Cougar Sports With Ben Criddle

Red Hot Offense Advances BYU Past UAB in NIT Tournament

BYU pulled out a 97-79 victory over UAB in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.

Provo, UT – When BYU’s offense is on a role, they’re pretty dang tough to stop, UAB learned that first hand after giving up 97 points to the Cougars in the opening round of the NIT.

The Cougar Cagers were near unstoppable on the offense as they led the game wire-to-wire. N0. 2-seed BYU never looked back as they emerged with a 97-79 win over No. 7-seed UAB.

“UAB had a terrific season, my goodness. 26 wins and they won 14 or 15 games in a row down the stretch,” said Coach Rose. “You could really see that when this team plays that they expect to win.”

BYU was led in the victory by seniors Chase Fischer and Kyle Collinsworth, Fischer scored 27 points on 7-0f-16 shooting from 3-point range while Collinsworth extended his NCAA triple-double record to 12 with 19 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. Nick Emery also added 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 beyond the arc.

Nick Emery took charge of BYU’s offense in the first half as he led the Cougars to a 21-point first half lead as BYU led 51-30 behind 17-points from Emery. BYU pulled away late in the half as they closed on a 16-4 run, including the final 5 points of the half from Emery.

UAB went into the locker room down but certainly not out as they answered back cutting BYU’s lead from 21 to just 8 with 15:16 remaining in the game after utilizing a 7-20 run. The Blazers comeback was thanks in part to Robert Brown who had 27 second half points after only 2 in the first half.

“They put together a heck of a run against us in the second half,” said Coach Rose. “We had a hard time stopping Brown and I think we held him to 27 in the second half.”

The Blazers were able to pull it in within as close as 4 bringing the score to 65-61 with 11:56 remaining. Feeling the pressure, BYU began to pull away but UAB kept on their heels and brought it back to 4 with 10:32 remaining but that was as close as they got as BYU pulled away.

The Cougars found their stride on offense once again and were able to build the lead back up to 20 with just over five minutes remaining.

“We were up 20 at half time, then all of a sudden it’s a six point game, then we’re back up 20,” said Collinsworth. “It showed us a lot tonight, that we were able to weather the storm. We’ve had games where teams have made runs and we’ve lost them. It was nice to weather the storm and get the score back up to 20 where it was.”

BYU pulled away as they outscored UAB 27-13 down the stretch behind Fischer who scored 14 of his 27 points in the final 8:11 of the game.

“I just kept shooting,” said Fischer. “You just have to keep shooting cause if you don’t, then the ball isn’t going to go in. I was able to get some space and I was exhausted in the second half because of the pace of the game, I had to focus on setting my feet on shots.”

With the win, BYU will advance to the second round of the NIT and will face No. 3-seed Virginia Tech on Friday at the Marriott Center at 7:30 pm.

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