Provo, UT – In his first game in the starting line up for the Cougars, Nick Emery was asked to provide an offensive spark for the Cougars who have struggled to find consistent play early on in games.
Emery was able to do just that, putting up 8 points early on as the Cougars jumped out to a 22-5 lead early on against the visiting Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils. Emery led the team in scoring for the second straight game, finishing with 18 points and 7 rebounds.
Despite Emery’s performance, the visitors were able to bounce back from the early deficit and provide a scare for the Cougars as they eked out a 75-68 victory.
“We came out playing BYU basketball, that’s how we play and it’s how we play in practice everyday,” said Emery, “They hit a couple shots and got their momentum going. We’ll learn from this and keep going forward.”
The Delta Devils were able to claw their way back in when BYU rotated in their second unit and put together a 14-5 run late in the first half.
“An error in judgement on my part was bringing in a whole different group and losing momentum. We were able to bring the first group back in and finish the half pretty good,” Coach Rose added.
The Cougars responded by bringing their starters back in who were able to together a 9 point run before MVSU picked up some momentum from a Damion Young 3 with :04 left in the half.
The Cougars struggled to find an answer for Young who led all scorers on the night who went off for 21 points on a red-hot 5/7 shooting from 3-point range and 8/11 from the field.
Young carried his hot hand into the 2nd half by hitting his first 3 shots from beyond the arc to bring MVSU within 5 as they trailed 41-46 early on.
“We’ve done a good job in our other games limiting our opponents best player. Tonight was exactly the opposite,” Coach Rose said, “He came in averaging 10 points a game and scored 22 or 24 points tonight which was discouraging to our team.”
BYU and MVSU matched each other score-for-score down the stretch as the Cougars were unable to pull away with their biggest lead coming to 11 points after an Emery jumper with 8:10 remaining in the contest.
After that, BYU hit a rut on offense and despite never losing the lead, didn’t score a field goal for 7:30 ending the drought on a breakaway dunk from Kyle Davis with :40 seconds left in the game.
“We need to find an identity to this team right now,” said Coach Rose, “But we need to start to rely on our system and each other, and play with some urgency and confidence.”
BYU struggled competing for loose balls and securing rebounds on both ends of the court, this extinguished several second chances for BYU and allowed MVSU to stay competitive in the game.
“We didn’t have the real urgent mindset tonight. We started out with a good feel and then that changed, and we couldn’t get it back,” said Coach Rose. “A sign of an inexperienced team is letting something get away from you and have it affect you for the rest of the game instead of getting on to the next play.”
Emery was joined in double digit scoring by Kyle Davis, Corbin Kaufusi, and Kyle Collinsworth who had 13, 12, and 11 points respectively.
BYU will look to improve their offensive performance on Saturday as they face Belmont at 7:00 pm at the Marriott Center.