BYU mbb Yoeli Childs

Is it the shoes?

It must be the shoes.

BYU senior Yoeli Childs had a monster game at Pepperdine on Saturday afternoon, finishing with a career-high 38 points and 14 rebounds as the Cougars locked up the second seed in next week’s West Coast Conference Tournament with an 81-64 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 3,104.

The Waves opted to single cover Childs and paid a heavy price.

Childs – who wore different multi-colored shoes during the game – was 17 of 27 from the field and helped No. 17 BYU dominate the Waves in the paint 52-20. He was an equally good in each half, scoring 17 in the first and 21 in the second as the Cougars pulled away in the final 10 minutes.

Childs has scored now more than 2,000 points in his career (2,008) and has 1,043 rebounds. He needs just five more boards to pass Kyle Collinsworth for the all-time record at BYU.

“Pepperdine has a defense that switches it up a lot,” Childs told the BYU Sports Network. “They didn’t double and they haven’t shown that all year. If they’re doubling, I’m going to kick it. If it’s one guy I’m going to go score and try to help the team. I felt like I took a lot of shots. I was getting them up tonight. To score a lot of points you got to shoot the ball a lot. My teammates were finding me and the coaches did a great job of running sets to get me the ball where I like it.”

Pepperdine held a 35-32 lead at halftime, mainly on the strength of Kessler Edwards. The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored 18 points on 4 of 6 from the 3-point line in the first 20 minutes. Fortunately for BYU, Childs had an impressive half as well, scoring 17 points on 8 of 12 from the field.

A Jake Toolson 3-pointer gave BYU an early 15-9 lead, but the first half was close throughout. A layup by Victor Ohia Obioha with 57 seconds to play gave the home team the 3-point lead at the break.

BYU tied the game at 41 early in the second half on a Childs rebound and putback and took a 46-43 lead when Connor Harding drained a corner 3-pointer at the 14:50 mark.

The Cougars never trailed again. Childs threw down a powerful two-handed dunk on Edwards for a 54-47 advantage with 10:30 to play and Zac Seljaas scored 10 of his 12 during a three-minute stretch that saw BYU take control of the game.

The Cougars outscored Pepperdine 49-29 in the second half, shooting 65 percent (20 of 31) from the field and had a 32-8 advantage in the paint.

“Ranked teams are losing games, that’s the norm,” BYU coach Mark Pope told the BYU Sports Network. “The guys were kind of laughing at me all week because I kind of lost my mind with everything that happened with the Gonzaga game and this game had me all twisted up. The fact that they came in and competed the way they did is a testament to their insides. I couldn’t be prouder of them or happier for them. The defensive end won us the game tonight. To hold this team to 64 points on their home court, I’m ecstatic because that is so hard to do.”

Edwards finished with 24 points for Pepperdine (8-8 WCC, 15-15 overall).

Toolson was ejected from the game with 4:06 to play for coming off the bench to help Alex Barcello to his feet. Barcello had fallen hard underneath the basket after missing a layup. Because Toolson did not leave the bench to participate in a fight, he is not subject to any disciplinary action.

BYU (13-3, 24-7) has won nine straight games and will have a bye to the semifinals of the WCC Tournament next Monday and will be opposite Gonzaga, which clinched the league title several games ago.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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