On the same day the BYU football team ran its winning streak over Utah State to eight, the BYU basketball team extended an even more impressive streak with its ninth straight victory over the Aggies.
The Cougars clawed to a 98-94 victory in the second half of the rare football-basketball twi-night doubleheader Saturday. The nine straight basketball victories over the Aggies since 1986 wipes out the nine consecutive wins USU had over BYU between 1981 and 1985.Actually this BYU-USU basketball rivalry isn't as lopsided as it might appear. Six of BYU's nine wins have been decided by four points or less or in overtime.
This game, although termed a "barnyard game" by BYU Coach Roger Reid, was a crowd-pleaser for the 22,312 Marriott Center fans. It featured a striking contrast between the small and more expereinced Aggies and the tall and less experienced Cougars. There were comebacks, slam dunks and three-pointers galore.
The Cougars were led again by sensational freshman Shawn Bradley, who scored 21 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked seven shots. The other Utah freshman, Kenneth Roberts broke out with a 15-point, 14-rebound performance that earned accolades from his coach.
"It was nice to see Kenny come out and have a solid ballgame," said Reid. "He was tough on on the boards and got some good inside baskets."
"I really grew up tonight - I played more physical and worked harder," said the ex-Bingham star.
Utah State's Jay Goodman, a transfer from Iowa State, poured in 33 points, including nine 3-pointers, a Utah State and Marriott Center record. However, USU Coach Kohn Smith wasn't singing his praises afterwards.
"Jay Goodman scores 33 but I don't think he played particularly well," he said. "I don't think he handled the team very well and I didn't think he was very good defensively."
Goodman got off to a shaky start with three turnovers in the first three minutes, before settling down. He showed no conscience when it came to shooting treys with some in the 25-foot range. For the night he was 9 of 14 from 3-point land.
He made one major blunder late in the first half when on a 3-on-1 fast break he pulled up a tried a three when he could have hit Randy Funk for a layup. That came with 13 seconds left and when BYU scored just before halftime to make it 45-44, it turned into a four-point mistake.
Aggie senior Rich Jardine turned in a fine performance with 28 points on 9 of 14 shooting, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. "If I were to single out one player it would be Rich Jardine," said Smith.
Jardine was the whole Aggie offense in first 10 minutes with 16 of the first 22 USU points. At that point it was 22-22, but Cougar reserve Scott Moon was in hot streak of his own.
In a two-and-a-half-minute stretch, Moon went wild scoring 10 points, leading the Cougars to a 30-25 margin.
Goodman tanked a trio of treys in less than two minutes and the Aggies went back on top by three, the last time at 44-41.
Bradley, who was nearly invisible in the first half when he had just 6 points and 3 rebounds, apparently got a wake-up call at halftime.
"I know the offense well, but I just wasn't executing well," said Bradley. "I got hit in the back in the first half and it knocked me silly. I had a light head most of the game."
The Cougars went ahead for good on a Nathan Call layup, which made it 57-55 at the 14:55 mark. Bradley's back-to-back baskets made it 75-66 with 7:36 left. Roberts sank a key shot when he threw in a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to make it 80-69 at the 6:11 mark.
It looked like the Cougars were in great shape, but the scrappy Ags battled back. Consecutive 3-pointers by Jardine made it 92-87 with 2:30 left. A dunk by freshman Eric Franson off an Allen Gordon feed, cut the lead to three, but the Cougars salted the game away with a pair of free throws by Steve Schreiner and 4 of 6 by Call.
The Aggies had one other player in double figures in Kendall Youngblood. But despite 17 points, he was a meager 1 of 9 from the field. He did make 15 of 16 from the line.
For BYU, besides Bradley's 21 and Roberts' 15, Moon had 16, Mark Heslop 15 and Call 11.
Utah State doesn't play again until it meets the Cougars Saturday in Logan. BYU plays at Weber State Thursday before Saturday's rematch.