Three Takeaways From BYU’s Win Over Upset-Minded Southern Utah
PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball found a way to secure a victory over a Southern Utah team that gave the Cougars all they could handle.
The Cougars defeated the Thunderbirds 68-63 that was back-and-forth throughout the second half. But BYU held on to improve their record to 2-1 on the young season.
Here are three takeaways from BYU’s win over Southern Utah.
#1 Jake Toolson came up clutch when BYU needed a big shot
With less than a minute left in regulation, BYU led 63-62. Graduate transfer Jake Toolson who had high expectations upon his arrival to Provo delivered a big three to give the Cougars the cushion they needed, to put away the Thunderbirds.
“They were trying to keep us on the same side of the floor, the way they were defending our screens by “icing the screens.” So Coach (Pope) called a little set we have and I came off and knew the shot-clock was running down and I wanted to get a good look, so I stepped up and got a good look,” said Toolson on what he saw on the three-point make.
Those big shots were exactly what BYU was hoping to get when they secured a commitment from the former WAC Player of the Year out of Utah Valley University.
With Yoeli Childs, continuing to serve his nine-game suspension from the NCAA, guys like Toolson have to make big plays for BYU in the clutch.
#2 BYU closes out the game with a new lineup
BYU closed out the win against Southern Utah with a lineup that featured senior walkon Evan Troy. Troy was on the floor in the final minute with Toolson, Alex Barcello, Dalton Nixon, and Connor Harding. The one notable absence was senior TJ Haws who was battling foul trouble.
“He was huge for us tonight,” said Mark Pope on Evan Troy’s play down the stretch. “It’s nice to be able to reach down and pluck guys off the bench that can fill a role and for you, so I felt comfortable with him on the floor.”
Troy who has been grinding the past four years in the BYU program made his impact felt on the defensive end in the final minute in the win.
#3 Until Childs is back, rebounding and rim protection will be challenges
There were stretches early in the second half when Southern Utah was making a run and built a lead that the Thunderbirds were getting to the rim with ease on BYU’s defense.
The transfer-laden squad from Cedar City was confident and knew they could attack the rim off dribble penetration. BYU for a majority of the night had no answer.
Rebounding was also an issue for the Cougars. BYU ended up minus-seven on the glass with SUU pulling down 38 boards to BYU’s 31. Do the Cougars now make a commitment to a small ball lineup until Childs returns on December 4th? It might have to be considered as guys like Dalton Nixon and Connor Harding accounted for 13 of BYU’s 31 rebounds.
Tougher opponents are ahead and now the Cougars will go on the road with Houston and Boise State coming up next on the schedule.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.