BYU came away on top in an up-and-down 97-79 win over the University of Alabama at Birmingham Wednesday night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Kyle Collinsworth described the game as a roller coaster ride, as the Cougars were up by 20 points, then four and eventually by 20 points again.
“It was good to see that we could weather the storm and actually build back the lead up to 20 (points), where it was,” Collinsworth said.
The senior guard recorded his 12th career triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Collinsworth also dazzled fans with a pair of dunks in the first half.
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Fellow senior guard Chase Fischer led the Cougars with 27 points and made seven 3-pointers. Fischer scored his 105th shot from beyond the arc this season for a total of 208 3-pointers in his two years at BYU.
“I just kept shooting,” Fischer said. “If I don’t shoot them, it’s obviously not going to go in.”
Fischer said he was exhausted in the second half from the game’s tempo but that didn’t stop the West Virginia native.
BYU played its style of play and controlled the pace in the first half en route to a 51-30 lead at halftime. Three-point baskets and dunks got the crowd loud and proud and the team fed off the energy.
The Cougars blew a 21-point halftime lead as the Blazers rallied back within four points. UAB’s lone senior, Robert Brown, scored 25 of his 29 points in the Blazers’ second-half comeback, but it wasn’t enough for the win.
Collinsworth said the Cougars used a timeout to remind themselves that the Blazers were more tired than they were. BYU fought back for another 20-point lead and got stops in the final eight or nine minutes to come away with the 97-79 victory.
BYU head coach Dave Rose credited UAB for putting a “heck of a run on us in the second half,” but was happy for his team.
“We competed well, we played together, shared the ball,” Rose said.
BYU had 26 assists on 38 baskets while shooting 53.5 percent on the night and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Emery scored in double figures for the 29th time this season, tying former Cougar Danny Ainge for most double-figure games for a freshman. He scored 22 points in the win.
Davis scored 11 points while freshman guard Zac Seljaas and sophomore center Corbin Kaufusi added six and eight points, respectively.
Rose said he was impressed with how loud the Marriott Center fans were and the atmosphere they created. He expressed appreciation to those who came to support on short notice after the game was announced Sunday night.
The Cougars will play No. 3 Virginia Tech in the second round of the NIT Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Center.