SALT LAKE CITY — One thing the first-ever Beehive Classic brought us is a preview of next Saturday’s late-night Utah at BYU game.
This should be a dogfight in Provo, a first-class entertaining game. Late-night TV folks will be rewarded. It will be dramatic, fun and, if we are lucky, a throwback to those high-effort, do-or-die possessions of yesteryear.
All that’s missing is Nick Emery.
The Utes beat USU; BYU defeated Weber State.
If organizers wanted to sell more popcorn, it should have been Utah-BYU. About 6,000 showed up to this NBA arena.
Players on both teams are going to hear fans barking at them all week. That will get them off their Xboxes.
Utah plays physical, is fundamentally sound and shot it very well from inside and out in a solid win Saturday night in the first Ute win over Utah State since 2009. Larry Krystkowiak’s team plays hard on defense, will challenge the 3-point line and has decent size and athleticism among ball handlers.
Utah’s balanced scoring was impressive. Justin Bibbins and Tyler Rawson had 16, David Collette 13 and Parker Van Dyke 10. The Utes shot 51 percent from the field and a very respectable 45 percent from beyond the arc on 10 of 22 shots.
The Cougars aren’t going to chuck and run. The more deliberate play will remind us of the Rick Majerus-Roger Reid battles back in the day — more interested in defense and making opponents play a little more of their own by passing the ball deep in the shot clock.
We saw Utah jump hard on the Aggies early, then coast.
BYU kept Weber State engaged the entire game.
The Wildcats missed Zach Braxton (Achilles strain) and former Ute Brekkott Chapman (foot sprain). Weber State had three true freshmen on the floor at times, and BYU was without fire plug forward Dalton Nixon (foot injury).
BYU will have a challenge with Utah’s size around the basket with 6-foot-8 Yoeli Childs doing the lion’s share of defending in the paint. Childs will have to stay out of foul trouble and his buddies will have to respect Utah’s outside shooting. Look for Krystkowiak to pound it inside.
Utah looked faster. BYU had a lot of trouble with Weber State guard Jerry Harding (29 points) taking Cougar guards off the dribble for nice finishes at the rim.
Utah’s 77-66 win over the Aggies is tough to contrast on a neutral court wherein BYU beat Utah State in Logan at the ever-so-tough Spectrum 75-66. But that comparative score couldn’t get much closer to spot on duty.
USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s ratings have Utah 61st and BYU 65th this past week. Ken Pomeroy has Utah 60th and the Cougars 68th during this same time span in December.
BYU beat Weber State 74-68. The Cougars got up early by nine in the first half by knocking down 6 of 10 from long range. Leading 36-32 at the half, BYU came out after intermission and looked disinterested and the Wildcats immediately took a 41-40 lead.
BYU got it back on a pair of bombs by Elijah Bryant and TJ Haws to lead 46-41 within minutes and held on at the end.
And that is where I believe Saturday’s game will be won: 3-point shots. That, and turnovers.
It will come down to the long-range archers. And Utah is going to be all over these Cougars after watching Haws dump in 24 points.
BYU might win this aspect but Utah will likely get more made shots at the rim. It will come down to how many 3-pointers are flushed and by whom.
On Saturday night, BYU saw Haws find his shot, and it was fun.
Utah’s defense is better. BYU might be able to score more in bunches on its home court, however. BYU is a team that scores in spurts.
Because BYU allowed a four-win Weber State team to out-hustle it for a big chunk of the time Saturday night, Dave Rose has his work cut out for him this week.
Out-hustle? Second chance points: Weber State won that 7-4. Turnovers: Weber State had 12 to BYU’s 14. Points in the paint: Weber State won that 36-25 because of Harding. Steals: Weber State won that 9 to 7.
If you go by this Beehive Classic, Utah is the early favorite to win in Provo.