Provo, UT — BYU was able to overcome sluggish play to wrap up their exhibition season with a 77-64 win over the University of Alaska.
The Cougars went down 5-0 early, but were able to score on three straight possessions to go up 8-5 and didn’t give up the lead for the rest of the game despite shooting only 38.1% (24-63) from the field and 32.3% (10/31) from beyond the arc. These struggles made it tough for the Cougars to put the Nanooks away for good.
“I’m obviously pleased that we were able to win the game but there are a lot of things in this game that really concern us.” Said BYU Head Coach Dave Rose, “We never really got into a flow. Hopefully we can take from what we have in practice and bring it to a game when the big lights are on. Hopefully next week we can correct a lot of the mistakes we made and get ready for the home opener. There were some good independent performances but as a team we didn’t play very well together as a group and hopefully we can fix that.”
One player that had an impressive performance was Freshman F Braiden Shaw who finished the game with 9 points on 4/4 shooting and had 7 rebounds, 5 of which were on the offensive glass which helped keep possessions alive for the Cougars.
Shaw stepped up in the absence of several players, especially in the post where BYU was thin tonight. The Cougars were without C Corbin Kaufusi, F Jamal Aytes, F Kyle Davis, and G Jordan Chatman.
“My role is to be a guy that gives 100%. I have to show up to practice and give 100% and it will show up during the games.” Shaw said after the game.
While BYU was missing several notable players, the game marked the season debut of Kyle Collinsworth who was previously sidelined with tendonitis in the knee. Collinsworth filled up his stat sheet with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Nate Austin said that having Collinsworth back on the court had a big impact on the team, “Kyle Collinsworth makes everybody’s job easier. He rebounds hard and sees the ball so well and he pushes it well in transition. He makes everyone’s job real easy and it’s great having him back. I think the team has a lot more confidence when Kyle is on the floor.”
BYU also saw the return of Senior G Chase Fischer to the court who was injured in the Cougar Tip Off with a thigh contusion. He led the team in scoring with 18 points on the night.
Rose was happy to have his two leaders back but expects more out of the team going forward, “Chase and Kyle have been so good with this group as far as their energy level and their urgency and there wasn’t a lot of that tonight. I felt that tonight it was more about other things and hopefully we can get this thing back on the right track. The reason that we missed a lot of shots was because of the way that we were playing. We weren’t on attack, we were in a jog instead of more of a sprint.”
The Cougars will return to practice this week before facing Utah Valley University in Provo for the season opener. This will be the second match up between the two programs despite the campuses being only 5 miles apart. It will also mark the coaching debut of former BYU assistant Mark Pope as he took the reigns of the UVU program this offseason.