The BYU-Utah rivalry flared Wednesday night in Salt Lake City as the Cougars fell 83-75 to the Utes.
The rivalry flared up in the final minutes of the men’s basketball game when freshman guard Nick Emery got a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected from the game. The Utes crowd simultaneously got a technical for throwing trash on the court. The replay showed Utah’s Brandon Taylor pushing Emery who retaliated by punching Taylor.
“I didn’t actually see the full play until after I addressed the team,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “It looks like when this is sent to the conference office there will be more (discipline) than what happened here tonight.”
BYU had a pretty rough night even before losing one of their leading scorers. The rhythm the Cougars found last week against Belmont at home disintegrated in Salt Lake City.
The Cougars started out by trying to find a rhythm on offense. They couldn’t get anything to go in down low and couldn’t get a call from the referees either. The BYU coaching staff was visibly frustrated with the referees after several questionable calls. The Cougars scored just 10 points in the first eight minutes.
“They flat out out-played us in the first half,” senior guard Kyle Collinsworth said. “We were too far down and couldn’t come back from it.”
University of Utah’s Jakob Poeltl was a huge presence down low and gave BYU a lot of trouble on offense and defense in the paint. The 7-foot-tall power forward has been a key player for the Utes all season and finished the game with 26 points and 13 rebounds. BYU’s depth was a huge help this year giving them options when the big men got into foul trouble in the second half.
The Cougars gave up several easy 3-pointers in the first half because they got tangled down low and no one could get outside to contest the shots.
BYU came out strong in the second half with a 15-2 run against the Utes. The Utes committed five team fouls in the first four minutes and the Cougars were in bonus less than seven minutes into the second half. The Cougars’ defense kept the Utes to 10 points 10 minutes of the second half.
Senior guard Chase Fischer made some huge adjustments at the half. Fischer was scoreless in the first half and exploded for 26 points in the second.
“They did a good job in the first half chasing me everywhere,” Fischer said. “We ran a couple sets that were good for me and I just got into a good rhythm.”
The Cougars looked like a completely different team in the second half but despite their efforts they never recovered from the 23-point first-half deficit. BYU managed to get within six points and ended the game 83-75.