Men’s basketball advances to Tournament Championship

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BYU men’s basketball defeated the Nevada Wolfpack, 76-55, Friday night in the semifinal game of the Chicago Invitational Tournament and will advance to the championship game.

The win was the first for the Cougars this season in a game away from Provo.

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BYU's Brandon Davies drives to the basket as Nevada's Dario Hunt defends during the second half of a game in in the Chicago Invitational Tournament on Friday. BYU defeated Nevada 76-55.
“That was a good win,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “Trying to get your first win outside of your building is a real challenge, so I’m real proud of our guys.”

The game started with BYU controlling the turnover battle with Nevada. In the first 10 minutes of play, the Cougars forced 10 turnovers by the Wolfpack. BYU took advantage of Nevada’s sloppy play and took a 24-6 lead with 11:42 remaining in the first half.

With BYU scoring well, Nevada switched from a man-to-man defense to zone, and began to full-court press. On offense, Nevada began to give the ball to Duke transfer Olek Czyz and All-WAC preseason selection Deonte Burton. Czyz and Burton scored nine and seven respectively in the first half, including a Burton 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the half. The Cougars struggled against the Wolfpack zone defense, and the first half ended with Nevada down by just seven, 31-24.

In the second half, BYU pulled away behind the scoring of senior captains Charles Abouo and Noah Hartsock. Nevada kept the game within 10 until Abouo scored eight straight points for the Cougars. Abouo didn’t miss a shot in the second half and ended the night with a season-high 22 points, along with eight rebounds. Hartsock tied a career-high with 21 points and also added six rebounds.

Rose was very pleased with the leadership from the team captains and liked how it translated to the play from the rest of the team.

“For Charles to play within himself … and Noah to call for the ball like he was … it gives everyone else a lot of confidence,” Rose said. “I’m really proud of our guys and I like how we’ve played the last two weeks. We’re coming together a little bit.”

The Cougars take on the winner of the second semifinal game between Bradley and Wisconsin, Saturday at 6 p.m. MST, in the Chicago Invitational Tournament Championship game.

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