The Cougars found their teeth again, bouncing back from the Gonzaga loss with an impressive win over the Loyola Marymount University Lions. BYU won the hard-fought home game 67-49.
One of the game’s most vivid moments saw Nick Emery turn a stolen ball into two points for the Cougars in the second half. Turning to the ROC student section, he held his arms wide open and walked dramatically toward them with his tongue stuck out while the student section roared.
The victory was much needed after the devastating loss the Cougars experienced at the hands of Gonzaga just days earlier. Despite a trying first half in which BYU trailed 26-23, the Cougars fought hard in the second half to secure the victory.
Two BYU players stood out as crowd favorites. One was freshman Gavin Baxter, who put 25 of the Cougars’ 67 points on the scoreboard in his first career outing as a starter. Baxter went 10-for-14 from the field, much to the bewilderment of the LMU defense, and added ten rebounds for his first double-double as a Cougar. Baxter was critical in helping his team start the second half on track, scoring the first two baskets of the half.
Senior McKay Cannon had nothing but praise for his younger teammate.
“He played great,” Cannon said. “He got the opportunity (to start) and he made the most of out it. I’m very happy for him. It was fun to see him be successful because you want that for everyone.”
Cannon’s support of his teammates was evident in his game stats. He had seven assists — the most of any player in the game.
Baxter shared Cannon’s feelings on his starter debut, saying his first career start couldn’t have gone any better.
“It’s just a lot of hard work paying off,” Baxter said.
The second BYU standout player was junior Nick Emery. Just like the rest of his team, Emery had a difficult first half, committing two fouls within 30 seconds of each other.
Emery honed his edge in the second half and his defensive hustle began to pay off. Emery finished the game with four steals and 17 points. Emery made all five of his attempted 3-point shots.
Head coach Dave Rose said he was pleased with his team’s efforts, praising their ability to adapt to the initial difficulties LMU posed with the away team’s stellar defense.
“We found a way to get the game the way we needed it to,” Rose said. “The first half was really tough for us just because they were switching it up a lot.”
Rose attributed the success to the momentum the Cougars built early in the second half.
“Once we got a little momentum, it didn’t matter whether they were zone or man, our guys were just really dialed in on sharing (the ball) and just getting the best should we could,” he said.