LOGAN — During BYU’s win over Utah Valley University last Wednesday, the complexion of the Cougars’ season may have changed for the better.
Less than four hours before tipoff, the NCAA informed BYU that guard McKay Cannon, a Weber State transfer, had become eligible to play this season.
Cannon made an immediate impact — recording eight points, six assists, two rebounds, one block and one steal in 20 minutes of play in the Cougars’ 85-58 victory at UVU.
The 6-foot, 185-pound junior’s presence provides BYU with more depth, experience and options as they visit Utah State Saturday (7 p.m., MST, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain) — and it's a positive harbinger for the rest of the season.
“He’ll really help our team. He has a lot of experience,” said BYU coach Dave Rose. “You think about the youth of our team and what he’s done. He started 41 Division I games. You bring that to this group, it will really help us.”
In two seasons at Weber State following an LDS Church mission to Chile, Cannon helped lead the Wildcats to Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.7 assists and hit 41 3-pointers.
Cannon spent last summer working out with the Cougars and he was part of the scout team before becoming eligible.
“McKay’s a beast. He’s been on the practice squad all year because we were thinking that he’d have to redshirt and he just kills us sometimes,” said forward Yoeli Childs. “That first pull-up 3 he had (against UVU), that’s automatic for him. He’s tough to guard. He’s a gritty player. He’ll do anything to win a game. I knew he would come out and play like that.”
Meanwhile, Childs dominated against UVU, scoring 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He poured in 18 first-half points as BYU built a double-digit lead.
“My guys were just finding me in open spots,” Childs said. “We’re tough to beat when we’re unselfish.”
The Cougars (5-2) knocked down 12 3-pointers and had 25 assists on 30 made baskets. BYU also played strong defense against the Wolverines, limiting UVU to 1 of 8 shooting from 3-point range.
Matching that performance against Utah State (4-4) could prove to be much more difficult in a tough venue like the Spectrum. The Cougars are looking forward to taking on another in-state opponent on the road.
BYU (5-2) at Utah State (4-4)
Saturday, 7 p.m. MST Dee Glen Smith Spectrum
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
“I haven’t played there yet. I guess they have a great student section,” Childs said of USU. “I’ve heard a lot of great things about it. It’s going to be a super-fun environment. That’s what you play for, moments like that to be able to play against a good team in a good environment.”
BYU is playing a stretch of its schedule that sees it meet four in-state foes in five games. After facing USU Saturday, the Cougars will play Weber State at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Dec. 9 and will host archrival Utah Dec. 16.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s just a different vibe. You know a lot of the guys. A lot of guys are returned missionaries and I watched them growing up,” Childs said of the in-state games. “It’s kind of cool to go out there and play against guys you wanted to be like when you were younger. Everybody knows everybody. There’s a rivalry in the stands. You can hear both teams going back and forth. In-state games are a great environment.”
Before Cannon goes against his former school next week, he is looking forward to playing the Aggies.
“Anytime we have an opportunity to compete, it’s a challenge, especially in-state games,” Cannon said. “Everyone knows that tempers are high and it’s just fun. It’s important to win in-state games just to try to make a statement.”