BYU Basketball picked up their biggest win of the season so far, using their best defensive game of the season to take down St. Mary’s.
Revenge is sweet.
BYU Basketball took down St. Mary’s on Thursday night 71-66, avenging their blowout loss in Moraga a few weeks ago.
And while it was far from the Cougars’ best offensive outing of the season, it was certainly their best defensive one.
Here are the biggest takeaways from BYU’s biggest win so far this season:
If you’re a fan of offensive basketball this wasn’t a game for you. St. Mary’s entered the game as a Top 20 team in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage, yet the Cougars held the Gaels to just 44.1% shooting and 25% from distance.
It was easily the most disciplined BYU has been on defense all year. They kept up the intensity for the entire shot clock, and didn’t get out of rotation very often.
BYU wasn’t a whole lot better at putting the ball in the basket, though, hitting 45.8% from the field and 28.6% from three.
Assists and Turnovers
While neither team shot the ball well, the deciding factor in this game was turnovers. St. Mary’s turned the ball over 15 times, compared with only five assists for the entire game.
On the flip side, BYU only coughed it up twice, and both of those turnovers came in the first half. They had 14 assists, half of which came from TJ Haws.
Losing the Boards
It’s a good thing the Cougars only turned the ball over twice, because they were absolutely killed on the boards for a second straight game. St. Mary’s outrebounded BYU 42-28, and you don’t often win games when you’re killed that badly in the rebound column.
A Team Game
Both Yoeli Childs and Haws struggled from the field (14-36 combined) although they came up big in other areas and still combined for 40 points.
But the rest of the team showed up to play. Gavin Baxter finished with 10 points, Nick Emery with seven, and McKay Cannon and Zac Seljaas with five apiece. The players not named Childs or Haws combined to shoot 13-23 from the field.
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Speaking of Gavin Baxter, he came up huge for the Cougars on Thursday night. Along with his 10 points he added five rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. The freshman has shown tremendous improvement from the beginning of the season, and he started the second half in place of Luke Worthington.
His length and athleticism are sorely needed, and it likely won’t be long before he replaces Worthington as a starter.
Free Throw Woes
It’s a good thing the game wasn’t tighter down the stretch, since the Cougars couldn’t find their stroke from the free throw line. BYU only hit 13 out of 21 from the charity stripe (61.9%), including three big misses in the last minute of the game.