, we’ve just got to work hard at practice and cut down on those.”
The Thunderbirds are now 2-1 on the season and finish their stretch of tough road games with a trip to Westwood, California. SUU will play UCLA on Monday at 9 p.m. MST. UCLA is one of the most storied college basketball programs in the country, with first year head coach Mick Cronin who was formerly the head coach at Cincinnati, and they are a solid team with athleticism to match the Thunderbirds. It will be another great non-conference test for Todd Simon and company.
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