Mika leads BYU basketball to win in season opener

Ari Davis
Eric Mika grabs a board against Princeton. Mika had a double-double in the victory. (Ari Davis)

Sophomore center Eric Mika led the BYU basketball team to an 82-73 victory against an experienced Princeton team on Monday night in the Marriott Center as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.

Mika finished the game with a double-double, scoring 26 points and picking up 18 rebounds.

BYU head coach Dave Rose was impressed by Mika’s physicality.

“It was pretty physical down there in the high post,” Rose said. “You can throw him the ball and you’re going to get something good most of the time.”

Getting the ball inside was crucial to the Cougars’ success. BYU’s offense was able to work through Mika and the post, playing inside out. BYU’s high paced offense was able to score 82 points against a more deliberate, slow-paced Princeton team.

The key matchup heading into the game was talent versus experience. Princeton’s starting five were all upperclassmen, four seniors and a junior. BYU started three underclassmen, including true freshman TJ Haws.

“Princeton was a really good team. I think that’s one of the best teams I’ve seen come through the Marriott center,” Sophomore guard Nick Emery said. “They’re tough, they’re resilient, they don’t ever give up and they play really good basketball.”

Princeton got into foul trouble in the first half, which allowed BYU to play more aggressive.

Ari Davis
Cosmo joins with students as the ROC gets ready for the game against Princeton. (Ari Davis)

“They were in foul trouble pretty quick and It’s definitely helpful for us because then we get that momentum going and we have that mentality to keep attacking,” Mika said.  

With the Tigers in foul trouble, the cougars were able to go into halftime with a comfortable nine-point lead.

Princeton eviscerated BYU’s lead early in the second half down to three. This seemed to be the pattern for rest of the game. BYU was able to score in spurts, only to have Princeton inch back every time. Princeton was able to cut the lead down to one in the middle of the second half. The Cougars quickly rebounded and maintained a healthy lead the rest of the game.

BYU was able to win shooting 40 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc.

The BYU men’s basketball team will play two more home games this week. The Cougars will take on Coppin State on Thursday, then play Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

Mika was optimistic about playing three games in one week.

“Practice is fun, but games are more fun,” Mika said.

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