PROVO — For BYU forward Dalton Nixon, facing Utah Valley University is a big deal.
His sister, Bailey, plays volleyball for the Wolverines. His dad, Kevin, played basketball at UVU before transferring to BYU while his mom, Stephanie, played volleyball and basketball at the school.
“It means a lot,” Dalton Nixon said.
The Cougars and Wolverines are set to collide Friday (8 p.m., MST, BYUtv) at the Marriott Center in the Crosstown Clash.
Nixon’s ties to UVU don't end there.
Wolverine coach Mark Pope was an assistant at BYU during Nixon’s freshman year and UVU star guard Jake Toolson was Nixon’s roommate before Toolson transferred.
“I’m really excited to play this game. I think our guys have a really good mindset, especially coming off the game that we played last year,” Nixon said. “We want to have that same intensity. I know that UVU is going to be ready to go. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll see what happens on Friday. We’ll be locked in and we’ll try to just be focused on the game plan and execute.”
Two years ago, Utah Valley stunned BYU at the Marriott Center, 114-101, in a contest that saw the Wolverines knock down 18 3-pointers.
It marked UVU’s first win over the Cougars in three meetings all-time and it was one of the biggest victories in the program’s history.
The 114 points were the most points ever scored by a BYU opponent in the Marriott Center and the 18 triples were the most scored there by a team.
With that humbling loss in their minds, the Cougars earned a measure of revenge with an 85-58 rout of UVU at the UCCU Center a year ago.
Yoeli Childs poured in 24 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in that game.
That contest marked the BYU debut of guard McKay Cannon, hours after it was announced that he had received an NCAA waiver to play after transferring from Weber State.
Cannon made an immediate impact, hitting his first shot as a Cougar with a 3-pointer late in the first half. He finished with eight points and six assists.
Two years after UVU’s upset at the Marriott Center, BYU’s players are very aware of that result, though only a few who played in that game are still on the roster.
“Ever since I’ve been home from my mission, that’s the buzz that I’ve heard here in the valley,” said Nixon, who was serving a mission in Boston when that game in Provo took place. “That was a huge game for Utah Valley. We definitely focus on that — a guy like Jake Toolson, who is going to come play with a chip on his shoulder. We definitely want to take control of the game and keep up the intensity of what we did last year and carry it on to this game.”
BYU coach Dave Rose is expecting an up-tempo style from UVU.
“They’ll come in here with a real aggressive attitude,” he said. “Their style is similar to ours. They’ll attack us from a bunch of different angles.”5 comments on this story
“UVU is always a fun game to prepare for because there’s a lot between the two programs,” Nixon said.
Utah Valley (1-0) defeated Westminster last Tuesday, 96-71 in its season-opener. BYU (0-1) defeated Westminster in an exhibition game on Nov. 1, 72-43.
The Cougars are trying to bounce back from a season-opening 86-70 loss at No. 7 Nevada last Tuesday. BYU made just 6 of 31 3-pointers in Reno.
Nixon expects a much better shooting performance Friday.
“I think the shots will fall," he said, "especially coming back here to the Marriott Center."