BYU blew out UNLV by 33 points on Saturday, and the Cougars decided it was so much fun they would treat the University of Nevada in similar fashion.
BYU owns the Silver State in hoops after wrecking the Wolfpack 75-42 on Tuesday night in the Marriott Center.
“It just another good win where we can keep building great habits and getting stops defensively,” BYU senior guard Jake Toolson said. “I wasn’t here last year but I know they got us pretty good, so I felt like we owed them one this year.”
There was must be a brick-laying major for basketball players at Nevada, because the Wolfpack were in danger of breaking the Marriott Center rims with all kinds of misses.
Some of it was just bad luck for the visitors, which shot a frigid 25 percent (16 of 65) from the field and 3 of 23 (13 percent) from the 3-point line. Nevada had a lot of shots rattle out but also give credit to BYU’s defense for holding the Wolfpack to 42 points. Nevada beat Santa Clara 98-67 and Air Force 100-85 just last week and had won five straight games.
Things got so bad that 6-foot-10 K.J. Hymes missed a point blank, unguarded dunk in the second half.
How much credit should the BYU defense get for those horrific shooting numbers?
“I’m gonna take all of it,” Toolson said. “We had a great game plan. We were locked in and really just wanting to get stops. That’s how we kind of found rhythm and juice on the offensive end. We know we’re going to make plays and make shots but if we can lock in defensively we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Toolson led a balance BYU scoring attack with 15 points, also filling up the stat sheet with seven rebounds and six assists. Yoeli Childs scored all 14 of his points in the second half and added 13 rebounds, moving into second place at BYU in the all-time double-double list with 39. Alex Barcello (13), T.J. Haws (11) and Connor Harding (10) also scored in double figures.
BYU’s streak of four straight games shooting better than 50 percent from the 3-point line ended, but the Cougars did make 12 triples (out of 37 shots) and outscored the Wolfpack 41-20 in the second half.
BYU has made 10 or more 3-pointers in five consecutive games, a school record.
Jalen Harris led Nevada (7-4) with 15 points but was just 5 of 20 from the field, and former Portland standout Jazz Johnson finished with eight points on 3 of 13 from the field.
Neither team distinguished itself shooting in the first half, hovering around 30 percent. But BYU made 8 of 21 (38 percent) from the 3-point line and Nevada struggled to a 1 for 7 start (14 percent) from distance.
The Cougars made of 5 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes of the half, easing out to a 19-9 lead on a triple from Haws. Toolson banged in a 3-pointer then fed Harding on a fast break for a layup and the Cougars had their largest lead, 29-14, with 4:45 to play in the half.
Toolson found Kolby Lee for a basket inside for a 34-20 advantage with six seconds remaining but allowed Harris to go coast-to-coast for a layup to beat the buzzer and BYU led 34-22 at the break.
The Cougars started the second half on a 7-0 run, with Haws notching assists to Toolson for a 3-pointer and Childs for an easy layup. The lead reached 41-22 and Nevada coach Steve Alford called a time out, throwing his clipboard to the floor during the huddle in an effort to rally his team.
That didn’t work: Nevada started the second half a chilly 1 for 13 from the field.
Childs bulled his way to eight points in the first four minutes of the half and the BYU lead ballooned to 23, 47-24, when Barcello fed Dalton Nixon for a layup. The Cougars outscored the Wolfpack 20-4 over the first seven minutes of the second half to claim a 54-26 lead when Barcello made a fancy dribble drive and laid the ball in at the 12:56 mark.
Things never got any better for the Wolfpack, which trailed by as many as 34 points in the second half.
Considering white-hot BYU shot well below its averages yet still won by 30-plus points is a big deal for the Cougars.
“We talked about that at halftime, how exciting it was that we have a chance to win a game a different way, because that’s what good teams do,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “Good teams find all kinds of different ways to win a game. Against UNLV we won because we made every shot, and tonight we got to try to win a game a different way. As we get into league play and the WCC tournament, trust me, we’re going to have to win games lot of different ways.”
BYU (8-4) had just six turnovers, outrebounded Nevada 49-37 and had 11 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points (to just two for the Wolfpack).
The Cougars return to Vivint Smart Home Arena on Saturday for a meeting with Utah State (10-1), which is just out of the Top 25 after receiving 160 votes in the AP Poll.