The BYU men’s basketball team (11-5, 2-1 WCC) crushed Santa Clara (5-12, 1-4 WCC) 97-61 behind the play of senior guard Kyle Collinsworth and freshman guard Nick Emery in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
Collinworth recorded his ninth triple-double, with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He said his triple-double success is “hard to soak in.”
“From a team perspective, when I do get triple-doubles, it means we’re rebounding well and we’re getting assists well,” Collinsworth said.
BYU head coach Dave Rose said Collinsworth’s play was a good combination of engagement and aggression.
Emery came out of a slump with a breakout game of 23 points, on nine of 12 shooting.
“I have all the confidence in the world that that’s my play and I just need to make it,” Emery said.
An enthusiastic ROC (Roar of Cougars) student section came dressed in various helmets, safety googles and other protective gear in response to the University of Utah’s recent decision to cancel next season’s basketball game with the Cougars for safety reasons. Students were fired up as the song “Safety Dance” played over the PA system during the first timeout and the electric atmosphere only grew as the game went on. The team fed off the crowd’s energy, shooting 47 percent from the field. Senior guard Chase Fischer and freshman guard Zac Seljaas contributed 13 and 14 points, respectively.
“I felt like our guys could feel the energy, we got off to a good start and kind of got better as the game went on,” Rose said.
The Broncos cut the lead down to eights points with about seven minutes left in the first half but never fully recovered. Emery nailed a short jumper at the buzzer of the first half to put BYU up 48-39 going into halftime.
BYU increased its lead to as many as 39 points in the second half and finished it off with a solid performance and a 97-61 win. The Cougars turned the ball over just six times – a significant improvement from previous games of 20-plus turnovers. They also out-rebounded Santa Clara 52-33, including 37 defensive rebounds and 15 offensive rebounds.
“For the most part, we protected the rim pretty well and challenged shots, out-rebounded them and didn’t turn it over,” Rose said. “You take that combination and usually you’re going to have a pretty good night. And we did.”
Santa Clara’s leading scorer Jared Brownridge was held to just 16 points as the Cougar defense put up a strong fight. Collinsworth guarded Brownridge most of the game and said he tried to always know where Brownridge was.
“He’s a great a player, he’s going to hit tough shots right in your face,” Collinsworth said
BYU hosts San Francisco on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. (MST) before heading on a four-game road trip. The game will be broadcast on BYUtv, the Cougar IMG Sports Network, KSL 1160 AM / 102.7 FM and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.