Jake Toolson and Dalton Nixon led BYU basketball to a 68-63 victory over Southern Utah University on Wednesday, Nov. 13 in the Marriott Center.
With a previous record of 11-0 against SUU, BYU clung to their undefeated title and brought in another win versus the Cedar City, Utah, team.
Toolson shattered his BYU career-high and stole the show with 22 points, two rebounds and three assists, and Nixon contributed 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. TJ Haws, who celebrated his 104th consecutive career start at BYU, aided the team with 10 points, although deterred by four personal fouls.
Through the first half, BYU easily maintained the lead for 18 of the 20 minutes, even leading by double-digits with six minutes remaining. Their advantage was soon dissipated as SUU fought back with a six-point run over a two-minute span.
The closing minutes of the half consisted of three back-to-back baskets by Toolson and a three-pointer by Haws. There was an uproar from the crowd as Haws shot three buckets behind the line but only one counted because of a dead shot clock call and an error in the shot clock starting late.
BYU led SUU 36-31 at the half.
The Cougars demonstrated their strength at the arc during the first half, shooting 63% on five of the eight shots from deep — an accuracy that decreased to 44% inside the paint on 14 of 32 attempted shots made.
The Thunderbirds gained momentum in the second half and obtained the lead, halting the Cougars in their tracks for five minutes. Alex Barcello’s basket at the 7:30 mark was enough for BYU to regain the lead at 55-54.
For the remainder of the game, BYU and SUU were neck-and-neck as BYU made only three of 14 3-point attempts.
With Haws on the bench, Evan Troy received nine minutes of playing time, acting as a huge defensive help to the Cougars with a critical defensive rebound. Although Troy has little playing time on the court with the Cougars, head coach Mark Pope said he was proud of what Troy accomplished.
“We’re running on fumes a little bit. It seems like our roster gets shorter by the day,” Pope said. “You get to reach down the bench and grab a guy like Evan Troy who when you look at him, you would not assume he’s going to be the defensive stopper but he was fantastic tonight.”
Toolson made the dagger at a critical moment late in the game, surging the Cougars forward to a four-point lead.
As time was running low in the tight matchup, Toolson said he stepped up and got a good look at the basket, which enabled him to make the three-point jumper. By the end of the game, Toolson had scored eight of BYU’s final ten points.
BYU basketball’s next game will be against Houston on Friday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. in Houston, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, BYU Radio and KSL 102.7.