SALT LAKE CITY — Guard McKay Cannon made his BYU debut last week and promptly came off the bench to score 25 points and dish out eight assists in Cougar victories over in-state opponents Utah Valley University and Utah State.
So what will Cannon accomplish when he faces his former team, Weber State, Saturday at Vivint Arena?
“It will be an emotional game for McKay, for the fact that he played there and knows those guys so well,” said BYU coach Dave Rose.
The Cougars (7-2), who are riding a four-game winning streak, and the Wildcats (4-4) meet in the second game of the inaugural Beehive Classic. Utah takes on Utah State in the first game of the night.
Weber State (4-4), BYU (7-2)
Saturday, 8 p.m. MST Vivint Arena
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Cannon transferred from Weber State and it appeared he would be sidelined this season due to transfer rules. But Cannon and BYU appealed and the NCAA ruled that the 6-foot, 185-pound junior from Shelley, Idaho, was eligible to play just hours before the game at UVU.
Cannon scored eight points and had six assists that night before pouring in 17 points at USU.
Prior to transferring to BYU, Cannon helped the Wildcats reach the NCAA Tournament as a freshman.
Cannon’s experience has been invaluable for the Cougars, who don’t have any seniors on the roster.
“I played two years of college basketball and I feel like I have a lot of experience that I can share with the guys,” Cannon said. “I’ve been through a lot of stuff. It’s a relief to be on the court, thinking I was going to sit one year. Now I’m just free, playing how I want to play. It’s just fun.”
Cougar guard TJ Haws is happy to have more depth in the backcourt.
“It’s good having McKay with us. He’s been tough to guard on the scout squad all year,” Haws said. “We were really excited to have him with us. He adds another threat for us. He’s a great team player and fun to play with.”
Did Rose expect Cannon to provide so much poise and leadership?
“I don’t think you ever know until you put him in the situation,” he said. “The confidence to execute the stuff in our system, we knew he was good at that because we watched him every day. He just helps our guard line It makes us deeper. We needed it (against Utah State) because we got into foul trouble.”
While BYU is coming off an 80-68 win over Illinois State last Wednesday, Weber State fell at UVU, 83-56.
The Wildcats have four starters that average double figures, led by guard Jerrick Harding (18.4 points per game). WSU’s other starters are forward Brekkott Chapman (14.0), guard Ryan Richardson (12.1), center Zach Braxton (10.8) and forward Michal Kozak (4.5).
“Weber State is a very good team and we’re looking forward to (the game),” Haws said.
The Wildcats opened the season with a 65-59 win at home against Utah State. Weber State has lost two games in a row, including an 83-71 setback at Fresno State.
BYU leads the all-time series against WSU, 32-10. The Cougars are 21-10 against the Wildcats in Provo and 10-10 in Ogden. BYU has a 0-1 edge in neutral-site games.
The Cougars have won 14 in a row against Weber State, dating back to 2003, and Rose is 12-0 all-time against the Wildcats.
Next Saturday, BYU hosts arch-rival Utah in another in-state clash.
What does Rose think about coaching in-state games?
“The only fun thing about them is after they’re over and you’ve won,” he said. “Other than that, it’s tough.”
The Cougars have won six straight games at Vivint Arena, which includes a couple of victories over USU.