The BYU men’s basketball team defeated the University of Alaska 77-64 in Provo on Saturday night.
It was the Cougars’ second and final exhibition contest before they begin their regular season.
The Cougars were not at full strength for the game. Jordan Chatman, Corbin Kaufusi, Kyle Davis and Jamal Aytes sat out of the game due to nagging injuries.
Head coach Dave Rose said that injuries were no excuse for his team’s performance.
“To me, who you play is based on who you have, and how you play is based on how you practice,” Rose said. “I think this team practices well, so it should play better.”
Senior captains Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer returned to action after missing the game against Arizona Christian University.
Collinsworth and Fischer had 18 points combined in the first half and led the Cougars to a 39-25 halftime lead.
Senior forward Nate Austin said that having Collinsworth back was a huge boost to the team.
“Kyle Collinsworth makes everyone’s job easier,” Austin said. “He rebounds hard, he sees the floor so well. It’s great having him back. I think our team gains a lot of confidence when Kyle is on the floor.”
Alaska opened the second half with a 17-10 run and cut the BYU lead down to seven points.
But that was the closest Alaska came to tying the game. The Cougars trailed for just over three minutes of game time.
BYU wasn’t without struggles on the night. The Cougars shot 38 percent from the field.
Senior forward Nate Austin said that the team lacked energy when they came out.
“I think we came out a little sluggish,” Austin said after the game. “It took us a little while to get into the rhythm of the game. Things felt sluggish out there. We never really had the energy that our team needs.”
Fischer finished the night with 18 points. Nick Emery was the team’s second-leading scorer with 11. Collinsworth finished the night with 10. The three combined to shoot 11 for 34 from the field. Rose said the Cougars’ shot selection was poor.
“We’re an extra pass kind of team,” Rose said. “We’re a team that shoots quick but, for the most part, we take good shots. Tonight, I thought we were taking hurried shots, taking rushed shots. It affects everybody when we’re not playing together.”
True freshman Braiden Shaw was one of the bright spots for BYU. He scored nine points with 100 percent shooting and grabbed seven rebounds with five of those on offense.
“You just give 100 percent,” Shaw said. “That’s all you can really do. You got to show up at practice every day, give 100 percent there and let that translate over to the game. All you can do is give everything you have.”
Alaska Fairbanks is a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Nanooks went 7-19 last season. Ashton Edwards, Almir Hadzisehovic and Joe Slocum were preseason all-GNAC selections. The three combined for 15 points on 22 attempted shots.
The Cougars open their regular season Friday, Nov. 13, in the Marriott Center against Utah Valley University. Austin said the team will be ready.
“We’re sick of these games not counting,” Austin said. “We want these games to count.”