BYU Basketball: What we learned from the Northwestern St. Blowout

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Dalton Nixon
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: Dalton Nixon /

BYU Basketball took care of business against Northwestern State, and there is plenty to take away from the blowout, both good and bad.

BYU Basketball did exactly what they needed to do on Tuesday night, running away from a shorthanded Northwestern State squad 82-57.

It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Cougars, filled with a lot of mistakes on offense, but the Cougars made the plays they needed to and clamped down on defense.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the blowout win:

Defensive Presence

It’s time to start finally believing that BYU’s defense is good.

Elite? No, but the Cougars should routinely be able to hold most opponents under 70 points, and if they do that they’ll be able to win the games in which they shoot poorly.

Which has been every game so far this season…

Block Party

Speaking of the defense, the Cougars combined to block eight shots against the Demons, and half of those came from Gavin Baxter. BYU is averaging six blocks per game through three contests, and Baxter averages two of those.

As long as he can avoid foul trouble, the freshman is quickly becoming BYU’s best post defender.

Too Many Turnovers

BYU’s passing was sloppy, as was the offense as a whole. The Cougars turned the ball over 15 times, with eight of those coming from steals.

Sloppy play like that won’t work when BYU starts to take on better teams. The Cougars tend to play up or down to their opponents, which isn’t good when you need to avoid bad losses.

Shooting Woes Continue

At least BYU shot a little bit better from distance against Northwestern State, but not by much. The Cougars missed their first seven threes before finally settling in and hitting some deep balls. They finished 7-22 (31.8%) from deep, their first game over 30%.

BYU may be slowly breaking out of their shooting slump, but that gradual improvement has to continue if the Cougars want to beat better competition.

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The Nixon Effect

The team looks better when Dalton Nixon gets the start instead of Luke Worthington. A part of that is Worthington’s lack of any offensive game, but more important is Nixon’s hustle and smart play.

The junior put together one of his best nights, finishing with 15 points, two rebounds, and a block in nearly 20 minutes of play.

Good Haws Again

While the Cougars struggled with turnovers, TJ Haws didn’t. He initiated the offense frequently, yet only turned it over once compared to his four assists. He also added 12 points on only eight shots.

When Haws plays in control and his shot is on he adds a whole new dimension to the Cougars that perfectly compliments Yoeli Childs.

Free Throws

We can finally stop the harping. For the first time this season the Cougars finished above 70% from the free throw line, finishing 19-25 (76%).

Now that they’ve broken that barrier, it’s time to see BYU start hitting that threshold consistently.