Childs and Nixon lead BYU to blowout victory over UNLV

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BYU men’s basketball dominated the University of Northern Las Vegas 83-50 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 7, to bring their record for the season to 7-4.

BYU and UNLV hold an aggressive history with a 17-19 record in favor of UNLV in the past 38 years — the last game being a 92-90 loss for the Cougars. After a loss to Utah three days prior, the Cougars have amped up their competitive play.

The first frame began with a slow offensive start but was soon accelerated as Alex Barcello hit a 3-pointer to start the game. The Rebels followed closely behind with a 5-5 tie just over two minutes into the first half.

BYU gained momentum behind the 3-pointers of Barcello and Connor Harding. With the aid of Harding’s third basket behind the arc, the Cougars went on a 14-3 run, bringing the score to 19-8. 

The Cougars continue their consistency from three, making nine of their 13 deep shots for an impressive 69.2%. In contrast, the Rebels made only four of their 13 tries. 

“We all trust each other,” Nixon said. “We have 3-point shooters on the floor all the time.”

After a shot from deep by Zac Seljaas, BYU held a 20-point advantage over their opponents. 

While the 3-pointers were an exceptional and critical part of the game, head coach Mark Pope said he is also excited for the improvement his team has made on the defensive end. 

“Most important to us was the guys’ attention to the defensive end,” Pope said. “That was really crucial for us in terms of responding to the debacle we had a couple of days ago.”

BYU went into half-time with an advantage of 25-46 with 10 points, two assists and two rebounds from Barcello. Harding added 10 points to the first period, while Yoeli Childs added nine points, nine rebounds and two assists.

The second half began without a basket for a straight 2:12 minute span until Nixon and TJ Haws shot two consecutive threes, adding to the team’s success behind the paint. At this point in the game, seven of BYU’s players had made a shot from behind the arc. 

At 12 minutes into the period, the Cougars lead had extended to 30.

BYU maintained its strong lead for the remainder of the game, beating UNLV 83-50. Nixon led the team with a career-high of 17 points, while Barcello and Childs each added 13 apiece. Childs also had a total of 14 rebounds and two blocks.

The 6-foot-8 senior played his first game of the 2019-20 season on Dec. 4 against the University of Utah when both of his calves started to cramp up, causing him to miss the second half of the contest.

Today, Childs said he took precautionary measures to ensure he was ready for the heightened amount of physical activity including drinking pickle juice and using heating pads before play. 

“I felt good and I think that’s behind me,” Childs said.

The Cougars will play at home Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. against Nevada. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, BYU Radio, BYU Sports Network and KSL 102.7 FM. 

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