BYU COUGARS

BYU Closes Out Non-Conference With Physical Victory Over Oral Roberts

Dec 28, 2019, 10:09 PM | Updated: 10:10 pm
Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (4) goes for a layup against Oral Roberts Golden Eagles g...
Brigham Young Cougars guard Alex Barcello (4) goes for a layup against Oral Roberts Golden Eagles guard Sam Kearns (10) and guard Max Abmas (3) during the first half of an NCAA men's basketball game at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (Colter Peterson, Deseret News)
(Colter Peterson, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball closed out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 79-73 win over a physical Oral Roberts team that wouldn’t go down without a battle.

With two minutes remaining in the game, BYU was tied with the Golden Eagles from Tulsa, Oklahoma at 67 apiece. Then BYU’s seniors helped put the game out of reach led by Jake Toolson who knocked down a clutch three to give BYU a 70-67 lead with 1:45 left.

Moments later senior Dalton Nixon came up with arguably the play of the game with BYU holding on to a two-point lead, Nixon pulled down an offensive rebound off a Connor Harding missed free throw. The offensive board set up Toolson to get into the post and knock down a fadeaway jump shot. BYU pulled away from there to secure their 11th win of the season and fifth in a row since a setback earlier in the month to rival Utah.

“I’m so happy. I’m really proud of our guys. We did things in a way different way,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy and there wasn’t a lot of flow to the game. But guys figured it out and we had some guys step up. Zac Seljaas made some unbelievable defensive plays in the last four minutes … Jake [Toolson] made a couple of huge shots … it’s so beautiful though to win different ways and our guys did that tonight.”

Toolson ended the night with 22 points, 8 assists, and six rebounds in 36 minutes of play and had a team-high +12 in plus-minus in the victory. Yoeli Childs led BYU in scoring with 23 points and became the 10th leading scorer in BYU basketball history passing Mark Bigelow for career points. Childs now has 1,746 points in his career at BYU.

One of the concerns coming into the game was Oral Roberts’ physicality and ability to rebound. The Golden Eagles’ physicality in the post kept them in the game and they finished plus-nine in the rebound margin.

“There is this little worrisome trend right now with San Diego State, Kansas, Oral Roberts, these teams that are just so physically dominant, we haven’t quite found out a rebounding answer. We were still able to win tonight, but that’s a little worrisome,” said Pope. “But I feel like a lot of our weaknesses have been exposed and we’ve had a chance to try and address them. That’s what you want, right? Now it really starts for real.”

The real portion of the schedule Pope is referring to is West Coast Conference play which begins next Saturday against Loyola Marymount at the Marriott Center. Oral Roberts’ style of play was an early glimpse at the type of play BYU will likely see in the WCC.

“I think it was a really good tune-up for us going into conference,” said Yoeli Childs. “Just having that feel and that physicality and having that close game. It was really good for us, I think it’s going to help us going into conference.”

Tip-ins

  • BYU center Kolby Lee returned to action after missing one game. Lee played three minutes and made a three-pointer in his return. Lee was seen wearing a brace on his knee. Earlier in the week, head coach Mark Pope jokingly said he brought in a hypnotist to heal Lee.

 

  • Russell M. Nelson the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in attendance for BYU’s victory over Oral Roberts.

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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