Overcoming an extremely cold first half, BYU Basketball ran away in the second to beat Loyola Marymount behind huge games from Gavin Baxter and Nick Emery.
BYU Basketball head coach Dave Rose must’ve given one heck of a halftime speech on Saturday night.
After trailing by three points at halftime the Cougars completely throttled Loyola Marymount the rest of the way in a 67-49 win.
Had you told fans that Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws would combine for 15 points on 5-14 shooting, they’d expect that score to be reversed.
But Saturday night was a breakout party for Gavin Baxter and a return to form for Nick Emery.
It’s Baxter’s World
Gavin Baxter finally got the starting nod, and made the most of his extra time. The freshman scored five of BYU’s first seven points and kept on running from there.
Baxter finished with a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds, even hitting two three-pointers.
Emery of Old
Nick Emery played easily his best game of the season, scoring 17 points and hitting all five of his threes. On the defensive end he had half of the team’s eight steals.
If Emery and Baxter continue to play with this kind of confidence this team will be dangerous the rest of the season.
Cold Start, Hot Finish
The Cougars couldn’t hit their open looks against Gonzaga, especially early in the game, and it was the same exact story against LMU. BYU finished the half with only 23 points, shooting 35.7% from the field and hitting just one of their eleven three-point attempts.
But boy did things turn around in the second half. By the time the final horn sounded the Cougars had upped their shooting to 49.1% and their three-point shooting to 36.8%.
Fortunately BYU played surprisingly elite defense, and that kept them in the game early. The Lions hit just 42.9% of their shots and went 1-4 from distance in the first half. More important, though was LMU’s 10 turnovers before the break, including four Cougar steals.
The Cougar defense was even better in the second half. They held the Lions to just six points in the first 11 minutes after the break and 23 points in the entire half.
James Batemon is Loyola Marymount’s leading scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game for the Lions.
The Cougars held him scoreless on 0-8 shooting.
Another Lineup Twist
Not only did Gavin Baxter get his first career collegiate start, but Dave Rose switched things up after halftime too. Nick Emery got the nod over Connor Harding. Considering Emery was the only one able to hit a shot from deep in the first half, the switch made sense.
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It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if this change becomes permanent as well.
Sitting in Second
With the win the Cougars sit alone in second place in the West Coast Conference. If they can fend off Saint Mary’s and San Francisco, that second spot would give them a double-bye in the WCC Tournament.
They’ve got ta solid shot to do that, since St. Mary’s still has to face Gonzaga twice, and San Francisco still has to travel to both Gonzaga and BYU.