BYU basketball: Cougs overcome UTA hangover to down scrappy Niagara

PROVO, UT - FEBRUARY 02: Nigel Williams-Goss
PROVO, UT - FEBRUARY 02: Nigel Williams-Goss /

BYU basketball looked like it was still feeling the effects of its last loss in the first half against the Niagara Purple Eagles. But the Cougars rallied and won the game.

BYU basketball must have still been a little stunned.

After a few quick points, the Cougars found themselves stumbling through their offensive sets. There wasn’t much rhythm against an opponent that had given up back to back 100 point games on defense.

To make things worse, the same transition game that burned the Cougars against UT Arlington was still finding the bottom of the net against Niagara. It’s odd that a team that was a run and gun mecca as recently as last year suddenly has trouble defending it.

Matt Scott and Khalil Dukes were as dangerous as advertised, and the Cougar defense found itself a step slow time after time. BYU ended up trailing by three, 34-31, in a low scoring first half.

But basketball games are not 20 minutes long. Not 25, either. And in the final 15 of the game, the Cougars cranked up the aggressiveness on both ends of the floor.

Gimpy Elijah Bryant attacked the lane and drew the whistles, and hit a few from deep. Yoeli Childs made the paint an unhappy place for NIU more and more as the clock ticked away.

The 1-3-1 defense that debuted this year against UTA also made an appearance. And this time, it succeeded in throwing off the Purple Eagles’ offensive rhythm, and caused a couple of turnovers.

Between that, only five turnovers compared to nine in the first half, and hitting a sizzling 53 percent from the field, the Cougars scored 64 second half points to down NIU 95 to 88.

It was harder than it should have been against a team that should have been a warm up for BYU’s linchpin match against Alabama Friday. But the Cougars got the win, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.