BYU basketball report card: The future is now as Bartley and Mika lead the Cougars past the Aggies (6 items)
BYU took over the last 10 minutes of the game to pull away from the Utah State Aggies Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena. With 10 minutes remaining, the Cougars led by just one at 59-58. From there, they outscored the Aggies 26-16 to pull away with an 85-74 win.
Perhaps the biggest thing BYU did to reverse its fortunes against a tough Utah State squad was to stay out of foul trouble, committing only nine fouls. Prior to this game, the Cougs were doing well to commit only nine fouls in a half, let alone the entire game. The Aggies shot just six free throws compared to 27 for the Cougars.
BYU also boosted its assists tally, dishing out 18 compared to seven in its loss to Wichita State. The Cougars helped their cause further by committing only seven turnovers while forcing the Aggies into 16. Fouls and turnovers were the difference in the game.
Freshmen standouts Eric Mika and Frank Bartley IV both came up big in a game BYU had to have. Mika pulled down nine rebounds, five of them offensive, which was a big improvement over the single rebound he got against Wichita State. Tyler Haws continued to knock down free throws, and Kyle Collinsworth had a good all-around game to lead BYU.
Here are the grades for each BYU position group and other aspects of the game.
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1 of 6. BYU GUARDS
Kyle Collinsworth had the best overall stat line of the game for BYU, finishing with 13 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks, seven points and just one turnover. He did make only 1-of-4 free throws, however, and that is becoming a trend and a story line to watch for Cougar fans. He needs to find a way to improve in that area if BYU wants to compete for a conference championship this season.
Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino were about average in the game, combining to shoot 13-of-30 with just six rebounds and five assists. Scarcely used reserve guard Skyler Halford provided an excellent spark off the bench for BYU in his most impressive performance to date as a Cougar.
2 of 6. BYU BIG MEN
Nate Austin also stayed out of foul trouble. He wasn’t a huge factor in the game but did help the team more than he hurt it. No other big men played for the Cougars, as they played small most of the game.
3 of 6. BYU COACHING
Also credit the coaches for helping the team bounce back with 18 assists to only seven turnovers. The half-court offense was more fluid and intuitive.
Finally, credit the coaching staff for BYU’s defensive turnaround in the second half. The defense looked as soft as ever in the first half, giving up 59 percent shooting to Utah State. In the second half, however, the Aggies made just 12-of-34 shots. The Cougs still have a lot of work to do on defense, but they did look better in the second half and they found a way to force turnovers without fouling. For a fast-break team like BYU, that is a big deal.
4 of 6. UTAH STATE OVERALL
Aggie fans will no doubt point to the free-throw discrepancy in this game. It is not too often a team shoots more than four times as many free throws as the other team. Utah State played well except for that one stretch when it fell apart as BYU went on a run to steal away the game. No Aggie players will walk away from this game tonight feeling like they wouldn’t have a great shot at beating the Cougars if they were to play again.
5 of 6. OFFICIATING
Some calls could have gone either way, as is always the case, but the officials didn’t cost the Aggies the game. Their sloppy play for that stretch in the second half did.