BYU’s first half against Weber State on Saturday was as pretty as a Christmas card.
Make that a Christmas card filled with cash money, because that’s what most of the Cougars shots were in the first 20 minutes.
BYU set a program record by shooting 80 percent from the field in the first half and went on to rout the Wildcats 91-61 at the Marriott Center, preserving a streak of 21 straight wins against Weber State at home.
BYU senior forward Yoeli Childs was sensational in the first half, making all 10 of his field goal attempts for 22 points. Add to that a ferocious alley-oop dunk off a pass from T.J. Haws and a soaring block of a Michael Kozak 3-pointer and you’ve got a player Weber State found pretty much impossible to guard. His 22-point first half was a career high. The 10 straight field goals is a school record for a first half and ties the record for either half set by Danny Ainge.
“It’s a good feeling when your shots are falling like that,” Childs said. “I think my teammates and my coaches put a lot of confidence in me. I’ve been missing a couple of bunnies here and there just getting back into the flow of things. But my teammates are super positive and super encouraging. They say, ‘Don’t worry about that, your shots are going to fall.’ I think the confidence they give me helps my game a lot.”
Childs finished with 28 points on 11 of 13 from the field and added eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Childs’ teammates were nearly as sharp offensively in the first half. The Cougars made 12 of their first 15 shots and finished the half 20 of 25 from the field to go along with 13 assists.
BYU had 25 assists in total for a season-high.
Alex Barcello finished the game with 18 points for the Cougars and made 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. Dalton Nixon and Connor Harding scored 11 points each and Jake Toolson added 10. Haws contributed nine points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“With this team, my eyes are lit up the entire game,” Childs said. “I Iove it. It’s really tough for the opposing coach. I don’t envy their job because you really have to pick your poison. Are you going to let one of best shooting teams in the country shoot threes or are you going to play one-on-one in the post? We feel like no matter what the opposing team does on defense, they are wrong.”
It must have felt that way for Weber State in the first half.
BYU opened the game bombing away from the 3-point line – two from Barcello and one by Toolson – then hammered the Wildcats inside by sharing the ball and getting easy layups. The Haws to Childs alley-oop gave the Cougars a 17-10 lead. Later in the half a devastating 21-5 run – with eight points from Childs – pushed the BYU advantage to 40-19 with four minutes to play. A 3-pointer and a turnaround jumper from Childs gave the Cougars a 27-point lead (51-24) at halftime.
Weber State (3-7) got its offense going in the second half behind Jerrick Harding (27 points, 15 in the second half) but never moved any closer than 17 points. The Cougars weren’t nearly as efficient on offense in the second half but a 9-1 run, punctuated by a no-look pass from Barcello to Nixon for a layup on the break, gave BYU an 80-53 lead with 4:53 to play.
“Our trajectory is really positive because of the shots the guys are getting and the way they are approaching their shots,” Cougar coach Mark Pope said. “We judge our offense by the shots we are earning for the guys and how they are approach their shot. That’s a winning formula for us.”
Haws got a highlight moment with a steal and a one-handed dunk for an 88-56 bulge in the final two minutes.
“I’m going to have that dunk on replay, are you kidding me?” Childs said in the post-game. “I’ve never jumped so high in my life on the sideline. I thought I was going to hurt myself. I’m making that my screensaver and I need a poster. If my wife is OK with it I might name my first son Tyson (Haws’s first name). That was sick.”
BYU sophomore big man Kolby Lee missed the game with a knee injury and is expected to be out for several weeks. Nixon was inserted into the starting lineup in his place.
The Cougars (10-4) are off until next Saturday when they will host Oral Roberts in the final preseason game.