BYU basketball: Cougars outplay the Utah for rivalry victory

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

BYU basketball gave fans an early Christmas gift, taking down the Utah Utes  77-65 in the Marriott Center.

BYU basketball — heck, the entire state of Utah knew it was going to be in a for a title fight.

They got it, and the Cougars took the belt, led by Elijah Bryant’s 29 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. This tied up a clean sweep of victories to win the state. And from fans, alumni, and players, there was much rejoicing.

From the tip, both teams came in focused, patient, and careful. Few fouls were called. Referees weren’t swallowing their whistles so much neither team gave them much reason to blow them. Careful play led to a punch-for-punch opening round.

The Cougars led at the half by nine, 37 to 28, by virtue of one or two better stops, one or two more three point buckets made. It seemed like inches gained at a time, but that added up.

And then in the second half, when the Cougs felt like they would roll, Yoeli had to be helped off the court. And the BYU season held its breath.

When he came back, it roared back to life. Payton Dastrup drew a charge and made two gigantic made threes, and that jumped the Cougars ahead by 10+ again when the Utes had made a run and cut the lead to five.

Childs hobbled in and out as his cramping calf nagged him, but something about how he stepped back in meant everything was going to be okay. From there the game was just grinding the clock and the will away.

It was the first game in recent memory that had that old Marriott Center magic. The ineffable stuff that electrifies the senses. Now, it was no runaway. But the Cougars were just that much better, and wanted it that much more, and the atmosphere crackled.

And the result is this:

The drought is over. BYU basketball downs the Utes.