The BYU basketball team struggled for much of the game, but when it mattered most they made plays and beat the University of Utah 61-58 Saturday at the Marriott Center.
BYU guard Matt Carlino provided some much-needed offense against a Ute team who is much improved than in the previous few years.
“That is a really good win for our team,” BYU Coach Dave Rose said after the game. “Every win is a good win, but some are more special than others.”
It was not an easy win. Coach Rose called it a slugfest and guard Tyler Haws had similar thoughts.
“It was a war out there, a battle right to the very end,” Haws said. “We knew it was going to be a battle, it always is.”
The Utes defense was focused on stopping Haws. They incorporated a box-and-one formation on Haws which limited Haws to just one field goal in the first half and 14 points overall.
“We hadn’t seen that this year and they kind of caught us off-guard,” Haws said about the Utes defense. “But eventually we figured it out and guys stepped up and hit shots.”
One of those guys who stepped up was Matt Carlino. Carlino has struggled this season finding his shot. Going into the Utah game, Carlino was just 3-22 from behind the three-point line. He finished the game shooting 5-10 from the three-point line and had a season-high 19 points.
Not only did Carlino score some major points for the Cougars, but they came at crucial times.
With about five mintutes to go, Carlino hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game at 52. The last time the Cougars were tied was with 13 minutes to go in the first half.
“They were glued to Ty (Haws) so someone had to step up and make shots,” Carlino said.
Utah had a chance to tie the game with four seconds remaining and the ball at mid-court, but Justin Seymour’s three-pointer bounced of the rim.
Coach Rose talked about his strategy during that time and the decision not to foul intentionally.
“We talked about it during two different timeouts,” Rose said. “We wanted to see if we could put enough pressure on them and not worry about fouling them intentionally. We forced them into a pretty difficult shot. But you look at the replay and it could have gone in.”
The Cougars defense was much improved in the second half as they switched into a zone defense. Utah missed its last eight shots and had no field goals in the final seven minutes.
The Utes were led by Jordan Loveridge. Loveridge scored 14 points in 36 minutes of play.
BYU has won 11 of the last 12 against Utah, including the last seven in a row.
Up next for the Cougars will be Weber State in Ogden on Saturday, December 15 at 7 p.m.