BYU men’s basketball rebounds with win over Pepperdine

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Ari Davis
Sophomore Eric Mika shoots past the defenders. Mika scored 22 points against Pepperdine on Thursday night. (Ari Davis)

The BYU men’s basketball team rebounded from a tough road loss last week with a 99-70 rout of Pepperdine at the Marriott Center on Thursday night.

Eric Mika led the offense with 22 points and 10 rebounds, his sixth-straight double-double and 12th on the season. Elijah Bryant had 15 points, while Nick Emery and L.J. Rose each contributed 10 points.

“We definitely do a good job of sticking together as a team, both coaches and players,” Mika said. He attributed the Cougar victory to the team’s trust in their ability to bounce back, play better, and learn from mistakes made.

Over the final 9:57 of the first half, the Cougars went 15-for-18 from the field, including 12-straight made field goals, which was key to the victory. During that time, BYU outscored Pepperdine 35 to 20.

“We had a lot of good action at our practices this week,” Mika said. “We were going hard like we’ve been used to, racing the ball down the floor, running the floor as bigs, getting that spacing. When we can do that, we can give ourselves a lot of confidence, because that’s how we know to play.”

A 12-2 run early in the second half increased BYU’s lead to 31. From there, the bench took over for the Cougars, with Colby Leifson, Payton Dastrup, and Steven Beo all getting the on the score sheet.

“We made more aggressive attacking plays,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “We did a better job of attacking them and getting to the rim and taking a higher percentage shot.”

On the night, BYU shot 52% from the floor and 42% from 3-point distance while holding Pepperdine to 41% from the floor and just 18% from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Cougars also out-rebounded Pepperdine 55 to 32, including a 17 to 9 advantage in offensive rebounds.

Emery sets school record for consecutive games with a made 3-pointer

Nick Emery’s first bucket of the night was a 3-pointer, his 29th-straight game with a made 3-pointer. This broke Jimmer Fredette’s BYU record of 28-straight games.

“If you can break any of Jimmer’s records, you’re probably doing something good,” Coach Rose said.

Home sweet home

Tonight wasn’t the first time BYU returned home to the Marriott Center after a conference loss and won by 29 points. Following their loss to St. Mary’s on Jan. 5, the Cougars beat Pacific 91-62 at the Marriott Center.

Bryant attributed tonight’s victory to the home court advantage.

“The crowd definitely helps,” Bryant said. “On the road we’re such a young team, so when we get punched in the face it’s a different mentality when we fight back. It’s easier with the crowd.”

Six of BYU’s final 11 games are on the road, including a daunting trip to Gonzaga on the final night of the regular season.

“If we can just stick together, and stick to our principles like we do at home, then we can through [playing on the road],” Mika said.

“We have not had the same feel to us, to our team, on the road as we have at home,” Rose said. “Hopefully we can find that ability to get teams on their heels in their own gym.”

The Cougars improved to 14-6 overall, 5-2 in conference with the win and travel to Pacific for their next game on Saturday. Tip off is set for 4pm MST. The women’s basketball team also defeated Pepperdine on Thursday night, beating the Waves 73-47.

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