SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday night’s showdown between BYU and Utah State lived up to the hype.
Physical and intense play, fans from both sides creating an exciting atmosphere, and — most of all — some stellar play from both schools defined BYU’s 85-74 victory over the Aggies at EnergySolutions Arena.
“It was a great crowd, a great atmosphere, and I’m really proud of our guys for making some key plays down the stretch,” said BYU coach Dave Rose.
The Cougars used scrappy and aggressive play in the second half to turn a 44-39 halftime deficit into a convincing 11-point victory. Junior guard Tyler Haws paced BYU offensively and led all scorers with 21 points, while Matt Carlino and Eric Mika added 18 and 15, respectively.
Meanwhile, Spencer Butterfield led the Aggies with 20 points on four 3-pointers. Kyle Davis chipped in 16 points, and Jarred Shaw added 12.
BYU received key contributions off the bench from guards Skyler Halford (eight points) and Frank Bartley IV (14 points.)
Bartley, in particular, made an impact and added much-needed energy.
“Frank came in and he played great,” said BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth. “We fed off Frank and he played an awesome game.”
BYU led for most of the first half, but a 9-2 run in the final minutes suddenly put the Aggies in control entering the locker room.
“I really felt like at the end of the first half that we got a little bit stagnant in our offense and they kind of (took advantage)", Rose said. "So we thought that if we could get some guys to really attack them that it would change the pace of the game.”
Rose's hafltime charge was simple, direct and apparently well-received.
The Cougars stormed out in the second half with a 6-0 run that was defined by hustle plays on both ends of the court.
“We were scrappier and I think that’s why we won that game,” Collinsworth said. “When Utah State gets a lead, and gets in their sets, it’s tough to beat Utah State when they slow the game down and take control.”
BYU's specific changes included a smaller lineup that had Collinsworth and Bartley rotating at the four position, with Mika taking most of the minutes at the five.
Collinsworth filled up the stat sheet with seven points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
“Kyle was the difference in the game as far as our staff is concerned,” Rose said. “The matchups where he was able to guard inside and outside guys, and switch on some of the ball screens, he was just a warrior tonight.”
Following BYU's initial second-half surge, the Aggies didn't go away and took a 55-50 advantage before BYU used an 8-0 run to take the lead back for good, ultimately cruising to an 85-74 victory.
The win was a needed one for a BYU team that previously dropped two tough contests to ranked opponents in just over a week's span. Rose credited his players for their resilience and offered praise for Utah State and Aggie coach Stew Morrill.
“These guys are fighters and in the second half it came down to what I feel are two really good basketball teams figuring out how to get a win," he said. "We were able to make a few more plays, but I think Stew (Morrill) is going to have a heck of a year.”
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