Men’s hoops takes second at Chicago Invitational Tournament

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The BYU men’s basketball team returns home from its Thanksgiving break with a second-place finish in the Chicago Invitational Tournament, after defeating the Nevada Wolf Pack in the semifinals and losing to the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers in the championship game.

The Cougars kept the championship game against Wisconsin close through the first half, but sputtered in the second half as Wisconsin’s preseason All-American guard Jordan Taylor scored 18 and backup shooting guard Ben Brust hit seven 3-pointers. After being down only two at halftime, the Cougars fell 73-56.

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Wisconsin's Ben Brust left, defends as BYU's Damarcus Harrison (24) drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011, in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
“There were critical times where we needed to score and we didn’t,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We needed to get a stop and we didn’t and it turned into the game what it was. We need to be a lot more consistent with our play through the game to beat a team like that.”

In the championship game, senior forward Noah Hartsock led BYU with 18 points.

In the semifinal game versus Nevada, it was BYU who pulled away with a second half run.

Up by only five early in the second half, BYU used sharp shooting from Hartsock and fellow senior Charles Abouo to pull away to a 76-55 win. Neither Hartsock nor Abouo missed a field goal in the second half. Abouo ended the night with 22 points and Hartsock tied a career-high with 21.

For their efforts in the tournament, both Hartsock and Abouo were selected to the All-Tournament team. During the four game stretch, Hartsock averaged 17.3 points and five rebounds, while Abouo averaged 15 points and 8.8 boards.

Even with the championship game loss to Wisconsin, Rose feels his team is coming together as they enter a tougher stretch of the season. A big part of the team’s improvement is the its senior leadership.

“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 hit the road this week as they head to Prescott Valley, Ariz., to take on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. The game will take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and will be televised on BYUtv.

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