PROVO — BYU’s players are loving the schedule this week — three games in five days.
The Cougars have already beaten Northwestern State Tuesday and Oral Roberts Thursday. They host Alabama A&M Saturday (4 p.m., MST, BYUtv) at the Marriott Center.
“There’s nothing better as a player. It feels like you wake up and you have another game,” said forward Yoeli Childs, who scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Oral Roberts. “It’s so much fun. I wish we could do it like this every week.”
Saturday, BYU faces a winless Alabama A&M (0-3). The Bulldogs have lost at South Florida (80-63), at Houston (101-54) and at Rice (73-59).
There was plenty that coach Dave Rose liked about the Cougars’ 85-65 win over Oral Roberts. For starters, his team outrebounded the Golden Eagles, 52-37.
“It’s a team that rebounds really well. We did a good job of keeping them off the boards,” Rose said. “For us, it’s the way we’re going to have to play. That’s going to be really important for us because our guards are going to have to really help us and be good defensive rebounders.”
Rose was pleased with his team’s free throw shooting (21 of 26 from the line) and the 19 assists, led by TJ Haws’ six and Jahshire Hardnett’s four.
Hardnett scored 16 points on 6-of -11 shooting and had four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Cougars also received big contributions off the bench Thursday from freshmen Connor Harding (10 points, 7 rebounds) and Gavin Baxter (4 points, 3 rebounds) and sophomore Rylan Bergerson (7 points).
“Connor and Gavin are a step ahead of where we thought and they’re playing a lot of minutes,” Rose said. “One of the biggest keys to having a really good team with a deep bench is the guys who don’t get consistent minutes that when they’re called upon because of injury or illness or foul trouble that you can put them in and they’re ready to help the team. Those are your really special teams.”
BYU outscored ORU in the paint, 40-24, and in second-chance points, 13-3, and fast-break points, 24-8.
Rose said his team’s defensive effort has been solid this season.
“We have a good purpose to us defensively. We’ve had a good plan and we’ve been working on some things to get better at them. Our guys have been dialed in. We haven’t had a lot of lapses defensively.”
However, BYU continued to struggle shooting 3-pointers. Against Oral Roberts, the Cougars hit just 6 of 24 from behind the arc. BYU has made only 25 of 99 from 3-point range this season.
“We’ve been making those shots consistently (in practice),” said Childs. “There’s not one player shooting a bad percentage from 3. It’s a thing where it’s a small sample size, four games in. As we continue to do our thing, it will go up because we have really good shooters.”2 comments on this story
Childs scored his 1,000th career point Thursday, becoming the 51st player in school history to reach that milestone. He has also scored a double-double in all four games this season.
“He means everything. He’s the focal point of all the (opposing) defenses,” Bergerson said of Childs. “He does a great job of facilitating when the double-team comes and finding the open guy and scoring when he needs to. He does a great job of playing through contact. It’s great to see him play through those and get buckets no matter what.”
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Cougars on the air: Alabama A&M (0-3) at BYU (3-1)
- Saturday, 4 p.m. MST
- Marriott Center
- TV: BYUtv
- Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM