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BYU’s Defense Stifles Nevada For ‘Huge Win’ In Steve Alford’s Return

Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball has a defense. That’s a sentence that hasn’t been typed often when recapping BYU games, but the Cougars put the lockdown Tuesday night on the Nevada Wolfpack.

BYU (8-4) defeated Nevada by 33 points. That’s not a typo. The final score at the Marriott Center was 75-42 and it felt as though BYU blew out the Wolfpack by more than the final score indicated.

All the credit again goes to BYU’s suffocating defense on a Nevada team that was riding high offensively with a five-game winning streak before running into a buzzsaw in Provo.

“I am really proud of our guys tonight,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. ” This Nevada team has been one of the scariest offensive teams that we have prepared for. Our guys were really locked in and they managed the defensive end really well and we managed some frustration on the offensive end really well and that’s a huge skill. Huge win for us and it is really important. I am really proud of our guys and ready for the next one.”

Nevada came into Tuesday’s game as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. Against BYU, the Wolfpack shot 15 percent from three-point range making only three of their 23 attempts from beyond the arc.

“We didn’t play very well. Their energy level was better, they played at a much greater pace. I thought they defended us really well and we had a game where we didn’t shoot the ball very well. That kind of affected how we played,” said Nevada coach Steve Alford. “But overall it just wasn’t a great night.”

Alford, the former New Mexico, UCLA, and Iowa head coach made his first appearance on the sidelines at the Marriott Center since 2011 when he was with New Mexico. Tuesday night ended Alford’s two-game winning streak in Provo.

For BYU, this is a huge win as Mark Pope put it because the Cougars won despite not shooting well on the night. BYU shot 41 percent from the field and 32 percent from three with guard Jake Toolson leading the Cougars in scoring with a game-high 15 points.

“We talked about that at halftime about how exciting it was to have a chance to win a game a different way. Because that’s what good teams do, said Pope.

“Good teams find all kinds of ways to win a game. Against UNLV, we won a game because we made every shot the whole night. Tonight, we got to try and win a game another way. When we get into league play and the WCC Tournament – trust me – we’re gonna have to win games a bunch of different ways. And the fact that our guys recognized they had that opportunity at halftime, recognized that they had to manage the frustration at halftime and then came out in the second half and continued to do. We’re making progress and we’re growing and that’s all I can ask of ourselves.”

Getting a win where Yoeli Childs was held scoreless in the first half and the outside shooting wasn’t going down the way it has in recent games will do a lot for BYU’s confidence moving forward.

Now Pope and his BYU team will look to make even more progress when they take on 9-1 Utah State in Salt Lake City as part of the Beehive Classic at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

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.

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