By Skyler Bell
By SKYLER BELL
The BYU men”s basketball team beat Utah 72-60 on Saturday before the smallest rivalry-game crowd in Marriott Center history.
The win, the first over Utah in nearly two years, put BYU at 9-4, while the Utes fell to 8-5. Both teams are 1-1 in conference play.
Top ranked Air Force embarrassed the Cougars in BYU”s first conference game on Thursday, but BYU bounced back just as it”s done all season and held home court against their rival. BYU hasn”t lost two in a row under new head coach Dave Rose, who is now 1-0 in the rivalry.
“The personality of this team is that they respond well after a loss,” Rose said.
Rashaun Broadus and Trent Plaisted led the Cougars. Broadus had 17 points, including 10 in the first nine minutes, and Plaisted finished with 12 points and seven rebounds after sitting out much of the first half with two fouls.
“We didn”t have that three- or four-day festering period where he could really get into us,” Plaisted said, “and we were able to kind of redeem ourselves right away.”
The Cougars led by four at halftime and never trailed in the second half, despite a late Ute run to bring the game within five in the closing minutes. Momentum swung toward Utah until the 1:20 mark when Broadus splashed a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock, crushing all hopes of a Ute comeback.
“It felt real good. I was jumping up and down when it went in,” Broadus said. “It was a big-time shot.”
Johnnie Bryant and backup center Luke Nevill led the Utes, but were unable to pick up the slack of Utah scoring leader Bryant Markson?s off night. The Cougars held Markson to a mere four points after his 24-point night against New Mexico on Wednesday.
“I think the main thing with him was just not to give him any easy baskets,” BYU”s Brock Reichner said. “He”s a scorer, but you have to make him work for it.”
BYU focused on defense ball protection throughout the game. The Cougars caused 13 turnovers, while only committing seven. They also nearly tripled Utah in second chance points, racking up 14 to Utah”s five.
The Cougars had trouble getting into a rhythm early, but Broadus took control with his jump shot, personally outscoring the Utes over the first five minutes of play. Field goals by Fernando Malaman and Jimmy Balderson helped to settle the Cougars down and a late first half run put some breathing room between the teams at halftime.
“Rashaun [Broadus] was really big today,” Rose said. “He got off to a great start and gave us some energy. He”s a good competitor and he showed it today.
“We played consistently, but not the best. We had some good looks in the first half, but seemed a little excited. But we were able to settle down and play well in the second.”
The second half included a strong bench performance from sharpshooter Mike Rose, who hit his first two 3-pointers in the game to give the Cougars leads of 10 and nine, respectively.
BYU maintained its lead by shooting 13-for-15 from the line, including 6-of-7 in the second half.
The Cougars face UNLV in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.